Mandate and role
Canada has an abundance of freshwater and marine and coastal areas that are ecologically diverse and economically significant. Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard manage Canada’s fisheries and safeguard its waters by:
- sustainably managing fisheries and aquaculture
- working with fishers, coastal and Indigenous communities to enable their continued prosperity from fish and seafood
- ensuring that Canada’s oceans and other aquatic ecosystems are protected from negative impacts
- ensuring commercial vessels and recreational boaters can safely navigate our waters
- being there to save lives and protect our environment when emergencies arise
Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard work in over 400 locations across Canada on 4 core responsibilities.
We protect and manage Canada’s fisheries, including aquaculture, and support Indigenous participation in fisheries. We also ensure our national network of harbours is open and in good repair.
We protect our oceans, freshwater and aquatic ecosystems and species from the negative impact of humans and invasive species. We achieve this through sound science and in collaboration with Indigenous communities.
We maintain waterways year-round so they are safely navigable by mariners and all Canadians.
Marine operations and response
Our Coast Guard fleet, in collaboration with Indigenous communities, responds to maritime incidents, such as search-and-rescue and environmental emergencies.
We use science-based decision-making, engage with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and rely on the Canadian Coast Guard fleet as a platform for our on-water activities.
For a detailed inventory of programs and services that support these core responsibilities, see our Departmental Results Framework and Program Inventory.
Departmental priorities and mandate commitments
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for meeting Government of Canada priorities and our departmental mandate commitments, which are outlined in our Minister’s Mandate Letter. These priorities include protecting Canada’s 3 oceans and waterways, ensuring they remain healthy for future generations and providing economic opportunities to Canadians and coastal communities.
In particular, our department will support the Minister to:
- work to support sustainable, stable, prosperous fisheries through the continued implementation of the modernized Fisheries Act, which restores lost protections, rebuilds fish populations and incorporates modern safeguards
- continue the development of a comprehensive Blue Economy Strategy with the support of other departments and in consultation with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples and business stakeholders
- work in close collaboration with stakeholders to implement the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative and to make new investments and develop a conservation strategy to restore and rebuild wild Atlantic salmon populations and their habitats
- continue to work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and partners to ensure we meet our goals to conserve 25 per cent of Canada’s lands and waters by 2025, and 30 per cent of each by 2030
- continue to protect and restore Canada’s oceans and coasts by:
- renewing and expanding the Coastal Restoration Fund to restore aquatic habitats;
- expanding the Ghost Gear Program to continue efforts by fishers and others to clean up lost and abandoned fishing gear and ocean plastics;
- supporting community shoreline and oceans plastic cleanup efforts; and
- continuing to implement commitments made under the Oceans Protection Plan, and support the Minister of Transport in launching the next phase of the plan
- work with Indigenous partners to better integrate Indigenous knowledge into planning and policy decisions
- advance consistent, sustainable and collaborative fisheries arrangements with Indigenous and non-Indigenous fish harvesters
- make new investments in coastal and ocean areas that have a high potential to absorb and store carbon, like tidal wetlands, seagrass meadows and riparian habitats
- modernize the Oceans Act to explicitly consider climate change impacts on marine ecosystems and species in regional ocean management and create a national, interdisciplinary working group focused on climate-resilient ocean conservation planning
- expand climate vulnerability work to better inform marine conservation planning and management
- continue working with the province of British Columbia and Indigenous communities on a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters by 2025 and work to introduce Canada’s first-ever Aquaculture Act
- continue working with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, with the support of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, to renew the Canadian Coast Guard fleet, advance the shipbuilding industry, including the process to add a third Canadian shipyard as a strategic partner to the National Shipbuilding Strategy
- continue to support improvement in Small Craft Harbours and work to ensure our investments in harbours are resulting in climate-resilient infrastructure that serves the needs of the fishing industry and local residents
- work with the Minister of Public Safety, the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Health, among other colleagues, to ensure the Government of Canada continues to be prepared to proactively mitigate, and respond to, emerging incidents and hazards
Our department’s work is supported by the following key pieces of legislation:
- Oceans Act, which:
- authorizes the Minister to plan activities affecting estuaries and coastal and marine waters
- establishes the Minister’s responsibility for coast guard services and marine science services, such as the Canadian Hydrographic Service’s nautical charts and publications
- Fisheries Act, which provides broad powers to the Minister for the proper management and control of commercial, Aboriginal and recreational fisheries, as well as aquaculture operations
- Species at Risk Act, which allows us to protect and promote recovery of aquatic species at risk
- Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, which regulates access by foreign fishing vessels to Canadian ports and Canadian fisheries waters. 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
- Canada Shipping Act, 2001 which is led by Transport Canada and sets out the Canadian Coast Guard’s responsibility for search and rescue and lighthouses, including lights, signal buoys and beacons
- Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act which provides authority to the Minister over the use, management and maintenance of harbours listed in Schedule I of the act, including the power to undertake projects and to lease scheduled harbours to any person
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