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Fisheries and Oceans Canada's Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy

In 2013-14 Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) continued its commitment to the implementation of Canada’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2013-2016, which was tabled in Parliament in November 2013 by the Minister of the Environment. The Federal Sustainable Development Strategy outlines the Government of Canada's commitment to improving the transparency of environmental decision-making by articulating its key strategic environmental goals and targets. It strengthens the way in which the Government of Canada promotes environmental sustainability, and it makes important improvements to the transparency and accountability of environmental decision-making. The 2013-16 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy will be presented as part of year-end performance reporting for 2013-14.

In accordance with Section 11 of the Federal Sustainable Development Act (2008), DFO has prepared a Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy containing objectives and plans for the Department that complies with and contributes to the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, appropriate to DFO’s mandate. The departmental strategy is shared with Canadians through this website and through the information provided in DFO’s Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports that are tabled in Canada’s Parliament annually.

Consult the Department’s Report on Plans and Priorities 2013-2014 for associated information on DFO’s Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy.

Departmental Vision

To advance sustainable aquatic ecosystems and support safe and secure Canadian waters while fostering economic prosperity across maritime sectors and fisheries.

Departmental Decision Making and Sustainable Development

Managing Sustainable Development

According to the Federal Sustainable Development Act “The Government of Canada accepts the basic principle that sustainable development is based on an ecologically efficient use of natural, social and economic resources and acknowledges the need to integrate environmental, economic and social factors in the making of all decisions by government.” The Federal Sustainable Development Strategy builds on this foundation by emphasizing accountability and transparency on managing sustainable development at the federal level through an integrated approach, establishing clear links to expenditure management, and putting the mechanisms and processes in place to monitor, track and report on departmental and government-wide progress.

Sustainable development is the lens through which DFO undertakes its business and plays an important role in decision-making on policy, plans and programs. The Department's core work is guided by five key pieces of legislation:

  • The Fisheries Act provides, among other things, broad powers to the Minister for the proper management and control of commercial, aboriginal, and recreational fisheries, and aquaculture operations, which are also fisheries. Further to various long-standing arrangements, the provinces have assumed administrative responsibility for the management of most inland fisheries;
  • The Oceans Act, among other things, provides authority to the Minister to lead the development and implementation of plans for the integrated management of activities affecting estuaries, coastal and marine waters, and the coordination of oceans issues. The Act also establishes the Minister’s responsibility for Coast Guard services, as well as responsibility for marine science services such as the Canadian Hydrographic Services’ nautical charts and publications;
  • While the Minister of Environment has primary responsibility for the administration of the Species at Risk Act, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is the competent minister for aquatic species;
  • The Coastal Fisheries Protection Act regulates access by foreign fishing vessels to Canadian ports and Canadian fisheries waters. Among other things, the Act gives the Minister the power to issue licences authorizing foreign fishing vessels to enter Canadian fisheries waters to engage in specified fisheries-related activities;
  • The Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (Transport Canada-led) sets out, among other things, as a part of the Minister’s mandate for the Coast Guard, the responsibility for search and rescue and lighthouses (including lights, signal buoys, and beacons).

Key challenges in managing Canada's oceans and freshwater include oceans health, loss of marine habitat, declining biodiversity, growing demands for access to ocean resources, and regulatory and jurisdictional complexities. Precautionary and ecosystem approaches support resource sustainability and economic prosperity for commercial, Aboriginal, and recreational fish harvesters and communities with the common goal of a sustainable, economically viable, internationally competitive industry. DFO continues to work with others to develop recovery strategies, make adjustments to fisheries facing serious challenges, and develop a conservation ethic that values long-term objectives for the resource over short-to-medium-term social or economic goals.

DFO uses integrated processes, a multi-skilled workforce and broad stakeholder engagement to inform decisions. Internally, senior-level decision-making is supported by a departmental governance structure that integrates consideration of environmental science, economic analysis, and policy, program and regional expertise. It is also informed by the results of departmental initiatives that seek the collaboration and input of external stakeholders (e.g., other federal departments and agencies, provincial and territorial governments, international governments and organizations, universities, industry sectors and potentially implicated aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities across Canada.)

To support accountability and transparency, consideration of Canada’s environmental goals and targets under the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy is being integrated into DFO’s business planning processes, in reports to Canadians and in tools to support decision-making, such as strategic environmental assessments.

Strategic Environmental Assessment Planned Highlights and Commitments

DFO commits to making environmental decision-making more transparent and to ensuring that the Government's environmental goals are taken into account when pursuing social and economic goals.

Over the course of fiscal year 2013-2014, the Department will monitor implementation of the 2010 Guidelines for Implementing the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals and will continue to work with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in collaboration with other federal departments to strengthen the application of strategic environmental assessment and improve reporting on summary information regarding the results of strategic environmental assessments.


DFO’s Implementation Strategies to support Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Theme I (Addressing Climate Change and Air Quality)

The 2013-2016 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy continues to guide the Government of Canada’s sustainable development activities. The Department contributes to the implementation strategy for enabling capacity in Target 1.2: Climate Change Adaptation. For more detailed information on this implementation strategy, please consult the Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy: 2013–2014.


DFO’s Implementation Strategies to support Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Theme III (Protecting Nature)

TThe 2013-2016 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy continues to guide the Government of Canada’s sustainable development activities. The Department contributes implementation strategies spread across five of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2013-2016 targets related to species at risk, marine ecosystems, alien invasive species, sustainable fisheries and sustainable aquaculture. For more detailed information on these implementation strategies, please consult the Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy: 2013–2014.


DFO’s Contribution to Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Theme IV (Shrinking the Environmental Footprint--Beginning With Government)

The Department is committed to meeting the 11 government-wide targets related to Greening Government Operations as outlined in 2013-2016 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Annex 4 on Environment Canada’s website. For department-specific details concerning these commitments, please consult the Supplementary Table Greening Government Operations on the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat website.