Program Academic Director

Geoff Coughlan has been at the forefront of integrated coastal and ocean management and marine spatial planning (MSP) in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) over the last two decades. Geoff proposed, and led the development of the first graduate level marine spatial planning program in North America that commenced in September 2016 at Memorial University’s Fisheries and Marine Institute. Geoff Coughlan

He currently serves as an instructor and Academic Director of the program. Program development included engagement of international MSP expertise and raised awareness of MSP for local stakeholders. The program aims to contribute to increased MSP capacity in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and internationally.

Previously Geoff worked with Fisheries and Oceans Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Region where he served a coordination role for development of an integrated management plan for one of five priority Large Ocean Management Areas in Canada (as per Canada’s Oceans Act and Canada’s Oceans Strategy).

He played a similar role for development of the Placentia Bay Integrated Management Plan for the Placentia Bay Coastal Management Area and was also involved in the establishment of the Eastport Marine Protected Areas (both as per Canada’s Oceans Act and Canada’s Oceans Strategy). These initiatives involved working collaboratively with a variety of stakeholders including government, academia, coastal communities, First Nations and industry groups.

As Oceans Governance Coordinator he was responsible for coordination of governance mechanisms for oceans management in the NL Region including provision of secretariat support for the executive level federal/provincial Regional Oversight Committee and Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Committee on Oceans Management.

In addition, Geoff has experience with the development of geospatial-based products to support MSP and was lead author of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland Atlas of Human Activities providing explanatory text to accompany mapping products. In addition, he played an oversight role for the development of the Community-Based Coastal Resource Inventory for Northern Labrador.

In November 2021 Geoff organized and presented at a session on Coastal and Ocean Data and Marine Spatial Planning as Key Foundations Supporting the Blue Economy as part of the Fisheries and Marine Institute’s three-day virtual Propelling the Blue Economy Symposium and in 2020 he was invited to present How Marine Atlases Support Marine Spatial Planning Requirements at the COINAtlantic/Fisheries and Oceans Canada Maritimes Region Data Sharing for An Atlantic Canada Marine Atlas Workshop.

In January of 2019, Geoff was invited to provide the opening presentation at a federal/provincial MSP workshop to help launch NL regional efforts regarding Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new national focus on MSP. The presentation MSP – An Overview for Newfoundland and Labrador provided background on MSP as well as it’s applicability to the Newfoundland Labrador coastal and ocean management context. This continued Geoff’s efforts to raise awareness of MSP and to assist in the development of MSP capacity in the province. In October 2019 he was invited to present An Introduction to Marine Spatial Planning at the Atlantic Planners Institute annual conference held in St. John’s. In 2016 he co-organized an Aquaculture and Coastal Planning workshop and presented Aquaculture and the Coastal and Ocean Planning and Management Context in Newfoundland and Labrador at the Aquaculture Canada and Cold Harvest 2016 in St. John’s, NL Canada and organized and presented at the workshop Marine Spatial Planning: Lessons Learned from British Columbia in St. John’s, NL Canada.

In 2015 he organized the Newfoundland and Labrador and Ireland Sharing Coastal and Ocean Data Workshop and provided the opening presentation to introduce the workshop. That year Geoff also served on the advisory committee for the 2015 International Marine Spatial Planning: Sharing Practical Solutions Symposium, sponsored by the Rhode Island Sea Grant, The Coastal Resources Center at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. In 2014 he organized and presented at the information session and panel discussion Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning: Including Applications for Sustainable Aquaculture Development. Speakers were invited from the World Ocean Council (USA) Coastal and Marine Research Centre (Ireland) and University of Stirling Institute of Aquaculture (Scotland). That year he also presented a Humber Arm Atlantic Coastal Action Program Coastal Matters Lecture entitled Developing Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Capacity in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In 2013 Geoff was a member of the founding Board of Directors for the Petty Harbour Mini Aquarium and served on the board for a three year period.

Outside of work he enjoys family time with his wife Elizabeth and two young kids, fly-fishing, hiking, gardening, traveling and cooking.

Contact Information
Office Phone – 709 778-0568
My office is located in the School of Fisheries room W2031 at the Fisheries and Marine Institute 155 Ridge Road.