Governance and Diplomacy


The effective management of fish stocks and their ecosystems is key to ensuring the sustainability of marine resources, both in Canadian waters and on the high seas.

International fisheries and oceans governance incorporates legal, social, economic and social dimensions. To be effective, governance must be flexible enough to address key differences in these areas between fishing nations while providing enforceable rules. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international legal instruments and agreements provide a solid framework for fisheries governance.

Two key concepts in modern international fisheries and oceans governance is the precautionary approach and ecosystem-based fisheries management.

The precautionary approach calls for the use of precaution in any decisions about species where scientific information is minimal or there is substantial risk of serious harm to a species or its ecosystem.

Ecosystem-based management considers the effects of all human activities and environmental factors on oceans ecosystems when making decisions. It recognizes that fisheries management decisions must take into consideration not just a single fish species, but also the other organisms that have relationships with the species and its physical habitat. Decisions about the management of a species and its ecosystem are based on the best scientific information available.


Building strong partnerships worldwide with other governments, international and non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders on fisheries and oceans issues enables Canada to work with like-minded countries and organizations to combat overfishing and improve global management of fish stocks and oceans ecosystems.

Through diplomatic relations, Canada has entered into both formal and informal arrangements and agreements on fisheries, oceans and science issues with a number of nations. For example, Canada has signed memoranda of understanding on fisheries cooperation with a number of countries.

At the ministerial level, Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans meets fisheries ministers and senior officials in other countries to discuss common concerns and opportunities for cooperation. Canada also has an Ambassador for Fisheries Conservation who represents the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Fisheries and Oceans. In addition, the fisheries ambassador meets relevant national and international stakeholders on matters relating to overfishing and fish stock management.

At the departmental level, officials of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) work closely with fisheries, oceans, and foreign affairs officials from other nations on a range of international issues, including policy development, scientific research and communications.

DFO and DFAIT also work with staff at Canada's embassies and consulates in fishing nations to ensure they have appropriate information about Canada‘s position on international fishing issues and to coordinate meetings between the countries. (See our information available in other languages).

Other diplomatic and advocacy efforts with foreign nations include building stronger relationships with organizations representing industry, environmental groups, media and consumers.

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