Three oceans, one country. Canada is blessed with the world’s longest coastline. But that also means a lot of ocean to manage responsibly. How much? About 7.1 million square kilometres.
Federal, provincial and territorial governments play a role in managing our oceans. Aboriginal peoples in Canada also have a number of treaty and non-treaty rights related to ocean and coastal activities.
The roles and responsibilities of each, referred to as “jurisdictional authorities" in legal terms, are defined in domestic law, international law, customary law, historic usage, and other domestic and international legal arrangements.
For more information on federal, provincial and territorial roles, and Aboriginal rights, go to: Roles.
For more information on legislation and strategies that have guided oceans management in Canada over the past 10 years, go to: Key Legislation and Strategies.
Twenty-seven federal departments and agencies are responsible for managing marine-related activities. This management involves 25 principal pieces of federal legislation and an additional 35 pieces of related federal legislation.
Eight of Canada’s ten provinces and all three territories have some authority for managing Canada’s oceans and coasts. They are also responsible for a number of activities that directly or indirectly contribute to sustainable development of these marine areas.
Aboriginal peoples in Canada have a number of treaty and non-treaty rights related to ocean and coastal activities. The Government of Canada respects these rights and seeks to involve concerned Aboriginal groups in oceans management activities. One such way is through the Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management (AAROM) Program. Among other things, this program provides funding to qualifying groups to enhance their participation in various decision-making and advisory processes that contribute to integrated ocean/watershed management and planning.
1997 — Canada’s Oceans Act
2002 — Canada’s Oceans Strategy
2005 — Canada’s Oceans Action Plan
2007 — Health of the Oceans Initiatives
2009 — Our oceans, our future: Federal programs and activities
In 1997, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt comprehensive legislation for oceans management. By passing its Oceans Act, Canada made a legal commitment to conserve, protect and develop the oceans in a sustainable manner.
Highlights of the Act
Canada’s Oceans Act:
In 2002, Canada released its Oceans Strategy outlining the government’s vision and direction for modern oceans governance. The overarching goal of the strategy is ensuring healthy, safe and prosperous oceans for the benefit of current and future generations of Canadians.
As called upon by Canada’s Oceans Act, development and implementation
of the Oceans Strategy — built on several years of operational
experience — are led by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Main objectives of Canada’s Oceans Strategy
Canada’s Oceans Strategy commits the Government of Canada to fundamentally change the way we use and manage our oceans. How? It accomplishes this by:
In May 2005, Canada announced its Oceans Action Plan. This plan enabled government-wide action to develop Canada’s ocean resources for the benefit of coastal communities, while protecting fragile marine ecosystems.
A key priority in Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s strategic plan, the Oceans Action Plan acts as a framework for an integrated federal oceans agenda. The plan includes 18 initiatives across six federal departments.
In 2007, building on the successes of its Oceans Action Plan, Canada announced five-year funding to improve the health of the oceans as part of its new National Water Strategy.
These funds will advance several distinct initiatives to be conducted by five federal departments and agencies that will work closely with others to protect fragile marine environments, counter pollution and strengthen preventive measures.
To learn more, go to: Health of the Oceans Initiatives
Published in June 2009, this brochure summarizes the range of programs and activities being carried out by federal departments and agencies, all working collaboratively to advance the conservation and sustainable development of our oceans resources.