Canada's Oceans Strategy

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Canada's Oceans Strategy is the Government of Canada's policy statement for the management of estuarine coastal and marine ecosystems. National in scope, Canada's Oceans Strategysets out the policy direction for ocean management in Canada.

The Oceans Act provides a framework for modern ocean management. The Act calls for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to lead and facilitate the development of a national ocean management strategy.Canada's Oceans Strategy responds to this requirement, providing for an integrated approach to ocean management, coordination of policies and programs across governments, and an ecosystem approach.

Canada's Oceans Strategy defines the vision, principles and policy objectives for the future management of Canada's estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems. Specifically, the Strategy supports policy and programs aimed at: Understanding and Protecting the Marine EnvironmentSupporting Sustainable Economic Opportunities; and providing International Leadership.

Canada's Oceans Strategy in general, and oceans governance in particular, is much more than a federal government responsibility. It is a collective responsibility shared by all.

Accordingly, oceans governance under the Strategy has core commitments to:

  • work collaboratively within the federal government, and among levels of government;
  • share responsibility for achieving common objectives; and
  • engage Canadians in oceans-related decisions in which they have a stake.

Under this Strategy, oceans governance will advance in three specific areas. First, the federal government will develop, support and promote activities to establish institutional governance mechanisms to enhance coordinated, collaborative oceans management across the federal government and with other levels of government. The Strategy proposes to use new and existing mechanisms such as committees, management boards and information sharing to promote coordination in ocean management.

Second, the Strategy seeks to implement a program of Integrated Management planning to engage partners in the planning and managing of ocean activities. As the cornerstone of the governance approach, Integrated Management establishes decision-making structures that consider both the conservation and protection of ecosystems, while at the same time providing opportunities for creating wealth in oceans-related economies and communities. It brings together the environmental, economic and social considerations by planning for sustainable use of the oceans in a safe and secure environment. In addition, integrated management provides the opportunity to bring together the citizens who want to be engaged in decisions that affect them.

Finally, the Strategy responds to the desire of Canadians to become engaged in ocean management activities by promoting stewardship and public awareness. Oceans stewardship means acting responsibly to conserve the oceans and their resources for present and future generations. Through stewardship initiatives, Canadians can actively participate in caring for our ocean resources in meaningful and positive ways.

Implementing Canada's Oceans Strategy will require actions under each of the policy objectives, as well as specific initiatives to promote oceans governance. Implementation will also involve new ways of looking at our ocean resources, and new ways of doing business. It requires the on-going commitment and participation of all levels of government - federal, provincial, territorial, municipal - as well as Aboriginal organizations and communities, businesses, academia, non-governmental organizations and Canadians generally.

Canada's Oceans Strategy is based on knowledge from a growing body of ocean management experiences both nationally and internationally. The national Strategy will continue to evolve over time. Its further development and implementation will involve active collaboration with partners, and the development of a results-based management and accountability framework to measure progress, relevance and effectiveness.

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