National node - Canada

(c) ottawagraphics / Pixabay

Introducing ECOP Canada

ECOP Canada is the Canada network for the Global ECOP Programme, endorsed by the UN Ocean Decade

ECOP Canada en français

ECOP Canada aims to achieve intergenerational equity by strengthening the diverse voices of early career ocean professionals. Through our network of ocean partners and ECOPs, we aim to address the following needs outlined in Canada’s Blue Economy Strategy:

  1. Adapt to generational values, innovation, and interests.
  2. [Re]build early career professionals connections to the ocean.
  3. Develop and communicate clear career pathways. 
  4. Support experiential learning opportunities. 
  5. Support and create sector strategies to introduce ECOPs to career opportunities. 
A crew of three people on the deck of a boat. Women with helmet on looking up and smiling
(c) Neha Acharya-Patel
Woman on a beach by buckets of water that contain various starfish
(c) Samantha McBeth

Who is an ECOP in Canada?

  • An early career ocean professional (ECOP) is anyone who makes their living from a healthy ocean.
  • An ECOP is a person that self-identifies as being early in their career (10 years or less of professional experience) within any occupation related to the ocean (not only employed/paid positions).
  • ECOPs will be the ones to inherit the decisions made about the ocean today as well as leadership roles in the blue economy.
Why empower ECOPs in Canada now?
  • We are at a pivotal time in which leadership, innovation, and emerging technologies could help us deal with and solve environmental challenges, while introducing new ocean sectors. 
  • Now is the time to take action by supporting the next generation of ocean leaders to meet the goals of the UN Ocean Decade and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Canada has the longest coastline in the world. ECOP Canada creates meaningful engagement and hope through community building from coast to coast to coast.
  • By supporting our network, ECOPs in Canada will help achieve international leadership and a Blue Economy that is environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, and economically viable.
Woman underwater, diving in a kelp forest with scuba gear on.
(c) Andrew McCurdy

Join the ECOP Canada Community on Slack

Are you an early career ocean professional in Canada? Fill out the form below and we’ll email you an invite to join our online community. Slack is the place where you can connect with fellow ECOPs and access meaningful opportunities like jobs, training, funding, events, collaborations, ocean leadership, and more! 

ECOP Canada Coordination Unit

ECOP Canada welcomes you to join the network and share your country’s activities and opportunities related to the UN Decade. 

For any questions or inquiries, please contact:

  • Ashley Bowes
  • Email:
Ashley Bowes is the National Coordinator for ECOP Canada. She is an ECOP that has over seven years of experience collaborating with leaders in sustainability and non-profit organizations. Ashley has taken her passion as a scuba/freediver and sa and communicator to the next level to support and amplify the stories and voices of ECOPs across Canada.
Ashley Bowes is the National Coordinator for ECOP Canada. She is an ECOP that has over seven years of experience collaborating with leaders in sustainability and non-profit organizations. Ashley has taken her passion as a scuba/freediver and sa and communicator to the next level to support and amplify the stories and voices of ECOPs across Canada.

ECOP Canada New Steering Committee (2023 to 2025)

Headshot of Francesca Marquez
Frankie Marquez is a storyteller, facilitator, and community organizer. Currently, she works as the Community and Volunteer Engagement Manager at Ocean Wise. In this role she supports Ocean Wise Youth programs by providing opportunities for over 900 Ocean Wise Youth Alumni to continue taking action for our ocean. Frankie applies an intersectional approach to her work and uses dialogue principles to bring together diverse groups and voices to protect and restore our oceans. She also manages the Ocean Action Grant program and distributes funding for Canadians ages 15-30 to deliver service projects that benefit the ocean in their local community. In her free time, you can find her crocheting, cooking or plunging into the cold ocean under the moonlight!
Headshot of Jovana Kornicer
Jovana Kornicer is a marine scientist who focuses on climate adaptation and mitigation strategies for communities and the ocean. She is also passionate about understanding how climate change is impacting marine species and their habitats. Jovana is currently working as the Regional Climate Leadership Coordinator at the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat. She works as a facilitator to increase First Nation community capacity in climate leadership and other related initiatives across Atlantic Canada. In her free time, she can be found on the beach or exploring nature.
Headshot of Laura Hernandez Merlano
Laura Hernandez Merlano has been an intersectional youth and environmental advocate for over a decade. As a political refugee from Medellin, Colombia, she is a compassionate leader who is passionate about mobilizing and spreading hope in her community. She always looks forward to bringing her insightful perspectives as a neurodivergent Latina woman. Laura studied Environmental Economics and Public Policy at the University of Ottawa and works as an International Policy and Research Analyst at Global Affairs Canada (GAC). Particularly at GAC, Laura advocates for One Health approaches and an Anti-Burnout-centered wellness culture. In her spare time, Laura enjoys cooking new plant-based recipes, staying active outdoors, and playing her ukulele, especially by a campfire.

ECOP Canada Co-Founders and Former Steering Committee (2021 to 2023)

Neha Acharya-Patel
Neha Acharya-Patel is an ECOP who has worked across industry, academia and science communication and outreach over the past five years. She is a passionate marine conservationist, early-career scientist and professional diver who spends all the time she can below the surface.
Samantha McBeth
Samantha McBeth is an interdisciplinary ECOP specialized in the polar regions, with a focus on the intersection of environmental research, policy making, and social factors. She’s also been a polar expedition guide and naturalist for the last 5 years, sharing her passion for the Arctic, the North Atlantic, and the Southern Ocean.
Ronnie Noonan-Birch Headshot
Ronnie Noonan-Birch is an ECOP who looks to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Blue Economy as a framework that will lead to meaningful solutions. She is pursuing her Master’s in Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University to find out how the Blue Economy can be better utilized in Canada.

The ECOP Programme’s participation at ICES/PICES launched the first of ECOP Canada’s interactive and networking workshops to engage early-career ocean professionals on their role in the UN Ocean Decade. We asked them: How do you view the 7 Ocean Decade Outcomes? What do you think needs to happen under each of the 7 outcomes to achieve the ocean we want this decade?

IMPAC5 graphic - How ECOPs View the 7 Decade Outcomes


Ocean Science Together Webinar

The UN Ocean Decade and Reconciliation: it is time to transform the way countries such as Canada approach our relationship with the Ocean, bringing together all perspectives, especially those of Indigenous Peoples who have drawn sustenance from the ocean for thousands of years without compromising the integrity of its ecosystem.

In July, ECOP Canada hosted an important conversation on Ocean Science Together with Alexandra Anaviapik to early career ocean professionals across Canada and the world.

Alexandra Anaviapik is a self-taught Inuk artist and Inuit Cultural educator from Pond Inlet, Nunavut, in Canada’s Arctic. She is an explorer and a powerful advocate for her community and beliefs. As a member of ECOP Canada’s Advisory Board, she has provided important guidance for the development of Canada’s regional node with respect to the meaningful integration of Indigenous perspectives.

However, we still have loads to learn! Alex has kindly offered to shared her insights and recommendations with the larger ECOP community regarding effective communication skills and making space for the purposeful inclusion of Indigenous people as we work together for the Ocean We Want.

How have ECOPs made an impact at IMPAC5?

In February, ECOP Canada and the Global ECOP Programme’s inspiring community of early career ocean professionals (ECOPs) and allies came together at the The 5th International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC5) in Vancouver, BC. As a UN Ocean Decade endorsed project, our goal is to ensure the diverse voices of ECOPs are included in high-level decisions made about the ocean’s future.Early Career Ocean Professionals who participated in IMPAC5 demonstrated to the global stage that ECOPs are already the ocean leaders we need to take action on transformative solutions to care for the ocean for every generation.

Many ECOPs and allies came out of their experiences at IMPAC5 feeling empowered to come together as a community to uplift each other’s work and collectively reach ambitious targets like 30×30 and solutions to meet the Ocean Decade Outcomes.

What were our highlights?

  • We supported the participation of 15 ECOP Canada members at IMPAC5 with stipends for registration and travel. Thank you to this incredible ECOP Canada cohort for rocking it! We aim to support more ECOPs in the future who are unable to attend conferences due to financial barriers.
  • Many thanks to the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition for supporting ECOP Canada members with funding to show up and make waves at IMPAC5. Your ongoing dedication to empower future and current ocean leaders with impactful opportunities in Canada’s ocean literacy space and blue economy is inspiring!
  • We engaged and collected perspectives from over 70 ECOPs at our Ocean Decade Workshop at the #NatureforAll Youth Archipelago. We will share and amplify these ECOP views beyond IMPAC5.
  • We engaged with a lot of folks nationally and internationally that had no information on the Ocean Decade and informed them opportunities to participate and strengthen their voice.
  • We teamed up with Sustainable Ocean Alliance, Parley Ocean Uprise, and Ocean Wise to host the first-ever, “Building Bridges” networking event at the Ocean Wise office in Vancouver, BC.
    This social event facilitated networking for 100+ young professionals and connected ocean leaders with each other to build community and capacity. High level decision-makers attended and met with the next bench of environmental leaders.
  • We engaged many ECOPs and collaborators who floated into #NatureforAll Youth Archipelago to learn our network and how to get involved.
  • We hosted a panel with SOA, Parley Ocean Uprise, UBC, First Nations Fisheries Council, and Ocean Wise Ocean Bridge on “The Voice of Young Professionals: Advancing 30×30 and Protecting Boundaries Beyond National Jurisdiction,” at the IUCN Pavilion. Speakers were talented young people and ECOPs who have contributed to movements and initiatives that advance 30×30 and deep-sea protection.
  • 7 ECOP delegates took over our Instagram Stories (@ecopcanada) throughout IMPAC5 to share their experiences and insights with our national audience of ECOPs and ocean partners.
  • We’re so excited to keep sharing the perspectives, insights, and experiences of ECOPs with our network in Canada and internationally beyond IMPAC5 and the Ocean Decade.
(c) Ashley Bowes
(c) Samantha Dimitraki
Montreal, QC | December 7-19, 2022

📣 UN Ocean Decade event @ #COP15!

🌀”An Ocean of Life” explored the challenges and opportunities to move from knowledge to action in marine and coastal ecosystems.

ECOP Fae Sapsford was part of the panel for: Marine and coastal biodiversity knowledge needs for policy and society in the context of the post 2020 global biodiversity framework – talking about her work with the Sargasso Sea Commission.

(c) Ashley Bowes
(c) Ashley Bowes
(c) Meg Callon

Hosted in Toronto, December 4 – 8, 2022, the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting 2022 (ASM2022) is a hub for Arctic and northern research in Canada. Engaging with early career researchers at ArcticNet will ensure the voices of ECOPs from coast to coast to coast are strengthened and heard. 

🎉 Here are a few awesome highlights & achievements from our time at the conference: 🌊

  • We engaged with a lot of folks that had no information on the decade and informed them of opportunities to participate and strengthen their voice.
  • 38 early career researchers signed up as ECOP Canada members
  • We rocked our interactive workshop and collected perspectives on the Ocean Decade from around 50 early-career researchers
  • We gave out 1136 specially designed stickers of Narwhal, Humpback Whale, and Great Pacific Octopus.
  • ArcticNet’s ASM 2022 marked the first conference in which our ECOP Canada t-shirts made an appearance – we feel so official! 
  • We supported a Red River Metis-settler interdisciplinary researcher and beadwork artist, Danielle Nowosad by purchasing a handmade beaded pin of a water drop. This was our first prize giveaway to early career researchers who signed up for free ECOP Canada membership at our table.
  • We engaged many early career researchers who floated into the Ocean, Freshwater, and Us room to check out the giant floor map and augmented reality (AR) experience to explore marine environments and watersheds in Canada. Thanks to our partners at Ocean Week Canada, the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition, and SOI Foundation for this successful collaboration.
  • We joined many incredible researchers and designs at the two poster sessions to present our poster on Early Career Ocean Professional Landscape in Canada: Needs, Beliefs and Ideas.
  • We were featured as special guests at Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the ORCA booth to engage participants on Canada’s Ocean Decade and ECOPs’ role in the Decade.
  • We helped fund the participation at ArcticNet’s ASM of 5 early-career researchers whose work focuses on the Arctic.
We hosted a Webinar: Postsecondary & Early Career Toolkit – How your talent can make an impact in the ocean sector with Ocean Networks Canada and Ocean Week Canada

Are you an early career professional or student looking to explore opportunities in the ocean sector?
On November 29th we hosted a webinar to learn more about the Postsecondary & Early Career toolkit, an online resource that features career pathways and professional networks in the ocean sector, as well as information on ocean health and sustainability.

(c) Samantha McBeth


Join our Group on the Ocean Decade Network

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