Arctic GIS Workshop Poster Abstract
Oceans Program Activity Tracking (OPAT) System
The Oceans Program Activity Tracking (OPAT) system is an interactive mapping and information system designed to track, share and display details on program activities established under the federal Oceans Act. Using a graphic user interface and linked databases the system allows program authorities of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to directly convey and edit information on program activities via the internet through the use of electronic forms and on-screen editing capabilities. The system displays these activities in the context of ocean features and uses such as the delineation of marine ecosystem boundaries and the location of submarine telecommunications cables, aquaculture sites, and oil and gas activities in Canada's marine and coastal environments.
The OPAT system is joint initiative of the Marine Ecosystems Conservation Branch (MECB) of Fisheries and Oceans Canada in partnership with the Minerals and Mining Statistics Division (MMSD) of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). Based on the latest trends in internet mapping technology, the tools used to operationalize the OPAT system include Autodesk MapGuide software and Active Server pages running on a Microsoft NT Server. Building on NRCan's experience and expertise in the use of internet mapping tools, the partnership directly responds to the need for government departments and agencies to work together to rationalize existing resources and respond effectively to the needs of Canadians for useful and timely program information.
Since the passage of the federal Oceans Act in 1997, ocean programs activities including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Integrated Management Plans (IMPs) and Marine Environmental Quality (MEQ) projects have been initiated and are continuing to evolve in each of Canada's three ocean environments. Each of these initiatives varies substantially in scale, complexity, development, stakeholder involvement and are in pursuit of substantially different goals and objectives depending upon local circumstances, stakeholder interests and environmental needs. As the Branch responsible for the management and coordination of the Oceans Programs, the MECB required a simple and dynamic tool to plan, track and report on program activities in a consistent manner that could be used by managers, practitioners and interested parties alike.
The OPAT System currently provides a wealth of information on more than 80 ocean program activities underway across Canada. Within the system are detailed descriptions on all projects including locations, objectives, key issues, partners involved, existing management frameworks, key contacts and other significant sources of information. Many project descriptions also contain pictures, videos and hot links to other important sources of information.
In September 2000 a public version of the OPAT System (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/index-eng.htm) was released to provide all Canadians and other interests with greater access to information on Canada's oceans programs. Comments on the System have been favourable to date with many parties both within and outside of government recognizing how this tool may be used to facilitate improved communication on, and coordination of, programs aimed at improved ocean management, planning and conservation.