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Economic Impact of Marine Related Activities in Canada


1. Rationale

Activities dependent on the ocean make a substantial contribution to the Canadian economy. Fisheries and naval installations provided the rationale for the first European settlement. Fish processing, shipbuilding and marine transportation followed, providing the basis for economic development and growth on all three of Canada's coasts. These ocean activities defined settlement patterns that continue to this day.

New activities emerged over the years including tourism, aquaculture, bio-technologies, specialized manufacturing and oil and gas exploration and development. A wide range of service industries supports these activities. Together, they create substantial opportunities as well as challenges for more traditional uses.

A specialized public administration has evolved to provide stewardship leading to sustainable use. Objectives and guidance are embedded in the 1997 Oceans Act, with a full vision spelled out in 2002 in Canada's Ocean Strategy.

This study finds its rationale against this backdrop of on-going change in ocean activities and management, and the need to ensure decision-makers understand clearly the nature and economic significance of these activities. Specifically, the study is aimed at gaining greater insight into the full range of ocean activities and their contribution to the Canadian economy.

To this end, this report provides output values for marine-related activities covering the period 2002-2006, with estimates of the economic impacts for 2006. The last study of this kind was completed in 2003, covering the years 1998-2000.1

2. Purpose and objectives

This report aims to provide decision-makers, planners, industry and the general public with a measure of the relative economic importance of the oceans surrounding Canada on three sides. To this end, the main objective is to estimate the economic value of marine-related activities in Canada, and within its defined ocean regions: Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic. Within this broad objective are two more specific objectives:

  • Describe and quantify existing marine-related commercial and public sector activities in terms of their economic impacts on national and regional economies.
  • Estimate the value of emerging activities for which data are incomplete or unavailable.

3. Contents

Following this Introduction, Chapter II sets out the methodology used to generate the economic impacts. Methodology includes a section identifying and defining the specific activities comprising the marine economy, and explains the distinction between primary and secondary activities. Data requirements and sources are identified, and any limitations specified. The methodology goes on to explain the approach used to measure the economic value of the specified marine activities, including the meaning of specific indicators and how direct, indirect and induced impacts are defined.

Chapter III sets out the national economic analysis of primary and secondary private sector activities. Each activity is described in qualitative and quantitative terms using industry-specific economic indicators as well as output value. Any data issues are identified. Economic impacts – estimated using the Statistics Canada Inter-provincial Input-Output Model – are set out for each activity using conventional indicators: GDP, employment and labour income. Also included in Chapter III is a section dealing with so-called secondary activities.

Chapter IV sets out the national economic analysis of public sector activities. This includes federal and provincial government departments and agencies, as well as universities and ENGOs.

Chapter V contains the roll-up of impacts at the national level as well as impacts for the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic regions (a map delineating the ocean impact regions is set out in Figure 1.1). Though the study concerns marine activities, the economic impacts tend to occur on land. For this reason and because of the need to conform to established statistical units, the impact regions coincide with provincial and territorial boundaries.2

  • The Atlantic region includes the four Atlantic Provinces and Québec. Following the Terms of Reference, marine spending by National Defence and Fisheries and Oceans headquartered in Ottawa is also included in the Atlantic region.
  • The Pacific region consists of British Columbia.
  • The Arctic comprises Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavik.

The national impacts are a summation of the results of Chapters III and IV, and are built up from regional impacts. The regional impacts are a summation of bottom-up impacts built from the aggregation of impacts at the provincial level.

Chapter VI sets out concluding observations, examining growth potential for each activity, emerging issues and methodological challenges encountered in producing the report.

Several activity-specific appendices contain details of the derivation of output value used to run the input-output model, where these data are not available from published sources.

Figure 1.1: Map of Canada showing ocean impact regions as defined for this study A map delineating the ocean impact regions. Three regions are displayed. The Atlantic region includes the four Atlantic Provinces and Québec. The Pacific region consists of British Columbia and the Arctic comprises Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavik.

1 RASCL, Canada's Ocean Industries: Contribution to the Economy, 1988-2000, prepared for DFO, September 2003.
2 The reader should note that by defining the regions in this fashion, a small amount of marine activity occurring in Hudson Bay (mainly seasonal shipping through the Port of Churchill, Manitoba) is excluded from the impacts.

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