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Vancouver, B.C. Aquarium Nets National Recognition as Outstanding Ocean Learning Center

Release Date: 10/14/2009
Contact Information: Renee Dagseth, EPA Community Involvement, (206) 553-1889,; Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203,; Kent Hurl, Vancouver Aquarium Public Relations, (604) 659-3752,

(Vancouver, B.C. - October 14, 2009) The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, one of Canada’s preeminent aquariums in British Columbia, will be designated the 23rd Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center (CELC) by Coastal America. Coastal America is charged with protecting the nation’s vulnerable coastal ecosystems. The designation will be presented by Laura Furgione, Assistant Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center network was established in 1996 by Coastal America, an interagency federal partnership that works to protect, preserve and restore the nation’s coastal ecosystems. The interagency partnership is chaired by the Council on Environmental Quality. The Learning Centers are selected to serve as regional educational centers that work closely with the United States’ federal partners to educate the public about the nature and value of coastal resources. The partnership consists of 16 federal agencies, 23 CELCs and the hundreds of corporate partners of the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (CWRP). The CELCs are a major focus of the partnership.

“As a Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center, the Vancouver Aquarium will help us teach people about the importance of our coastal resources,” said Michelle Pirzadeh, acting U.S. EPA regional administrator in Seattle. “We look forward to working with the Vancouver Aquarium to share information and technical expertise and help protect these precious areas.”

As the Chair of the Northwest Regional Team, EPA Region 10 is leading the effort to identify U.S. agency commitments. EPA Region 10 proposed commitments are:

    • EPA Region 10 dive team will cross-train with U.S. and Canadian agencies to address derelict fishing gear in Puget Sound/Georgia Basin;
    • Provide technical assistance on geographic information systems (GIS) and computerized displays, including fully integrated GIS mapping of the Columbia River Basin and other trans-border watersheds;
    • Access to EPA vessel OSV Bold in 2011 for collaborative research in Puget Sound/Georgia Basin;
    • Organize photo exhibit from Northwest Regional Implementation Team (NWRIT) members highlighting the efforts of the members’ efforts to preserve, conserve and restore coastal habitat; and
    • Share local geographical and biological data.
“We are honored to receive this designation. In addition to expanded public education, our status as a Coastal America Learning Center will also enable scientific collaboration on ocean and coastal issues with US federal agencies and network partners,” commented Dr. John Nightingale, President of the Vancouver Aquarium. “It is an opportunity for Canada to strengthen our leadership in this critical area.”

This designation is especially prestigious for the partnership because the Vancouver Aquarium is Canada’s largest aquarium and significantly increases the ability of the Learning Center network to reach an expanded public and they are the first Learning Center in Canada. Partnering with the Coastal America federal agencies will enhance Vancouver Aquarium’s ability to educate the public about important ocean and coastal issues. More than 4 million visitors have toured the Aquarium since 2005.

Additional commitments from U.S. federal agencies such as NOAA, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S Navy and others include cross-border initiatives to address salmon management, invasive species, marine debris and marine protected areas. The Coastal America Learning Center Network has also made commitments for collaborative outreach efforts, educational materials and exhibitory related to environmental issues of regional significance. For a listing of commitments and program initiatives go to:

For additional information about Coastal America, visit: