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Archived 2005-2010 Strategic Plan: Our Waters, Our Future

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Minister's Message

As Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I am pleased to present my Department's 2005 Strategic Plan.

The actions of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) staff affect the environment, the economic opportunities and the social and cultural life of people and communities across Canada. That's why DFO is planning the way ahead with a clear vision, objectives and priorities, and that is the purpose of the 2005 Strategic Plan - Our Waters, Our Future.

The Strategic Plan launches a new vision for the Department. It is "excellence in service to Canadians to ensure the sustainable development and safe use of Canadian waters." The principle of sustainable development is fundamental to this Plan and shapes the way we serve the needs of Canadians. This means that environmental, economic and social considerations are at the root of all decision-making within the Department.

Linking our work to broader Government of Canada priorities, this plan clearly states DFO's key priorities for action: the Oceans Action Plan; International Governance; Fisheries Renewal; Aquaculture Governance; Coast Guard Rejuvenation; Environmental Process Modernization and Science Renewal. It also highlights the key cross-priority issue of Aboriginal Policy and Governance. Each of these priorities is crucial to the future of our fisheries and oceans resources.

The Canadian Coast Guard is also looking to the future as it prepares to become a Special Operating Agency within the DFO portfolio in April 2005. The Coast Guard is a highly valued national institution. As an SOA it will be in a better position to support the Department in meeting important government priorities, including Marine Security, the Strategy for the North and the Oceans Action Plan, and to provide high quality services to Canadians.

DFO is also renewing its science program to ensure we have a flexible, innovative scientific organization that is able to deliver the high-quality information and advice we need to support our programs, policies and decision-making processes both within the Department and government-wide.

While the oceans economy is currently valued at more than $22B, there remains considerable unrealized economic potential with rapidly growing industries such as offshore oil and gas, aquaculture and eco-tourism and new frontiers for discovery such as seabed mapping and earth observation. There is also considerable economic potential in the traditional fishing and aquaculture industries which amount to over $4.5B in fish exports. Moreover, safe and accessible waterways are of critical importance to hundreds of communities whose prosperity is directly tied to marine transportation.

The fundamental theme of Our Waters, Our Future is balancing our commitments with available resources to provide quality services to Canadians. The Plan outlines a wide variety of initiatives we have underway, which are not small in number or short on ambition. As Minister, I am committed to working closely with people throughout the country to achieve this important work.

The Honourable Geoff Regan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

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Deputy Minister's Message

As Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), I am delighted that our Department is moving forward with its 2005 Strategic Plan, Our Waters, Our Future.

This renewed Strategic Plan builds on what we have learned in recent years about the way we do business and outlines how we intend to fulfill our mission and achieve our vision for DFO over the next several years. I am grateful to the many employees across the country whose efforts contributed to the development of this Plan. With its guidance, we will continue to work as a team, with the support of our many partners, to put this Plan into action and provide essential, quality services to Canadians.

DFO's key priorities for action include the Oceans Action Plan, International Governance, Fisheries Renewal, Aquaculture Governance, Coast Guard Rejuvenation, Environmental Process Modernization and Science Renewal, as well as cross-priority issues such as Aboriginal Policy and Governance. By focusing on our key priorities, we can build a stronger DFO and help ensure that Canada's oceans and freshwater resources will be healthy and safe in the years to come.

Preparing for the future also means supporting our dedicated, professional workforce through HR modernization and by creating an organizational culture that champions openness and transparency. Sound financial management, integrated planning and reporting, and integrated risk management and management accountability are all important changes that are leading to a better working environment at DFO.

DFO is a unique organization with a broad mandate. In providing our many services, DFO's core operational responsibilities touch on the lives of many Canadians. We are an organization with strong core values - respect, integrity and responsibility. In carrying out our mandated responsibilities we strive to provide quality services to Canadians.

DFO's activities are complex, and balancing our commitments with available financial and human resources will continue to be a big challenge like all other federal departments. DFO's future will include expenditure reviews and reallocation of resources to meet the government's highest priorities and ensure efficient use of taxpayers' dollars. While we will need to re-evaluate our progress along the way, I am optimistic that, equipped with this plan, we will have the focus and momentum we need to meet our strategic objectives and achieve best results for Canadians in the coming years.

Larry Murray
Deputy Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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The fundamental theme of the 2005 Strategic Plan, Our Waters, Our Future is balancing our commitments with available resources to provide quality services to Canadians. The 2005 Plan sets out objectives and priorities for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) for the next five years and establishes a renewed vision and mission. It includes profiles of DFO employees from across the country and aims to help departmental employees identify how their work fits into the bigger picture.

Our Waters, Our Future is built on the foundation established by the DFO planning and priority-setting process, the 2000 Strategic Plan and the Departmental Assessment and Alignment Project (DAAP). The 2005 Plan also includes input and comments from internal consultations.

This Strategic Plan articulates a renewed vision for the Department - Excellence in service to Canadians to ensure the sustainable development and safe use of Canadian waters. The Plan confirms DFO's mission to deliver to Canadians: Safe and Accessible Waterways, Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems, and Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture. Finally, it provides guidance on the Department's mandate and core values.

While this Strategic Plan sets out a five-year vision, it will be necessary to re-evaluate and adjust our priorities annually to ensure we continue to provide quality services to Canadians.

The DFO Strategic Plan sets out two objectives for the Department:

  1. Deliver programs that reflect the priorities of Canadians and are part of a fully integrated policy approach.
  2. Support DFO's dedicated, professional workforce by equipping it with the tools it needs.

DFO will meet these objectives while delivering a broad mandate. DFO is a national and international leader in marine safety and in the management of oceans and freshwater resources. The Department's activities and presence on Canadian waters help to ensure the safe movement of people and goods. As a sustainable development department, DFO will integrate environment, economic and social perspectives to ensure Canada's oceans and freshwater resources benefit this generation and many to come.

The Oceans Action Plan (OAP) is a horizontal approach to implementing the Oceans Act and Canada's Oceans Strategy that incorporates the activities of DFO and other departments. The Department will focus on a number of core policy priorities that are critical to DFO's ability to deliver on the OAP.

The Strategic Plan further identifies people and management priorities the Department will promote to support its employees. The following diagram outlines how the vision, objectives and priorities fit together to fulfill DFO's mission.

Our Waters, Our Future: Balancing our commitments with available resources to provide quality services to Canadians (Click on image to enlarge)

Click on image to enlarge

The Plan includes targets and deliverables that will be used to measure departmental progress on these priorities over the next five years.

The Strategic Plan is the core document for DFO's new integrated approach to planning that will link human resources, business, financial and strategic planning.   In implementing this Plan, the Department will strive to balance commitments with available resources.

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Our Waters, Our Future, the 2005 Strategic Plan, will guide the work of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) over the next five years.  This Plan outlines DFO's vision, objectives, priorities and activities.  The fundamental theme of Our Waters, Our Future is balancing our commitments with available resources to provide quality services to Canadians. 

The Plan highlights the Department's priorities for the next five years.  In addition to these priorities, DFO has a number of ongoing operational activities that are critical to delivering DFO's mandate, such as managing small craft harbours, updating and distributing hydrographic charts, and maintaining navigational aids.  Other critical functions include operating the CCG fleet, which serves as a platform for multiple DFO activities, and enforcing fisheries and habitat protection regulations.

This Plan is about setting objectives and direction to fulfill DFO's role as a sustainable development department.  It is also about taking pride in working for this unique department and the important work it does to meet the needs of Canadians.  Our Waters, Our Future includes profiles of DFO employees across the country who demonstrate the high level of commitment to the Department's mandate.

Our Waters, Our Future is built on the foundation established by the DFO planning and priority-setting process, the 2000 Strategic Plan, and, more recently, the Departmental Assessment and Alignment Project (DAAP).  The DAAP Final Report called for a strategic plan to implement its findings.  This Plan is informed by the views of employees across the country.  The DFO Departmental Management Committee provided leadership in setting priorities and confirming the strategic direction.  

2000 Strategic Plan

Why a Strategic Plan?
This strategic plan is a guide for the next five years. It maps out how the vision, objectives and priorities will be met. It will help the Department respond in a focused, effective and innovative way to the challenges it faces. It will also help DFO employees identify how their day-to-day work fits into the Department as a whole.

The 2000 Strategic Plan set three corporate objectives: restoring confidence and credibility, mandate renewal and organizational effectiveness.  To meet these objectives, five priorities were identified: program integrity, financial stability, policy renewal, continued management improvements and workforce rejuvenation. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has made significant progress toward meeting the objectives of the 2000 Strategic Plan and these continue to be important.  Policy frameworks for oceans, fisheries management and aquaculture have been developed and financial and management agendas aligned, particularly through the DAAP.  The organizational health of DFO continues to improve through recruitment and retention efforts and continuous learning, and through the implementation of initiatives such as the National Workplace Improvement Plan.

Safe and Accessible Waterways is about providing access to Canadian waterways, and ensuring the overall safety and integrity of Canada's marine infrastructure for the benefit of all Canadians.

Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems means the sustainable development and integrated management of resources in or around Canada's aquatic environment through oceans and fish habitat management, and the critical science activities that support these two programs.

Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture refers to an integrated fisheries and aquaculture program that is credible, science based, affordable and effective, and contributes to sustainable wealth for Canadians.

Enablers - The DFO enablers include Communications, Human Resources, Corporate Services, Legal Services, Policy and Review.  Their role is to ensure a solid framework within which managers can effectively deliver services to Canadians.

Departmental Assessment and Alignment Project

The DAAP was a full-scale assessment of departmental human and financial resources, policy and program priorities, and management practices.  A key achievement of this review was the articulation of a framework to restore financial stability at DFO.  The DAAP also renewed DFO's policies and programs to focus on priorities, modernized the Department's management practices and processes, and recommended organizational changes to improve program outcomes.

The DAAP led to changes in DFO's planning and reporting structure, to align resources against three new outcomes for the Department: Safe and Accessible Waterways, Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems, and Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture, supported by strong Enabling Functions.

In 2004-2005, DFO will begin using this new planning and reporting structure, which aims to strengthen the links between programs, resources and expected results.  This reporting structure, which is required by Treasury Board Secretariat, is referred to as the Program Activity Architecture and will be the basis for public reporting in documents such as the Report on Plans and Priorities and the Departmental Performance Report.

To reflect the revised departmental outcomes, DFO implemented a number of organizational changes.  The Department merged its fisheries and aquaculture programs to strengthen the linkages between the management of wild and farmed fisheries.  In addition, the Oceans sector was renamed Oceans and Habitat in recognition of the importance of the Habitat Management Program.  In support of integrating corporate planning, the Human Resources and Corporate Services sectors were merged into one organization.  Finally, the Government of Canada signalled the importance of marine services in December 2003 when it announced that the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) would become a special operating agency within DFO. 

The future challenge is to respond to the Government of Canada's continuing commitment to review programs on an ongoing basis and reallocating resources from lower to higher priorities.  The Department will work over the coming years to ensure that the commitments of the DAAP are fulfilled and linked to our outcomes. 


This document reflects employee input: "We are proud of the work we do."

In developing Our Waters, Our Future, groups of employees across the country shared their thoughts on the Strategic Plan.  Employees agreed that Fisheries and Oceans Canada provides important services to Canadians and that all employees need to understand the Department's direction.  DFO must show leadership and vision, with clear priorities and a plan that reflects current realities.

Focus group sessions were also held with the Canadian public, Aboriginal people and stakeholders, including commercial fishers, environmentalists, members of the tourism industry and ocean industrialists.  First and foremost, Canadians care about the issues that are within DFO's mandate.  They value the Department's expertise and look for demonstrations of real progress in meeting the DFO vision. Canadians also look to DFO for leadership in the sustainable use of Canadian waters.

CCGS Mitchell

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What are vision and mission statements?
A vision statement describes the desired future for DFO, making it an essential element of strategic planning. The mission describes the core business, as DFO strives to achieve its vision.


Since the 2000 Strategic Plan, the vision, mission and mandate have been updated to reflect the DAAP, and what has been heard from employees.

In working toward these outcomes, the Department will be guided by the principles of sound scientific knowledge and effective management.



Excellence in service to Canadians to ensure the sustainable development and safe use of Canadian waters.


It is our mission, as DFO employees, to deliver to Canadians the following outcomes:

  • Safe and Accessible Waterways;
  • Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems; and

  • Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture.

On behalf of the Government of Canada, DFO is responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs in support of Canada's scientific, ecological, social and economic interests in oceans and fresh waters.

DFO is a national and international leader in marine safety and in the management of oceans and freshwater resources.  Departmental activities and presence on Canadian waters help to ensure the safe movement of people and goods.  As a sustainable development department, DFO will integrate environment, economic and social perspectives to ensure Canada's oceans and freshwater resources benefit this generation and those to come.

The Department's guiding legislation includes the Oceans Act, which charges the Minister with leading oceans management and providing coast guard and hydrographic services on behalf of the Government of Canada, and the Fisheries Act, which confers responsibility to the Minister for the management of fisheries, habitat and aquaculture.  The Department is also one of the three responsible authorities under the Species at Risk Act.

In real terms, what do we do?

  • Save lives.
  • Work with security forces to ensure the safe and secure use of Canada's waterways.
  • Help with ship-to-shore communication, navigation, and clear passageways for safe water travel.
  • Study, conserve and protect aquatic ecosystems.
    Conduct scientific research and related activities, which are vital to the understanding and sustainable management of Canada's oceans and aquatic resources.
  • Work in collaboration to manage the commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries.
  • Provide services to fishermen such as issuing licences.
  • Create the conditions to support a vibrant and sustainable aquaculture industry.
  • Maintain a network of harbours.
  • Ensure compliance with environmental standards and regulations in support of economic development and other activities.
  • Provide high-quality hydrographic data, products and services.
  • Co-ordinate clean-up efforts of pollution and oil spills.
  • Develop and promote the wise use of technology to ensure the long-term health of Canada's waters.

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Partners and Clients

As a service-oriented department, the work of DFO directly affects many Canadians. 

Clients are as varied as the work.  They range from the commercial fishery, the marine transport industry and the oil and gas industry, to small craft harbour users, recreational fishers and boaters, as well as the national and international scientific communities.

Because of the broad nature of DFO's mandate, it is essential that the Department work collaboratively and involve and engage Aboriginal groups, stakeholders and clients in the decision-making process. 

DFO provides quality services to ensure that Canada's fisheries and oceans industries remain an important part of Canadian life for generations to come. These services are often provided in collaboration with other government departments, provincial and territorial governments, Aboriginal groups, industry, universities and colleges, the international marine community, non-governmental organizations, communities, and volunteer groups, such as the CCG Auxiliary and Small Craft Harbour Authority program.

The following map highlights a few of the diverse clients DFO supports and the services provided.

(Click on image to enlarge)
Click on image to enlarge

* The inventory of 1,243 harbours is composed of 1,010 commercial fishing harbours and 233 recreational harbours; 686 of the commercial fishing harbours are managed by Harbour Authorities.
** Published in 2004 by Statistics Canada: Shipping in Canada 2002.

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Frédéric Butruille
 Frédéric Butruille characterizes the next generation of DFO employees and fills an important role as the Manager for Corporate and Internal Communications and as the President of the Gulf Fisheries Employee Association by ensuring employees are connected and informed.

Deborah Bowes-Lyon
With a commitment to learning, Deborah Bowes-Lyon plays a key role in the future of the Canadian Coast Guard as a Search and Rescue instructor for the Canadian Coast Guard College.

The DFO Team

Over 10,000 departmental employees are part of a diverse team that is on the ground and on the water in over 400 sites spread across every region of the country.  Fully 87 percent of the DFO team work outside the National Capital Region.   Fisheries and Oceans Canada employees work in a wide variety of jobs that include scientists, instructors, ships' officers and crew, fisheries officers, engineers, radio operators, administrators, hydrographers and economists.

The DFO team is diverse: women (30%), visible minorities (3.7%), Aboriginal peoples (3.3%), and persons with disabilities (4.4%).  The Department is also working toward a healthy representation of official languages, with an increasing proportion of employees having French as a first language (21.5%).

Departmental employees are dedicated to providing a high level of service.  It is important to consider the required supports for the DFO team to ensure the same quality of employees in the future and enhance the diversity of the DFO workforce.

Employee distribution

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Values are important to our organization because they remind us of what we stand for as DFO employees, how we expect to be treated and how we will treat others.

In September 2003, the Government of Canada released the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.  This Code sets out a balanced framework of public service values: democratic, professional, ethical and people values. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has revisited its values to ensure they align with these public service values and remain relevant and consistent with the Department's strategic direction.

The Values, Integrity and Conflict Resolution (VICR) team met with employees across the Department to re-examine DFO's values statement.  From discussions to date, employees believe DFO is a unique place to work.  They value being part of the DFO team and are committed to DFO's mandate.  Employees believe in the work they do and feel connected to Canadians.  They are committed to working together as a team, and respect each other's differences. 

The following values have been identified as responding to the views and beliefs of employees in discussions to date.

Being professional and courteous

Being honest, truthful and reliable

Being personally accountable and committed

  • Respecting and accepting government and departmental priorities
  • >Being recognized as a valued and respected member of the team
  • Treating colleagues and clients with respect
  • Respecting the knowledge that all employees bring to DFO
  • Valuing individual differences and taking other viewpoints into consideration
  • Setting high standards as individuals
  • Being transparent in dealings with others
  • Ensuring that actions and words represent the interests of Canadians, not personal interests
  • Providing advice that is impartial, objective, factual and furthers the Department's objectives
  • Being committed to open communication
  • Being honest and fair with colleagues
  • Protecting the public interest
  • Providing quality service to Canadians
  • Aligning efforts, energy and expertise with government and departmental priorities
  • Contributing knowledge and professionalism to further the Department's mandate
  • Fulfilling duties in a professional manner
  • Being generous with skills and knowledge
  • Acting as part of the DFO team

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DFO's strategic context includes issues Canadians have identified as priorities as well as global and domestic trends that affect operations on a daily basis.  These issues cut across all of DFO's strategic priorities and managing them is integral to the overall success of the Department. 

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is an ongoing priority for DFO to support the building of a strong economy while protecting Canada's natural environment.  The Government of Canada states that development is essential to satisfy human needs and improve the quality of human life, but must be based on the efficient and environmentally responsible use of all of society's scarce resources - natural, human and economic.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada has an important role to play in the federal government's sustainable development agenda. It is therefore important to view programs from the perspective of an approach that integrates environment, economic, and social analysis and to practise the principles of sustainable development in decision-making. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada must address a number of sustainable development issues. Land- and sea-based pollution, habitat destruction and some decline in wild fish stocks, and loss of biodiversity are all serious issues which have a major impact on Canada's waters and aquatic resources.  The protection of endangered species, through the Species at Risk Act, is critical as DFO implements the Act's provisions for aquatic species.  This is changing the way we do business as we consider the impact of our decisions on endangered or threatened species. 

Through effective regulation and while maintaining environmental protection, the Department can support economic development activities, such as fishing, aquaculture, oil and gas development, navigation, ecotourism, agriculture, forestry and urban development.  As well, DFO has a key role in the federal effort to understand and mitigate climate change and its impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions. 

Aboriginal People

Building stronger relationships and improving the quality of life of Aboriginal people in Canada is a key commitment of the federal government.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada has an important role to play in meeting this commitment by helping to build capacity and increase access to economic opportunities in Aboriginal communities where DFO manages the fishery.  Northern Aboriginal communities face particular challenges in dealing with the ramifications of global climate change; DFO can assist these communities through the CCG's role in providing adequate icebreaking service and ice information in and around Arctic waters.

Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decisions, such as Sparrow and Marshall, have provided guidance on the nature and scope of Aboriginal and treaty rights and of governments' responsibility to manage natural resources in a manner consistent with these rights. These decisions have led to Aboriginal people seeking greater access to fisheries resources and a greater role in the management of those resources.  Aboriginal groups are also seeking greater involvement in other areas, such as Integrated Oceans Management, species at risk, habitat management, scientific analysis and aquaculture. The SCC, in the recent Taku/Haida decision, ruled that the Government of Canada has a legal duty to consult and accommodate the rights of Aboriginal groups on decisions that might adversely affect them even if the rights have not yet been proven in courts.  This is particularly important in managing fisheries and habitat.

To respond to these challenges, Fisheries and Oceans Canada needs to better address commercial access issues and more actively involve Aboriginal groups in decision-making processes.  Building on existing relationships with Aboriginal groups, DFO will work to improve decision-making processes and management decisions while increasing certainty and stability for all groups around fishery access. 

Strong Economy

Canada's economic outlook remains strong.  In the coming years, the value of the wild fishery, aquaculture development and resource exploration industries will continue to grow.  Opportunities are also on the rise in oil, gas and mineral production and transportation, particularly in the North.  This broad growth should mean a narrowing of disparities across regions.  However, within regions it could translate into a widening of disparities between urban growth sectors and the Department's traditional clients. 

In support of a strong economy, the Government of Canada renewed the emphasis on Smart Regulation, the objective of which is to modernize regulation to enhance conditions for an innovative economy and find improved ways to meet high standards of social and environmental protection.  It is not deregulation, but better regulation.  Smart Regulation will reform how programs are delivered and bring change to the Federal Regulatory Policy governing how federal legislation and regulations are developed.  DFO has three initiatives that support the government-wide Smart Regulation agenda:  the Environmental Process Modernization Plan, the creation of an enabling regulatory framework for aquaculture, and possible forthcoming amendments to the Fisheries Act.  Smart Regulation provides DFO with the policy framework required to find the right balance between environmental protection and flexibility for industry and communities.  The role of the Department will be tested over the coming five years in such areas as northern oil and gas development, and the implementation of the Species at Risk Act.

Tom Maher
Working in the Canadian Coast Guard for over 20 years, Tom Maher plays a pivotal role in the operations of Marine Programs in Hay River. With an exceptional understanding and interest in Canada's North, Tom's accomplishments help achieve all facets of the Coast Guard vision from protecting the aquatic environment, to safety, to scientific excellence.

Canada's North is a sensitive environment with significant development potential.  It is an important area for rural and regional development, but the challenge will be to encourage development in a sustainable way.  The Government of Canada has committed to developing a comprehensive federal northern strategy.  DFO will need to make contributions in key areas of this strategy, including economic development, the protection of the northern environment, Canada's sovereignty and security, and the promotion of co-operation with the international circumpolar community.  In the context of this federal northern strategy, the Department will strengthen the coherence of its northern program delivery.

Canada's Role in the World

In an increasingly integrated world, it is no longer possible to separate domestic and international policies.  With the increased global movement of goods, services, and people, a fair and predictable trading system is important to commerce and investment, and there are implications for Canadian sovereignty and security. This includes border and marine security, as well as links to the environment, including oceans governance. 

These challenges provide an opportunity for Canada and DFO to take a leadership role on the global stage, through participation in international organizations and scientific efforts, particularly on issues such as the protection of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, high seas biodiversity and Arctic concerns. 

Science and Technology

Lucius Perreault
Contributing to scientific innovation at DFO, Lucius Perreault maintains and develops acoustics instrumentation used in a variety of scientific studies. Lucius is an Oceanographic Electronics Technician who works aboard research vessels in the Pacific Region.

As the cost and demand for new and more specialized scientific knowledge increase, the challenges associated with providing the necessary scope and depth of scientific advice become ever greater.  To address these challenges, collaborative partnerships with the national and international science communities in support of better decision-making and the development of sound policies, standards and regulations will be necessary.  To reinforce our mandate of science in the support of the public good, we will continue to move towards an ecosystem approach and take advantage of opportunities provided by new technologies such as those in the areas of earth observation, biotechnology, and mapping. 

Intergovernmental Relations

The shared nature of Canada's natural resources means the full implementation of the Department's mandate requires considerable federal/provincial/territorial co-operation. With growth in the social, environmental and economic importance of the North, and issues such as increased oil and gas exploration, foreign overfishing, fisheries renewal and aquaculture development, interjurisdictional co-operation and clarification will become increasingly important.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will work through the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers to address fisheries and aquaculture issues of national importance co-operatively and effectively, particularly those issues related to aquatic species at risk, freshwater fisheries, aquatic invasive species and recreational fisheries.

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The fundamental theme of Our Waters, Our Future is balancing our commitments with available resources to provide quality services to Canadians.  DFO will maintain a focus on providing excellent services to Canadians and will build a strong program and policy agenda that responds to emerging priorities.  To meet the needs of its clients, while supporting its employees and managing within available financial resources, the Department has identified two strategic objectives:

  1. Deliver programs that reflect the priorities of Canadians and are part of a fully integrated policy approach.

    In support of this objective, the Department will focus on a number of priority areas that are critical to DFO's ability to deliver on the Oceans Action Plan (OAP).  The development of the OAP serves a dual function: as a government-wide plan for Canada's oceans, coastal and offshore areas, and as an organizing policy framework for DFO's policies and activities.  In addition to these priorities, Aboriginal Policy and Governance remains a key cross-cutting issue that affects much of DFO's policy agenda.  As DFO moves forward, it will be essential to maintain the links between the priorities and the work of other departments and other governments. 
  2. Support DFO's dedicated, professional workforce by equipping it with the tools it needs.

    To continue providing the best possible service to Canadians, DFO needs to give its people the necessary organizational and management supports.  DFO employees are dedicated to their work, even under difficult circumstances, but there is a need to support them through good human resource planning, financial and information management.  DFO must also provide its employees with tools such as boats, vehicles and training, to ensure that operations remain on a solid footing.

    Fisheries and Oceans Canada has identified priority areas to focus on in the coming years.  These priority areas will allow the Department to meet the outcomes included in the mission statement: Safe and Accessible Waterways (SAW), Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems (HAPAE), Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture (SFA), and strong enabling functions.

The following diagram outlines how the vision, objectives and priorities fit together to fulfill DFO's mission.

Our Waters, Our Future: Balancing our commitments with available resources to provide quality services to Canadians (Click on image to enlarge)

Click on image to enlarge

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Strategic Objective 1
Deliver programs that reflect the priorities of Canadians and are part of a fully integrated policy approach.

Oceans Action Plan

Marie-France Dalcourt
Working with partners and clients, Marie-France Dalcourt is realizing the commitments of Canada's Oceans Action Plan by implementing Quebec Region's integrated management program with great ability and enthusiasm.

Oceans issues are complex and cut across jurisdictions, sectors, international boundaries and communities of interest.  This horizontal focus calls for the involvement of citizens, communities, stakeholders, Aboriginal organizations and all levels of government.   

The Oceans Act came into force in 1997, and established the legislative framework for a co-ordinated federal approach to oceans.  The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has the lead responsibility to develop and implement a national strategy for the management of Canada's estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems.  In July 2002, the Government of Canada released Canada's Oceans Strategy, which outlines how the Oceans Act will be implemented. 

Over the next five years, we will implement an Oceans Action Plan (OAP) for environmental, social, and economic development of Canada's oceans, offshore and coastal areas. 

The OAP is a horizontal approach to implementing the Oceans Act and Canada's Oceans Strategy that incorporates the activities of DFO and other departments.  The approach demands working collaboratively to leverage strengths, capacities and resources.  Fisheries and Oceans Canada will focus on building and nurturing solid working relationships across almost 20 federal organizations with oceans responsibilities.  The Department will also work with provinces and territories to develop agreements for joint implementation of oceans management initiatives. 

The Oceans Action Plan positions Canada to address the challenges of modern oceans management for the 21st century.  The Department will lead and facilitate development of a horizontally aligned approach to Canada's Oceans Strategy across the federal government.  The OAP also provides an umbrella framework for DFO oceans priorities, and many of the initiatives in Our Waters, Our Future will support its delivery.  For example, CCG Rejuvenation will support the Oceans Action Plan by ensuring a platform to provide critical services on all three coasts.  Fisheries Renewal will set the stage for modernizing governance arrangements in the fisheries industry that will support integrated oceans management.

The five-year goal is for Canada to consolidate its place as a world leader in oceans management. Within DFO and across the federal government, the focus will be on making significant progress in delivering key commitments under each of the four pillars of the OAP.

  • International Leadership, Sovereignty and Security - Assert sovereignty, including continued monitoring and management of Canada's Arctic waters and resources; address overfishing and security issues; and apply Canadian jurisdiction within an effective international oceans governance framework (e.g. by addressing high seas biodiversity, deficiencies in high seas regimes and implementing existing commitments).
  • Integrated Oceans Management - Promote relations with stakeholders that will address conflicts and benefit communities in key oceans areas, based on the principles of ecosystem-based management and the precautionary approach (e.g., by implementing Integrated Management plans).
  • Health of the Oceans - Provide the backbone of marine conservation and sustainability by protecting critical marine environments, addressing counter pollution and aquatic animal health (e.g., by designating key Marine Protected Areas and national protection measures).
  • Oceans Science and Technology - Build an environment that promotes growth in leading ocean technologies and mapping priority areas, using science in support of ecosystem-based management (e.g., opportunities for Canadian marine technology firms to develop and apply new technologies).

International Governance

Elaine Rolls
A Fishery Officer in the NAFO Regulatory Area, Elaine Rolls exemplifies Canada's work in protecting our fisheries and oceans resources both inside and outside the 200-mile limit. Elaine conducts activities as part of DFO's offshore surveillance detachment in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region.

Overfishing, collapsing fish stocks and degradation of marine ecosystems is a global problem requiring a suite of measures and approaches.  This problem affects Canada most acutely on the Grand Banks, which straddles the limits of Canada's Exclusive Economic Zone.  Fisheries in this area are managed by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), a multilateral organization that considers scientific information and sets quotas for its member states.  Key issues have been vessels fishing over the quota, fishing of stocks under a moratorium, and under-reporting of catch, all of which threaten the survival of several species.

A particular priority for Canada and DFO, given the importance of fishing to coastal communities, is to develop options and a strategy to address overfishing, including on the Grand Banks, outside the Atlantic 200-mile limit by working with European and other international partners to strengthen the international fisheries and oceans governance regime.

Canada's focus on international policies, tools and governance will inform a strategy to address overfishing and achieve effective international governance and protect oceans biodiversity.  Canada has flag state, port state, market state and, especially, coastal state rights and obligations to build on in this task on all three coasts, but these are of particular concern on the east coast.  The development of this strategy will be undertaken under the umbrella of the international leadership pillar of the OAP.

In the Spring of 2004, the Government of Canada took steps to strengthen surveillance and enforcement in the NAFO Regulatory Area, including the increased presence of DFO fishery officers and CCG patrol ships at the 200-mile limit.  The government also committed to increase diplomatic interventions with the European Union and NAFO member states.

Enhanced surveillance and direct diplomatic intervention have shown results in terms of changed behaviour of the fishing fleet.  However, a long-term solution depends on the integration of management tools, economic incentives, and legal and policy frameworks that together would form an effective governance regime for fisheries and oceans resources, including fragile ecosystems on the high seas.

Canada's ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in December 2003 strengthened the credibility of Canada's voice on international oceans issues.  UNCLOS adds further obligations, such as delimiting Canada's outer continental shelf, which will require, among other things, new mapping technologies.  Fulfilling Canada's mapping obligations will require the assistance of the Canadian Hydrographic Service.

The issues are complex and solutions, if they are to be effective, will need to be bold and creative.  This will enable protection of not only the Grand Banks, but other important ecosystems in Canada's three oceans.  More broadly, such reforms would benefit global oceans biodiversity, including fisheries resources, and will contribute to the achievement of World Summit on Sustainable Development goals to which Canada is a signatory.

Fisheries Renewal

Sandy Johnston
Responsible for Fisheries Management and Stock Assessment activities in the Northern B.C. and Yukon areas, Sandy Johnston has been a driver of change in the North by assisting in the negotiation of, and implementing the Transboundary and Yukon Annexes of the Pacific Salmon Treaty and engaging in a comprehensive domestic fisheries management consultation process.

Wild fisheries are under increasing environmental pressure and there is ongoing conflict over fisheries allocations.  There is a requirement to better manage environmental impacts of fishing, respond to the need to protect species at risk and participate in broader oceans management initiatives.  With the increase in the range of ocean uses, interested groups beyond the traditional fisheries sector seek input into fisheries management decisions. 

Aboriginal treaty negotiations and settlements continue to shape the fisheries economy.  Challenges exist in addressing commercial access for west coast First Nations and developing new models and approaches to co-management with Aboriginal groups across the country.  There also remains strong provincial and territorial interest in fisheries issues, requiring continued and strengthened intergovernmental co-operation. 

Over the next five years, a priority will be to develop a new governance model for fisheries management, including proposals to modernize the Fisheries Act.  Fisheries Renewal is an approach to meet short-term fiscal and program needs, set the stage for medium-term change and accommodate long-term direction. Ultimately, the fisheries management program will become more strategic, flexible and responsive to the needs of departmental clients.

The objective of Fisheries Renewal is to ensure a sustainable resource that provides for an economically viable and diverse industry, supported by a modern fisheries governance system.  The five-year goals of Fisheries Renewal are:

  • put conservation and sustainable use of the fishery as top management priorities;
  • promote the economic viability of the fishery by encouraging increased self-reliance and shared stewardship;
  • provide greater stability and transparency respecting access and allocation, as the key to a more stable and predictable business and operating environment for fishing enterprises;
  • improve Fisheries Management decision-making processes by increasing transparency and the participation of stakeholders, Aboriginal groups, and others; and
  • manage the fishery consistent with Aboriginal and treaty rights.

Strategies to achieve the vision have been developed through consultative exercises on both coasts, including the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Framework, Pacific New Directions, the Joint Task Group on Post-Treaty Fisheries and the First Nations Panel on Fisheries.  The consultations associated with these initiatives have built support for the direction of Fisheries Renewal. 

Although DFO faces financial constraints and a lack of public consensus on how to manage the fishery, the Department must move forward to revitalize its fisheries management program. The Fisheries Renewal agenda includes three streams of work to enable program and legislative renewal while putting in place the necessary operational supports.

  • Conservation, Stewardship and Compliance Renewal will be undertaken to focus on improving conservation outcomes through a new relationship with all resource users based on shared responsibility and accountability for resource management and its outcomes. 
  • Legislative Renewal will be explored to develop options and innovative regulatory and governance approaches to support Fisheries Renewal.
  • A Business Modernization Initiative will ensure business structures and practices complement and enable policy, program and legislative renewal.

Aquaculture Governance

Dr. Atef Mansour
Dr. Atef Mansour's work with both DFO and Memorial University in Newfoundland contributes to DFO's ability to make science-based decisions with regards to aquaculture. Atef is currently involved in studying fish husbandry and stress, fish physiology and fish health in aquaculture.

Canada has enormous potential to be a world aquaculture leader.  Strengths include extensive coastlines and productive marine and freshwater resources, a reputation for quality products, proximity to established and growing markets, an effective and efficient transportation infrastructure, an internationally reputable food inspection system, a skilled workforce and strong management expertise. However, obstacles, such as a cumbersome regulatory framework and trade barriers, keep Canada from realizing its potential.

To address these challenges, DFO will seek opportunities to create the conditions for the development of an environmentally sustainable, internationally competitive aquaculture industry in Canada.

Following the federal government's emphasis on regulatory streamlining, DFO will ensure that the regulations for aquaculture are effective and cost-efficient, while providing for accountability and transparency.   Science-based and risk-based decision-making will also be part of this approach, in keeping with the Aquaculture Policy Framework.

DFO will work toward developing a more integrated government response to emerging aquaculture opportunities and challenges through stronger collaboration with federal, provincial and territorial partners.  Together with these partners, DFO will establish a Framework Agreement on Aquaculture (FAA).  The objectives of the FAA are to clarify roles and responsibilities, establish common goals and standards for environmental monitoring, compliance and reporting, share databases, negotiate cost-sharing arrangements for joint programs and establish a framework for bilateral agreements. 

Public concerns about contaminants, diseases and overall healthiness of food (e.g., BSE, avian influenza, contaminants, and genetically modified foods) have consumers seeking assurances regarding the safety of their food supply.  In concert with a strong communications approach, DFO will work with the aquaculture industry and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to build credible systems for assuring the quality and safety of farmed seafood products.  These will include such things as quality assurance and control, traceability and on-farm food safety. 

Finally, DFO will promote increased public and consumer confidence by undertaking and publicizing measures to support the safety of aquaculture products and the environmental sustainability of aquaculture operations.

Canadian Coast Guard Rejuvenation

Lise Marchand
Thanks to teams like the one under the command of Lise Marchand, the first female commanding officer of a T-1200 (a medium sized ice-breaker), Canadians are ensured safe and accessible waterways.

The Canadian Coast Guard is vital to the delivery of oceans priorities and programs, including marine science and fisheries management. CCG and its fleet are instrumental in saving lives, facilitating maritime commerce, reducing damage to property, protecting the aquatic environment, and supporting marine security.  The CCG's capacity to deliver on these priorities is eroding rapidly due to insufficient capital investment over the last 20 years.  There is also a need to examine the delivery of services and rationalize deployment of assets to best support results for Canadians.

Over the next five years, DFO, through the CCG, will improve service delivery to Canadians and ensure efficient, balanced, cost-effective practices to provide CCG services in the best way possible. CCG will continue to use new technologies and strategic partnerships where necessary.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will implement the federal government's decision, announced in December 2003, to create the CCG as a Special Operating Agency (SOA) within the Department.  This will allow the CCG to focus on providing essential and valuable services to mariners in Canadian waters as well as support the Department's mandate through the provision of platforms for science and enforcement.

The transition to SOA status provides the potential for new flexibilities to deliver more efficient and effective services as a national institution focused on operations. It also enables the CCG to continue to strengthen its relationship with the rest of DFO and deliver critical services to all clients, while positioning it to play an enhanced support role with the developing national security agenda.

Milo Ewing
Milo Ewing represents the Canadian Coast Guard's responsibility to improve service delivery to Canadians by ensuring the continued operation of Marine Communications and Traffic Services equipment in the Maritimes Region.

Another key aspect of the transition to the SOA and a focus on service will be the establishment of sound business management practices to ensure DFO has the ability to manage increased financial flexibilities.

The Canadian Coast Guard is committed to the continued effective and efficient delivery of its mandate and to the provision of essential services to Canadians.  The CCG rejuvenation strategy aims to secure a sustainable service delivery model.  As part of that strategy, there is a need to examine options to renew the fleet's asset base.  This is to ensure the CCG's capacity to support the government's maritime priorities and programs, including maritime security, is on a sustainable footing.  The renewal of the CCG fleet is critical to implementing Canada's commitments to develop the Oceans Action Plan. The CCG provides platform support for all four pillars of the OAP.  Fleet renewal allows for enhanced on-water presence that will enable Canada to protect its territorial interests on all three coasts. There is also a need to examine a strategic investment and refurbishment of equipment to reinforce the Coast Guard's infrastructure.

The CCG is well‑positioned to provide a cost-effective, value‑added contribution to marine security through its infrastructure, assets, personnel and an around-the-clock capability to incorporate marine security applications into some of its existing programs.  Consequently, the CCG has increased its support to other government departments and agencies to help enhance marine security. 

The CCG is an efficient collector and collator of maritime traffic information.  Its operational readiness culture can link search and rescue, oil spill response and navigation safety capabilities directly into marine security demands for surveillance and information.  

The Canadian Coast Guard will continue to transform marine services through technology based productivity improvements, client service innovations, alternative service delivery and greater use of partnering. One key initiative is Marine Aids Modernization, the main objective of which is to adjust the current aids to navigation service without reducing the level of service standards, while taking advantage of modern technologies.  This involves implementing new technologies, and contracting out commissioning, decommissioning and maintenance where it is viable and makes sense to do so.

In transforming marine services, there is the potential to consider facilities rationalization in some situations.  The CCG will continue to explore rationalization options.  Gains are already being made in this area at the Dartmouth and Saint John bases.  As always, there is a need for comprehensive analysis before any options are considered.

Environmental Process Modernization

Julie Dahl
Julie Dahl plays an active role in her region to implement environmental process streamlining initiatives. As Area Chief of Habitat in Yellowknife, NT, Julie works with her Habitat Management team on addressing the wide range of issues they encounter.

The Habitat Management Program of DFO is a key federal regulatory program to conserve and protect fish habitat.  Under the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and now the Species at Risk Act, the Program's regulatory responsibilities have an impact on a wide range of individuals, communities and businesses.

A priority for DFO is the development of a new governance model for the Habitat Management Program to meet resource conservation objectives and enable industry to respond to economic forces.  The Environmental Process Modernization Plan (EPMP) provides the framework to reorient the Habitat Management Program.  This framework responds to public criticism that the current process is too cumbersome and resources could be better deployed to achieve the Program's objectives.  The EPMP is an excellent way for DFO to put into practice the Government of Canada's Smart Regulation agenda.  This does not mean lowering the level of protection, but providing protection in a fair and efficient way in the context of sustainable development.

By moving from a reactive and fragmented process to one that is more proactive, cohesive and strategic, DFO is changing the way it does business with respect to these regulatory responsibilities to protect fish habitat. 

The Department is working with provinces and territories, industry and other stakeholders to make decision-making processes more predictable, timely and transparent, and easier for the public to understand.  In doing so, DFO wants to be supportive of any potential social or economic opportunities. 

Putting EPMP into action involves five key activities. The first component is the implementation of a risk management framework, where efforts will focus on critical and sensitive fish habitat and on projects with the greatest risk of affecting fish habitat.  This approach is objective and science-based.  It will support decision-making through rating activity risk (e.g., high, medium, low) dependent on sensitivity of habitat and the potential severity of the impact.

Second, streamlining practices are being implemented with an initial focus on low-risk activities.  Through tools such as operating statements, guidelines, fact sheets, class authorizations and class screenings, proponents will have the information they require to proceed without further intervention by DFO in most cases.  In future years, the focus will turn to addressing medium- and higher-risk activities.

Third, improved policy coherence and predictability will ensure administrative fairness and program credibility.  The action plan will focus on the development of a practitioner's guide, training for all staff, and improved performance evaluation, monitoring and reporting. 

Fourth, DFO is renewing its emphasis on partnering, because the Department cannot succeed in the conservation and protection of fish habitat by itself.  This includes creating and furthering co-operative arrangements with external partners (e.g., provinces, industry sectors, Aboriginal groups, others) that identify common priorities and spell out how to work together effectively and efficiently.

Finally, DFO is implementing a new management model within the Department for more complex activities which have nationally significant socio-economic implications.  This will strengthen the accountability measures at senior levels, improve interdepartmental co-ordination and communication, better harmonize federal and provincial reviews and facilitate more timely application of the environmental review process.

Science Renewal

Beth Lenentine
Responsible for the care and rearing of the endangered inner Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon within a live gene bank, Beth Lenentine consistently demonstrates devotion to both her work at the Coldbrook Biodiversity Facility and to educating local school children and international experts on the importance of her work with the salmon.

As a science-based department, the rigours of scientific excellence must be applied to provide high-quality, timely and relevant scientific advice in support of sound policy development and informed decision-making. Science is essential to support departmental strategic objectives and a number of federal priorities.  Through science-policy integration, and in collaboration with other science organizations, the Science program supports the achievement of DFO's outcomes and government-wide priorities by providing an understanding of Canada's waters, and the factors that influence the sustainable development of living and non-living aquatic resources.

The demand for relevant scientific information and advice on complex issues of importance to Canadians will increase.  To better respond to these increasing expectations, DFO must align its Science program with emerging priorities, while continuing to provide scientific advice on long-standing mandated responsibilities.

The Science program needs to be flexible, relevant and sustainable to respond to the needs of DFO and other federal priorities.  This necessitates a more innovative and adaptive approach to the way science is performed, and to the way collaborative partnerships are established.  It also has implications for the delivery of scientific advice, services and products to clients and stakeholders.  Science Renewal initiatives will contribute to the increased scope and depth of scientific activities, build a national capacity for aquatic science, ensure transparency and credibility of scientific advice, and contribute to scientific innovation and commercialization of technology.

Over the next five years, DFO will renew its Science program to enhance delivery of scientific information, advice and services in support of better policy development and decision-making and improved service to Canadians.  The work on Science Renewal will include two major initiatives:  strategic and operational planning and program re-engineering and realignment. 

  • Long-term strategic and multi-year operational planning will be carried out in collaboration with clients and partners, and will be based on the ongoing risk assessment of priorities needing science support.  Strategic and operational planning will be supported through national enabling strategies, including strategies for human resources, funding, partnering, Science vessels and equipment acquisition and maintenance.
  • Science Renewal will focus on stability for long-term public good monitoring and data management, while maximizing flexibility in the areas of scientific research, advice, services and products to respond to evolving departmental and federal government priorities. Implementation of a renewed program will be supported by the realignment of the Science budget, including strategic investments to better address the highest priorities.

Science Renewal will result in an adaptive organization that is strategic and responsive to the needs of clients, and better aligned with strategic priorities and outcomes.  Science delivery systems will be modernized and human and financial resources will be used more effectively and efficiently.  DFO Science will reflect the expertise, multi-disciplinary skills, and technological advances required to address new and emerging departmental and federal challenges.


Beyond the Priorities: Aboriginal Policy and Governance

Carla Whitebone
Working with First Nations in the Gulf Region, Carla Whitebone has been very active in the implementation of the Marshall Program. Supporting the transfer of licences and providing First Nations with socio-economic information, Carla contributes to DFO's work around Aboriginal Policy & Governance.

Aboriginal policy and governance issues cut across most of DFO's programs and activities.  As the department with the largest on-the-ground federal presence in Aboriginal coastal communities, DFO can assist the Government of Canada in meeting its broader objectives of improving the quality of life for Aboriginal groups, as well as capacity and relationship building.

DFO has developed a suite of programs and approaches to engage Aboriginal groups.  The Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS), which provides a regulatory framework for food, social and ceremonial fisheries, and employment opportunities related to fisheries management, is one of DFO's most important tools for engaging Aboriginal groups.  Through this program, DFO has a relationship with about 225 Aboriginal groups.  In October 2003, the Department introduced the Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management (AAROM) and the Aboriginal Inland Habitat (AIH) programs to support the involvement of Aboriginal groups in integrated watershed or ecosystem planning and management and to build capacity in fisheries management and other areas.  Most recently, the At-Sea Mentoring Initiative and the Fisheries Operations Management Initiative were introduced to assist First Nations that were recipients of Marshall Response in managing their commercial fisheries operations.  Finally, the Department is involved in negotiating and implementing the fisheries component of land claims agreements.

The Department has five-year goals for Aboriginal policy and governance that are focused on strengthening and fostering the relationship between the Department and Aboriginal groups.

  • Enhance the involvement of Aboriginal groups in fisheries management decision-making processes using a model of shared stewardship in which Aboriginal groups collaborate with the Department in decision-making.
  • Have greater involvement of Aboriginal groups in the decision-making processes in other areas of DFO's responsibility including integrated oceans management, species at risk, habitat management, scientific research and aquaculture development.
  • Improve the stability of the west and east coast fisheries by resolving commercial access issues.
  • Continue to manage the fisheries in a manner that is consistent with the constitutional protection provided to Aboriginal and treaty rights by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • Contribute to the broader Government of Canada objective of improving the quality of life of Aboriginal people through greater access to economic opportunities, such as commercial fishing.

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Strategic Objective 2
Support DFO's dedicated, professional workforce by equipping it with the tools it needs.

Human Resources Modernization

People are our most important resource. Through Human Resources modernization, DFO will strive to improve how we manage people.

The Public Service Modernization Act (PSMA), passed in November 2003, aimed to bring about a more collaborative, innovative and self-regulating workplace.  DFO will put in place the required supports to hire, promote, recognize and nurture employees.

In the short term, the key challenge for DFO is to create stability in its workforce while preparing for significant projected departures due to retirement.  Current financial realities and the need to reallocate internally require some restraints.  However, succession planning is required to ensure the right people are in place to continue providing quality service to Canadians.

The Department strongly supports innovative staffing methods that attract the skilled workforce needed to deliver programs and services.  These methods will be developed within the more flexible context provided by the PSMA. 

Good planning and innovative staffing are also essential if DFO is to meet its commitments around official languages and diversity. Having a representative workforce is a legal obligation, as well as a way to ensure DFO provides the best possible service to Canadians. Building on this, the Department needs to follow through on its Employment Equity Action Plan, to increase awareness at all levels and provide access to the tools and training necessary, while continuing to foster an inclusive and representative workforce, including the use of both official languages in the workplace.

David Biggs
David Biggs, a human rights and anti-harassment specialist, is a member of the Labour Relations Directorate in the National Capital Region. In an effort to make DFO an inclusive workplace, David, who has Parkinson's, combines his knowledge with a knack for strategy and problem-solving to seek just and positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

Once employees are on the job, their motivation and ability to take on new tasks depend on solid learning and recognition programs.  Building a workplace of choice involves rewarding outstanding work, offering accessible and relevant learning opportunities and fostering a work environment that is responsive to employee needs.  With its recently approved Learning Strategy, DFO is providing tools, such as the Learning Plan and Coaching Guide that help build the learning environment needed to address retention issues and move in the direction of a learning organization.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will improve the organization and classification of work using model work descriptions that ensure a more consistent, up-to-date understanding of the main duties performed in the workplace.

The Department is also establishing a centre of expertise for labour relations. Its objectives, consistent with the PSMA, are to support the need for a more strategic approach to labour relations, including continued improvement in union management relations, increased awareness of policies and procedures, and greater consistency of advice. The National Labour Relations Symposium is an example of genuine consultations and ongoing work toward more open and constructive relations with unions.

The Department will continue promoting a more collegial work environment, and support Public Service values and ethics, informal conflict resolution and internal disclosure.

The Management Accountability Framework (MAF)

We need to move forward by working according to the elements of the MAF. We will establish a stronger comptrollership function and improve our financial management and associated tools and processes.

It is essential that DFO employees recognize the link between service delivery to Canadians and how to go about delivering those services.  To live within its means, DFO will respond to the Government of Canada's priorities related to sound financial management and the strengthening of public sector management more generally.  

The Management Accountability Framework (MAF), in its simplest form, is a set of 10 statements summarizing Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) expectations for modern public service management. It provides public service managers with a clear list of management expectations within an overall framework for high organizational performance. The statements are around Public Service Values, Governance and Strategic Directions, Policy and Programs, People, Citizen-focused Service, Risk Management, Stewardship, Accountability, Results and Performance, and Learning, Innovation and Change Management.

Jacques Dupras
Jacques Dupras exemplifies excellence in service to Canadians. He has over 35 years in the public service, and plays a key role in providing marine information to Canadian Hydrographic Service clients.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada's management philosophy is guided by these mechanisms which champion values of openness, transparency and accountability.  Work the Department did in the Expenditure Management Review, baseline review, and the DAAP have ensured that DFO has been well-placed to respond to new constraints.  However, DFO must continue to face the challenge of balancing fiscal realities with ongoing priorities and service delivery. Reallocating resources from lower to higher priorities will continue to be a management challenge for the Department.  Regular functional reviews of the regions, the promulgation of new financial plans and ongoing capacity building are all components of this approach.

The Department's response to a revenue shortfall over several years is a good example of work in this direction.  In keeping with the MAF, DFO will develop an integrated, coherent and strategic approach in charging for external services, and conduct a review of external charging.

The new SOA status for the CCG, which will allow greater flexibility to manage operations and focus on service, is also part of DFO's commitment to service and strengthening accountability for results.

Integrated Planning and Reporting

In the past, DFO developed planning and reporting tools in isolation of each other, leading to a fragmented approach to departmental management.  This approach is no longer viable. Integrated planning and reporting is needed to bring together elements of departmental planning processes, including human resource, business, financial and strategic planning information to ensure a consistent and coherent approach that considers all relevant information in making decisions about policies and programs. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has developed a revised planning framework that integrates corporate finance and human resource information, along with strategic priorities, risk management and other important planning inputs.  This framework and approach aim to ensure strategic, business, financial and human resource planning are aligned and mutually reinforcing.  This new integrated planning framework will reflect and shape DFO operations, leading to the preparation of an integrated business plan with chapters for each of the three outcomes.

Integrated Risk Management

Integrated risk management (IRM) is a management practice to enhance performance, by informing decisions rather than directing decision making.  To be of practical value, IRM needs to become an integral part of Departmental planning and review processes.  DFO will implement IRM to support priority setting and decision-making by clearly informing managers about key risks, the likelihood of their occurrence and their impact.

While DFO has managed risk since the Department was first established, the risks being managed or accepted were rarely clearly defined, and managers were not always fully informed of the nature and extent of risks facing the Department at the operational level. The current IRM Implementation Plan builds on this implicit experience and knowledge, and looks for examples of key program risks that are well managed. The tools and strategies which have proven effective will then be shared across the Department in areas where similar risks are found.

The IRM Implementation Plan is directed toward consistent, explicit and co-ordinated risk management becoming a part of all business processes in the Department. This will be achieved when IRM has demonstrated that it is cost effective, straightforward and delivers value to managers on an ongoing basis.

Departmental Renewal

As a result of the work carried out under the DAAP, we are changing the way our department works and have laid a sound foundation for the way ahead.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to the principal DAAP financial goals: living within the Department's means while addressing chronic budgetary shortfalls and financial pressures, identifying a permanent source of funds for contributing to government-wide reallocation and generating financial flexibility to address new priorities.  The Department will ensure the decisions made in the coming years consistently reflect these aims.

The Department will continue to manage its finances, renew policies and programs, and modernize management to assess and implement policy and program changes.  In this way, DFO will realize additional corporate savings and efficiencies and position the Department to continue to support services to Canadians. 

Gary Sooley
With passion and dedication, Gary Sooley guides and assists Harbour Authorities and harbour users to ensure that the Small Craft Harbour facilities in the Eastern and Southern Area of the Newfoundland and Labrador Region are safe and well-managed.

Within this context, DFO will undertake a number of initiatives to ensure that ongoing operations are sustainable.  The Department will develop a strategic management plan for information management and technology, which includes a focus on renewed governance, within DFO and with stakeholders, to ensure program sustainability.  DFO will also develop a business case for information technology infrastructure rationalization that will capitalize on potential to streamline and achieve future and ongoing savings in the management of DFO's information technology infrastructure.

DFO has also been working on possible new directions for the Small Craft Harbours Program.  A new direction is intended to place the Program on a more sustainable basis, while addressing evolving program requirements and client needs. These development efforts will continue to be a priority. Possible program adjustments will be pursued, in collaboration with clients, on an opportunity basis.

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coverOur Waters, Our Future is a practical and comprehensive plan to implement DFO's renewed vision, mission and objectives.  The targets and deliverables chart (Annex 1) provides a link between the departmental priorities and the concrete steps that will be taken to deliver on them over the next five years.  These targets will put the Department on track to achieve the outcomes of Safe and Accessible Waterways, Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems, and Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture.

The departmental planning cycle (Annex 2) has been adjusted to link human resource, business, financial and strategic planning more closely.  The process begins with the setting of annual Departmental Priorities supported by environmental scanning and demographic analysis.  The Departmental Management Committee will review the strategic objectives and priorities on an annual basis, and when necessary, adjust or update them to ensure they continue to reflect current realities, emerging issues and new challenges.  Phase II begins in October with the mid-year review and subsequent Business Planning around each Program Activity Architecture outcome.  This tool elaborates on the priorities outlined in the Strategic Plan.  The third phase, Allocations, includes planning tools such as the Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP), Main and Supplementary Estimates, and budget allocations to sectors and regions.  During the final phase, Operationalization, service level and performance agreements are finalized, and human resource plans are completed. 

Our Waters, Our Future is the core document for DFO's new integrated approach to planning.  In implementing this Strategic Plan, the Department will strive to balance commitments with available resources.  While this Strategic Plan sets out a five year vision, DFO will re-evaluate its priorities annually and adjust them as required to ensure the Department continues to provide quality services to Canadians.

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Annex 1: Targets and Deliverables

Strategic Objective 1: Deliver programs that reflect the priorities of Canadians and are part of a fully integrated policy approach.


One year

Three year

Five year

Oceans Action Plan
  • Ecosystem overviews for at least 3 of 5 priority large ocean management areas (LOMAs)
  • Finalize federal Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) strategy
  • Establish common regulations or standards to address impacts of seismic activities in conjunction with provincial governments and offshore regulators
  • Support commercialization of key Canadian ocean technologies
  • IM Plans are in place for priority LOMAs 
  • Ensure critical protection in place and designate up to five DFO MPAs
  • Promote Canadian ocean technologies
  • Establish regulations or standards for other marine activities as appropriate
  • Designate up to four more DFO MPAs
International Governance
  • Maintain Canada's enhanced presence at sea
  • Establish an independent advisory panel to provide advice to the Government of Canada
  • Host an international conference on implementation of the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFA)
  • Commence seabed mapping of the continental shelf beyond the 200-mile limit
  • Support implementation of UNFA
  • Explore ecosystem-based management objectives for areas that straddle national and high seas jurisdictions
  • Examine opportunities to strengthen the role of coastal states in resource management in waters adjacent to their areas of national jurisdiction
  • Initiate data collection to establish basis for extended continental shelf claim
  • Priority seabed areas defined and mapped
Fisheries Renewal
  • Recommend approach to sharing arrangements in Atlantic
  • Implement Atlantic Fisheries Policy Framework
  • Complete Wild Salmon Policy
  • Conduct Conservation, Stewardship and Compliance Review
  • Develop Precautionary Approach framework
  • Develop legislative proposals to amend the Fisheries Act in support of Fisheries Renewal
  • Meet the resource management requirements of the Species at Risk Act
  • Complete and implement findings of the Compliance review and modernization
  • Propose revisions to Fisheries Act
  • Implement revised Fisheries Act, if adopted by Parliament
Aquaculture Governance
  • Regulatory process improvements
  • Seek authority to negotiate a Framework Agreement on Aquaculture (FAA) and engage in stronger collaboration with federal, provincial and territorial partners
  • Engage Canadians to better reflect their values and concerns with respect to aquaculture
  • Evaluate progress on regulatory process improvement
  • Develop and finalize FAA with provinces and territories
  • Negotiate bilateral implementation agreements and implement FAA with provinces and territories
Coast Guard Rejuvenation
  • Draft operational framework to support implementation of SOA model
  • Move forward with fleet renewal strategy  
  • Engage clients and stakeholders to ensure efficient delivery of critical services
  • Implement IM Strategy and strengthen the alignment of IM and IT responsibilities among internal CCG organizations
  • Develop CCG Corporate Risk Profile and establish the Risk Management Functions   
  • Develop investment and improvement strategies to support infrastructure and capacity requirements
  • Ongoing implementation of fleet renewal plan
  • Practice Integrated Risk Management - Application and incorporation into ongoing Business Planning process
  • Full integration of IM/IT investment policies and governance mechanisms aligned with DFO and CCG strategic business plans
  • Ensuring continuous Risk Management learning
Environmental Process Modernization
  • Consult on, develop and implement first components of the EPMP (e.g. low risk activities)
  • Elaborate EPMP components
  • Continue implementation (e.g., medium/higher-risk activities) and monitoring
  • Evaluate and report on results and refinement of EPMP
Science Renewal
  • Develop a multi-year strategic and operational planning framework
  • Assess options for program re-engineering and realignment
  • Complete implementation of the multi-year strategic and operational planning framework
  • Enhanced integration of science in support of policy development
Aboriginal Policy and Governance
  • Engage west coast First Nations, the Province of BC, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and other stakeholders to discuss increasing commercial fisheries access for First Nations in BC
  • Continue to work with First Nations to develop capacity in fishing through At-sea Mentoring initiative and in management of fishing enterprises
  • Contribute to the negotiation and implementation of land claims settlements in the Arctic
  • Develop strategy to wrap up the Marshall Response Initiative by fulfilling existing agreements by the end of 2006
  • Implement co-management regimes resulting from Arctic land claims settlements


Strategic Objective 2:

Support DFO's dedicated, professional workforce by equipping it with the tools it needs.


One year

Three year

Five year

Human Resources Modernization
  • Implement Staffing Management Accountability Framework - Pilot  new staffing tools
  • Implement Learning and Coaching guide
  • Implement and integrate targeted HR planning
  • Undertake self-identification survey to support representative workforce in DFO
  • Conduct review and evaluation of departmental staffing framework
Management Accountability Framework
  • Develop tools and training
  • Establish regular functional reviews
  • Ensure ongoing capacity building
Integrated Planning and Reporting
  • Implement realigned planning cycle
  • Review performance on  planning cycle


Integrated Risk Management
  • Implement Integrated Risk Management Policy
  • Update IRM Corporate Risk Profile
  • Implement IRM guidelines


Departmental Renewal
  • Monitor progress on renewal initiatives
  • Complete work on business cases for other initiatives identified in the DAAP report
  • Continue to assess and implement policy and program changes

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Annex 2: The Planning Cycle

(Click on image to enlarge)
The Planning Cycle - Click on image to enlarge