About Small Craft Harbours

Small Craft Harbours (SCH) is a nationwide program of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. With the help of more than 5000 volunteers nationally, SCH operates and maintains a national system of harbours to provide commercial fish harvesters and other harbour users with safe and accessible facilities. The mandate of SCH is to keep the harbours that are critical to the fishing industry open and in good repair.

Boats at harbour

The fishing industry is an important part of the Canadian culture and economy and small craft harbours are crucial to the fishing industry. SCH is currently responsible for 1014 harbours, including 883 fishing harbours and 131 recreational harbours. Together, these harbours include almost 6000 structures valued at approximately $2.1B. Nearly 90% of all fishing landings in Canada, valued at approximately $1.6B, occur at small craft harbours. In addition, these harbours are often the only federal presence in small coastal communities. They provide the most direct and visible link between the communities and the Canadian government. For these reasons and many more, the SCH program delivers important benefits to the Canadian population.

SCH is a decentralized program. While the headquarters in Ottawa provide national coordination, five regional offices manage the program operation.

Our Strategy

SCH uses three main strategies to fulfill its mandate:

  • Maintain a network of core harbours (those that are essential to the fishing industry).
  • Promote the formation of Harbour Authorities to ensure local control over commercial fishing harbours.
  • Transfer the ownership of non-essential harbours and recreational harbours to local communities through divestiture.