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Aboriginal Aquatic Resource And Oceans Management (AAROM) Program

The AAROM program supports Indigenous groups as they develop, grow and maintain aquatic resource and oceans management departments that can provide fisheries, habitat, science, and oceans related services along a watershed and/or support participation in advisory and co-management processes and decision-making tied to aquatic resources and oceans management.

AAROM was launched in 2004 in response to a 2002 review of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS). Through dialogue with Indigenous groups, it was found that some Indigenous groups were creatively pooling funding from the AFS program with their own resources (and, in some cases, other funding sources) to collaborate in habitat, science, and oceans activities along an ecosystem or watershed.

AAROM seeks to directly support such collaboration and increase scientific, technical and advisory capacity within Indigenous aggregate organizations to help facilitate the move towards greater co-management of aquatic resources and the ocean environment.

AAROM is unique among federal Indigenous programs in that it provides core and relatively secure funding for non-treaty based science and technical activities.

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The main objectives of the program are to:

  • Assist Indigenous groups in acquiring the administrative capacity and scientific/technical expertise to facilitate their participation in aquatic resource and oceans management
  • Encourage the establishment of collaborative management structures that contribute to integrated ecosystem/watershed management and planning processes
  • Enhance existing collaborative management structures, where appropriate
  • Facilitate sound decision making in advisory and other processes related to several areas of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) responsibility
  • Strengthen relationships through improved information sharing among Indigenous communities, the department and other stakeholders
  • Contribute to the federal government's broader objective of improving the quality of life of Indigenous peoples

AAROM Renewal

In May 2018, the Indigenous Program Review (IPR) Panel released its Phase One Report ( PDF 1.76 MB).This included practical recommendations for improving the AAROM program and its administration, along with broader guidance on areas for advancing collaboration between AAROM organizations and DFO (i.e., from science activities in the field to how Indigenous knowledge can inform decision-making), including steps to increase DFO's ability to utilize and further support the technical expertise and capacity of AAROM organizations.


On September 6, 2019, DFO released the Action Plan for the Renewal and Expansion of DFO’s Indigenous Programs that outlines the actions underway or planned to renew DFO’s Indigenous programs, including the AAROM program. It builds on commitments made in Budget 2017 and responds to the phase one review recommendations. The action plan is multi-year, with annual planned updates on progress. The content will continue to grow and evolve (be “evergreen”), informed by ongoing co-development, co-design and co-delivery with Indigenous partners.

Recently, our Indigenous programs have reached key milestones for the ongoing renewal of the AAROM program, which includes:

  • the completion of a new entrants’ expression of interest process to cover major gaps in the AAROM network
  • the co-development, co-design and co-delivery of three National AAROM Meetings of AAROM department Directors and DFO AAROM program managers
  • providing $2M in funding enhancements to 100% of watershed and technical/advisory AAROM departments to ensure more equitable funding for core staffing and operations (e.g., closing historical gaps between AAROM departments)
  • launching the new AAROM Innovation and Collaboration Fund for eligible AAROM departments to support long-term and ongoing capacity development across the AAROM network
  • supporting the launch of a new AAROM Hub website in partnership with the Mi’gmaq Maliseet Aboriginal Fisheries Management Association

We will continue to advance recommendations and actions, informed by ongoing co-development, co-design and co-delivery with Indigenous partners, to ensure the AAROM program continues to support Indigenous participants as they develop, grow and maintain aquatic resource and oceans management departments.

AAROM network

The network includes 33 AAROM departments:

  • 15 in British Columbia
  • 12 in Atlantic Canada/Quebec
  • 3 in the Northwest Territories
  • 1 in the Yukon
  • 2 national organizations

The AAROM departments are working to help build and support aquatic resource and scientific capacity in their member Indigenous communities. We are committed to working with AAROM departments to promote their services and expertise and help foster collaboration and share best practices across the AAROM network.

To learn more about the AAROM departments and the AAROM Network visit the new AAROM Hub website, hosted by the Mi’gmaq Maliseet Aboriginal Fisheries Management Association. The site showcases the unique scientific, technical and advisory skills and expertise of each AAROM department on their individual profile pages. Check back regularly as the site will continue to grow and evolve.

AAROM departments

The term “AAROM departments” was developed as a short hand to describe the independent Indigenous organizations that receive AAROM program funding across Canada.

The Indigenous Program Review identified three different types of AAROM departments across the network, which are classified based on the various types of activities undertaken by their organization. It is worth noting that the activities of some AAROM departments may overlap more than one category.

Type of AAROM department Description

Technical collective groups with biologists, field technicians and other expertise who regularly engage in stock assessments, research projects, and other studies to gain specific data and knowledge for their member communities. Many also run youth education and outreach programs to help build capacity in their member communities to pursue careers in environmental science and management.


Targeted capacity to coordinate technical work conducted by community members and/or facilitate the exchange of fisheries and resource management information through specific Tier 1 and Tier 2 forums* (DFO's Pacific region only and in some cases some crossover with watershed activities).


Provide large-scale coordination and technical function at a national and/or regional level to enable broad achievements and promote the exchange of information and best practices between AAROM departments.

Annual National AAROM Meeting

An action-oriented national meeting brings together Directors of AAROM departments with Fisheries and Oceans Canada Program Managers, to build partnerships and discuss shared opportunities and strategies to continue to build capacity within their organizations.

To date, three annual National AAROM Meetings have taken place:

  • Inaugural meeting, hosted by the Okanagan Nation Alliance, February 4-6, 2019, in Kelowna, British Columbia
  • Second annual meeting, hosted by the Mi'kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island, November 19- 21, 2019, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
  • A Virtual Meeting Series occurred in January–February 2021 in place of an annual in-person National AAROM Meeting. This meeting did not take place in person due to Covid pandemic protocols implemented in 2020.
  • The next National AAROM Meeting, hosted by the Akaitcho Territory Government is tentatively scheduled to take place in Dettah, Northwest Territories in the Fall 2022.

To learn more about the annual National AAROM Meeting and the AAROM Network, visit the new AAROM Hub website, hosted by the Mi’gmaq Maliseet Aboriginal Fisheries Management Association.

Contact us

Contact your regional AAROM program office for more information or support.


AAROM hub showcases Indigenous expertise

AAROM hub profiles independent Indigenous organizations, participants in the Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program

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