Report on Plans and Priorities 2015-16

Organizational Context

Raison d'être and Responsibilities

Fisheries and Oceans Canada supports strong and sustainable economic growth in our marine and fisheries sectors and contributes to a prosperous economy through global commerce by supporting exports and advancing safe maritime trade. The Department supports the innovation needed for a knowledge-based economy through research in expanding sectors such as aquaculture and biotechnology. The Department contributes to a clean and healthy environment and sustainable aquatic ecosystems for Canadians through habitat protection, oceans management, and ecosystems research. A safe and secure Canada relies on the maritime security, safe navigation, a presence in our waters, and the effective search and rescue services that the Canadian Coast Guard provides.

Our Mission

Through sound science, forward-looking policy, and operational and service excellence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada employees work collaboratively toward the following strategic outcomes:

Our Vision

To advance sustainable aquatic ecosystems and support safe and secure Canadian waters while fostering economic prosperity across maritime sectors and fisheries.

The Department's core work is guided by five key pieces of legislation:

  • The Fisheries ActFootnote1 provides, among other things, broad powers to the Minister for the proper management and control of commercial, Aboriginal, and recreational fisheries, and aquaculture operations. Further to various long-standing arrangements, the provinces have assumed administrative responsibility for the management of most inland fisheries.
  • The Oceans ActFootnote2, among other things, provides authority to the Minister to lead the development and implementation of plans for the integrated management of activities affecting estuaries, coastal and marine waters, and the coordination of oceans issues. The Act also establishes the Minister's responsibility for Coast Guard services, as well as responsibility for marine science services such as the Canadian Hydrographic Services' nautical charts and publications.
  • While the Minister of Environment has primary responsibility for the administration of the Species at Risk ActFootnote3, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is the competent minister for aquatic species.
  • The Coastal Fisheries Protection ActFootnote4 regulates access by foreign fishing vessels to Canadian ports and Canadian fisheries waters. Among other things, the Act gives the Minister the power to issue licences authorizing foreign fishing vessels to enter Canadian fisheries waters to engage in specified fisheries-related activities.
  • The Canada Shipping Act, 2001Footnote5 (Transport CanadaFootnote6-led) sets out, among other things, as a part of the Minister's mandate for the Coast Guard, the responsibility for search and rescue and lighthouses (including lights, signal buoys, and beacons).

For more information on Fisheries and Oceans Canada's guiding legislation and policies, please visit the Fisheries and Oceans CanadaFootnote7 website.

The Canadian Coast GuardFootnote8, a Special Operating Agency within Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is responsible for services and programs that contribute to all three of the Department's strategic outcomes. The Coast Guard also contributes significantly to the safety, security, and accessibility of Canada's waterways. The Canadian Coast Guard supports other government organizations by providing a civilian fleet and a broadly distributed shore-based infrastructure.

Strategic Outcomes and Program Alignment Architecture

Organizational Priorities

For 2015-16, the Department established four organizational priorities. The priorities and the key plans for each priority are summarized in the tables below.

Priority TypeFootnote9 Strategic Outcomes
Improving fisheries and aquaculture management and outcomes, and enabling access to export markets for Canadian fish and seafood, through concrete reforms informed by sound science as well as stakeholder and Aboriginal engagement. Ongoing
Why is this a priority?
  • This is in support of the Government's priority to protect and promote Canada's farming, fishing, aquaculture and forestry industries; and strengthen the economic competitiveness of the sector.

What are the plans for meeting this priority?

  • Continue to advance Canadian objectives in international efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to improve the way global fisheries are managed through effective decision making and sound science, consistent with Canadian best practices. (2.1 Compliance and Enforcement and 1.7 International Engagement)
  • Advance and secure Canadian access to export markets for wild fish and aquaculture products including through negotiations of key bilateral and multilateral trade agreements (e.g., Trans-Pacific Partnership) and by supporting implementation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement and the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement. (1.7 International Engagement)
  • Work with the fishing industry on initiatives that enable them to adjust to changing economic and ecosystem conditions. (1.1 Integrated Fisheries Management)
  • Support the Canadian seal industry by promoting market access, countering misinformation about Canadian seal products, and working with stakeholders to establish new markets for seal products. (1.7 International Engagement)
  • Continue to enhance stable fisheries management regimes and maintain strong relationships with Aboriginal groups, by:
    • Advancing treaty fisheries negotiations in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada, under approved fisheries negotiation mandates, as well as ongoing fisheries negotiations in the Northwest Territories, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador; (1.2 Aboriginal Strategies and Governance)
    • Implementing fisheries elements of the 24 existing treaties and preparing for the April 2016 effective date for Tla'amin and Yale First Nations Final Agreements in British Columbia; (1.2 Aboriginal Strategies and Governance)
    • Continued implementation of Aboriginal programs such as the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy and the Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management Program; and (1.2 Aboriginal Strategies and Governance)
    • Implementing the renewal of the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative. (1.2 Aboriginal Strategies and Governance)
  • Support commercial fisheries by making improvements during 2015-16 to Canada's small craft harbours (year 2 of 2 of the Economic Action Plan 2014). (1.9 Small Craft Harbours)
  • Provide stock assessments and sound science advice in support of fisheries management. Adapt approaches to science assessments and fisheries management strategies to take into account changing environmental conditions. (1.1 Integrated Fisheries Management)
  • Develop a framework for the Fisheries Resource Science Program to ensure better alignment with key departmental priorities. (1.1 Integrated Fisheries Management)


Priority Type Strategic Outcomes
Renewing Canadian Coast Guard assets and service delivery Ongoing
Why is this a priority?
  • In support of several Government of Canada priorities, this priority is fundamental to ensuring that the Canadian Coast Guard has the assets and means to provide Canadians with safe and efficient navigation and respond more effectively to maritime incidents.

What are the plans for meeting this priority?

  • Continue to implement the Fleet Renewal Plan, a multi-year initiative to renew fleet assets, and support the delivery of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. This includes:
  • Support Speech from the Throne commitment to act on advice from the Expert Panel on Tanker Safety to create a world class tanker safety system, through the following activities:
    • Enhancing Canada's marine navigation system, including its supporting infrastructure, by leveraging the implementation of the e-Navigation concept in Canadian waters which provides mariners and shore authorities with official and real time information to support decision making and proactively identify high-risk situations; (1.8 Marine Navigation)
    • Improving the aids to navigation system in Kitimat, British Columbia to meet user requirements in an effective and efficient manner; (1.8 Marine Navigation)
    • Designing the new Area Response Planning pilot project for delivery in four geographic areas of Canada, and beginning stakeholder engagement on the planning process; (2.4 Environmental Response Services)
    • Commencing the collection and analysis of science and marine ecosystems information and data as key supporting elements of the world class tanker system initiatives, such as Area Response Planning (2.4 Environmental Response Services and 2.5 Oceans Management); and
    • Implementing key elements of the Incident Command System, as the standard incident management methodology to strengthen marine pollution and other all-hazard incident response, in collaboration with emergency management partners. (2.4 Environmental Response Services and 3.3 Maritime Security)


Priority Type Strategic Outcomes
Supporting sustainable resource development through sound science, policy and program changes, and modernized regulatory frameworks. New
Why is this a priority?
  • This will support the Government's priority of ensuring that Canada's natural resources are developed sustainably and responsibly through the use of strong regulatory frameworks, sound science research, and strategic investments.

What are the plans for meeting this priority?

  • Continue to enhance and modernize the aquaculture regulatory framework to improve predictability and transparency for the aquaculture industry. This will be achieved through the Sustainable Aquaculture Program; a comprehensive science program; and, public reporting. (1.3 Sustainable Aquaculture Program)
  • Through the National Conservation Plan, strengthen marine and coastal conservation focussing on the development and implementation of Marine Protected Area (MPA) management frameworks; establishing new MPAs; and, advancing MPA networks. (2.5 Oceans Management)
  • Advancing Arctic priorities in support of the Government's Northern Strategy by:
    • Ensuring that the Arctic Council and its committees continue advancing the international dimension of the Northern Strategy; (1.7 International Engagement)
    • Continuing to develop the Canadian High Arctic Station Science and Technology Program; (2.5 Oceans Management)
    • Advancing key elements of the Arctic Marine Transportation Strategy, affirming the Northern Marine Transportation Corridors Initiative, an approach to identify efficient and safe corridors to facilitate sustainable growth and enhance marine safety, and using science advice and technology to guide implementation; (1.8 Marine Navigation and 3.7 Hydrographic Products and Services)
    • Examining further improvements to the Department's readiness to respond to marine incidents in the Arctic, involving opportunities to bolster knowledge of the potential impacts of marine accidents on the environment; and (2.4 Environmental Response Services)
    • Continuing to work with the four other Arctic Ocean Coastal States and other international partners to implement a precautionary approach for high-seas fisheries in the central Arctic Ocean. (1.7 International Engagement)
  • Continue to implement the Fisheries Protection Provisions of the Fisheries Act through the timely review of projects and by engaging with external stakeholders, including Aboriginal on the ongoing development of tools, policies and guidance. (2.2 Fisheries Protection)
  • Continue work to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in Canada by contributing to international obligations through the Sea Lamprey Control Program, and continuing implementation of the Aquatic Invasive Species Annex of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and the Asian Carp Initiative. (2.2 Fisheries Protection)
  • Continue to support the Major Projects Management Office Initiative by providing technical advice on the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012Footnote10, and through Aboriginal consultation activities. (2.2 Fisheries Protection)
  • Complete projects under the Aquatic Climate Change Adaptation Services Program and communicate the results to stakeholders. (1.11 Climate Change Adaptation Program)
  • Through the National Contaminants Advisory Group and in collaboration with academia and other partners, fund research projects on the biological effects of contaminants on aquatic organisms. (2.2 Fisheries Protection)


Priority Type Strategic Outcomes
Advancing management and operational excellence to modernize and continue to improve the design and delivery of programs and services. Ongoing
Why is this a priority?
  • This is in support of the Government's agenda to ensure that taxpayers are getting value for money through the effective and efficient use of resources while providing better results for Canadians.

What are the plans for meeting this priority?

  • Implement Blueprint 2020 initiatives across the five Government of Canada themes: innovative practices and networking; processes and empowerment; technology; people management; and, fundamentals of public service. This includes engaging the Young Professionals' Network, creating an Innovation Lab, and piloting projects to realize efficiencies in internal processes. (Internal Services)
  • Based on the results of the 2014 Public Service Employee Survey, develop and implement action plans to address areas requiring improvement in the Department. (Internal Services)
  • Continue to improve, monitor and report on the implementation of Treasury Board Secretariat's Directive on Performance Management to ensure people management is strengthened and supports a culture of high performance. (Internal Services)
  • Continue to implement the Government of Canada's IM/IT and Services Consolidation and Transformation Strategy including:
    • Transferring pay services to Public Works and Government Services Canada; (Internal Services)
    • Implementing the Email Transformation Initiative and migrating to consolidated Government of Canada websites; (Internal Services) and
    • Implementing the Human Resources Modernization Initiative through the transition to a single Government of Canada Human Resources system (PeopleSoft 9.1). (Internal Services)
  • Continue to effectively manage the Department's web presence to ensure an integrated approach to delivering services and information to Canadians and stakeholders that are client-focussed, cost-effective and will ensure a successful migration to a single Government of Canada site. (Internal Services)
  • Continue to implement the multi-year departmental National Real Property Portfolio Strategy resulting in a more sustainable and efficient real property footprint. (Internal Services)

Risk Analysis

Fisheries and Oceans Canada operates in a dynamic environment. Northern development, the expansion of navigable waters, environmental changes, severe weather events, changes in the Canadian workforce, technological advances, changing maritime safety and security demands, and globalization of fisheries markets are among the factors impacting the Department. The Department continues to assess how it conducts its business, provides services and delivers on its programs to meet client and stakeholder needs.

The Department has identified three mission-critical corporate risks, reflected in the table below, which may affect the Department in the future. While these risks may or may not materialize, they represent a significant threat to the Department's operations and mandate. As such, the Department is responding by treating, monitoring, and mitigating each risk to ensure that Canadian waters remain safe and secure, that Canadians and stakeholders in maritime sectors and fisheries prosper, and that Canada continues to support a sustainable aquatic ecosystem.

The risks and risk response strategies identified below reflect the decisions of the Department's senior management. For each mission critical risk, action plans have been put in place to mitigate the potential impact and/or likelihood of the risk occurring. Each risk will also be monitored through the use of indicators to ensure that the action plans are helping to reduce the risk's severity. These action plans and indicators are critical to the Department's proactive approach in managing its corporate risks. Details regarding each risk and the action plans to be implemented in 2015-16 can be found in the table below.

Mission Critical Risks

Risk Statement Risk Response Strategy and Action Plans Link to Program Alignment Architecture
Environmental Impacts on Fisheries Risk

Potential Impact - Very High
Likelihood - Likely

As a result of changing oceanographic and freshwater conditions, there is a risk that Canada's fish stocks may fluctuate in an unpredictable manner and affect the Department's and its provincial/territorial partners' management of the fisheries.

Includes: Commercial, Recreational, and Aboriginal Fisheries.

Response Strategy: TreatFootnote11

Action Plans:

  • Work with the fishing industry to implement industry-driven initiatives that enable them to adjust to changing economic and ecosystem conditions.
  • Continue to implement the Sustainable Fisheries Framework policies and tools and elaborate new policy instruments under the Framework as required.
  • Continue to invest in and advertise successful management, monitoring, and science actions (e.g. sea lamprey control; Asian carp program; ballast water science and management).
  • Meet commitments to fund the binational Great Lakes Fishery Commission and sea lamprey control.
Physical Infrastructure Maintenance Risk

Potential Impact - Very High
Likelihood - Likely

As a result of aging infrastructure, severe weather events and/or claims involving departmental real property, there is a risk that the Department may not be able to maintain its infrastructure to support the required levels of service delivery.

Includes: Fleet assets, small craft harbours, real property, shore-based assets, information technology assets and equipment, and other moveable assets.

Response Strategy: Treat

Action Plans:

  • The Salmonid Enhancement Program is undertaking $35M in strategic major capital upgrades at its facilities between the period 2012-13 and 2016-17.
  • The Fleet Renewal Plan will increase fleet reliability and ensure operational capability to support service delivery.
  • Fleet Maintenance will carry out repair and refit work or Vessel Life Extensions (VLE) to extend the life of existing vessels.
  • The Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) program will continue to reinvest in its asset base (i.e., Communication Control System - CCS).
  • Investigate alternative vessel platform opportunities and/or new technology to help alleviate vessel pressures and potentially increase data collection capacity.
  • Small Craft Harbours: Implement Budget 2014 ($40M over 2014-15 and 2015-16) projects, the outcome of which will be to restore many of the facilities to good operating condition as well as to improve harbour functionality through targeted investments aimed at alleviating operational problems.
  • In the context of the National Real Property Portfolio Strategy; continue to identify critical health and safety projects and activities, complete integrated portfolio plans and complete Site Management Plans.
Hazard and Crisis Risk

Potential Impact - Very High
Likelihood - Moderate

As a result of the increased complexity and volume of marine traffic, and growing diversity in ocean usage, there is a risk that the Department may experience challenges in responding to hazards and crises.

Response Strategy: Treat

Action Plans:

  • Implement the Incident Command System (ICS), which will improve the Canadian Coast Guard's ability to manage responses to marine pollution events and other marine and all-hazard emergency incidents in collaboration with key emergency response partners.
  • Implementation of the Government of Canada's World-Class Tanker Safety System priority will work to reduce the likelihood of marine mishaps by improving navigation, providing a better understanding of pollution responses (and potential impacts to the environment) and increasing the capacity to respond to emergency situations.