Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management program overview and objectives
The Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management (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. The current AAROM network includes 35 AAROM departments: 18 in British Columbia, 11 in Atlantic Canada/southern Quebec, 5 in northern parts of Canada (Northwest Territories and northern Quebec) and 1 national organization.
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 sought 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 Government of Canada Indigenous programs in that it provides core and relatively secure funding for non-treaty based science and technical activities.
Other issues identified in the AFS review that influenced the design of AAROM include:
- Aboriginal groups are seeking greater participation in decision-making processes used for aquatic resource and oceans management;
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada's expanding responsibilities require engaging with Indigenous peoples on a broad range of issues, including oceans management, habitat management and planning, environmental assessment and species at risk; and
- Existing Aboriginal programming is focused on fisheries management, limiting the Department's ability to respond effectively to the evolving aspirations of Aboriginal people.
The main objectives of the AAROM 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 a number of areas of DFO responsibility;
- Strengthen relationships through improved information sharing among Indigenous communities, DFO and other stakeholders and,
- Contribute to the federal government's broader objective of improving the quality of life of Indigenous peoples.
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