Geoff Coughlan


School of Fisheries

Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University

P.O. Box 4920, St. John's,

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, A1C 5R3

Phone: Tel: (709) 778-0568
Education & career

Geoff Coughlan has been at the forefront of integrated coastal and ocean management and marine spatial planning (MSP) in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) for the past fifteen years. 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.

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 integrated management plan for the Placentia Bay Coastal Management Areaand 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 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 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. 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.

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

Current teaching activities

In addition to serving as Academic Director of the Fisheries and Marine Institute's Master of Marine Studies (Marine Spatial Planning and Management) program, I am also an instructor teaching the following courses as part of the program

  • MSTM 6011 Introduction to Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management / Marine Spatial Planning
  • MSTM 6013 Resource/Natural Environment and Ocean Use Characterization
  • MSTM 6015 Marine Protected Areas

Group membership

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