Policy and Operational Framework for Integrated Management of Estuarine, Coastal and Marine Environments in Canada

Table of Contents

Appendix 1: The Oceans Act: Legislative Framework for Integrated Management

The Act defines Canada’s maritime zones as the internal waters, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. Within the internal marine waters and the territorial sea, all the laws of Canada apply. Within the exclusive economic zone, Canada has sovereign rights for the purposes of exploring and exploiting, and conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living. This applies to the waters, the seabed and subsoil. In that zone, Canada also has jurisdiction over marine scientific research and the protection and preservation of the marine environment. On the continental shelf, Canada has the right to explore and exploit the non-living resources of the sea-bed and sub-soil, and to exploit living resources that are sedentary.

Section 30 provides the foundation for a national Oceans Strategy to be “based on the principles of:

  • "sustainable development, that is, development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs";
  • "the Integrated Management of activities in estuaries, coastal waters and marine waters that form part of Canada or in which Canada has sovereign rights under international law"; and
  • "the precautionary approach, that is, erring on the side of caution."

Section 31 provides that:

"the Minister [of Fisheries and Oceans] “in collaboration with other ministers, boards and agencies of the Government of Canada, with provincial and territorial governments and with affected aboriginal organizations, coastal communities and other persons and bodies, including those bodies established under land claims agreements shall lead and facilitate the development and implementation of plans for the Integrated Management of all activities or measures in or affecting estuaries, coastal waters and marine waters that form part of Canada or in which Canada has sovereign rights under international law."

Section 32, for the purposes of implementing Integrated Management plans, directs or empowers the Minister to:

  • "develop and implement policies and programs with respect to matters assigned by law to the Minister";
  • "coordinate . . .the implementation of policies and programs of the Government with respect to all activities or measures in or affecting coastal waters and marine waters";
  • "unilaterally. . .or jointly with another person or body or with another minter, board or agency of the Government of Canada and taking into consideration the views of other ministers, boards and agencies of the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial governments and affected aboriginal organizations, coastal communities and other persons and bodies, including those established under land claims agreements."
  • "establish advisory or management bodies and appoint or designate, as appropriate, members of those bodies," and
  • "recognize established advisory or management bodies."
  • "establish marine environmental quality guidelines, objectives and criteria respecting estuaries, coastal waters and marine waters."

Section 35(2) directs the Minister

"for the purposes of Integrated Management plans . . . (to) lead and coordinate the development of a national system of marine protected areas on behalf of the Government of Canada."

Section 40 makes the Minster of Fisheries and Oceans the

"responsible federal authority for all ocean matters not assigned by law to any other department, board or agency of the Government of Canada."
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