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Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure

The Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure (MSDI) supports integration and sharing of marine geospatial data and information. MSDI helps create and house digital applications that are freely available to the public to use.

MSDI is Fisheries and Oceans Canada's (DFO) component of the Canadian Geospatial Data Infrastructure and supports Open Science.


Our ocean is a busy place. With so much happening above and below the surface, we need a way to share what we know about the marine environment.

All across Canada, ocean scientists and other experts are out in the field, working hard to gather important scientific data.

Many of these experts are employees of federal Government departments, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Others work for universities, marine industries, ocean organizations...and many other sectors. These people generate a lot of data …

In line with the directive on open government and open data, the Government of Canada is developing a system to help users access this data.

And, an important part of this the Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure...or MSDI. It is a system that benefits many users and data owners, providing a way to organize, visualize, save, share and access all of their marine geospatial data.

MSDI’s data feeds other initiatives and networks like the Federal Geospatial Platform, which then feeds into the Directive on Open Government.

MSDI also feeds data into collaborative initiatives like the Canadian Integrated Ocean Observing System.

MSDI is built on four key components:

  1. Standards: These ensure that data from various sources can be compared and compiled.
  2. Data and metadata: These ensure that the data you are sharing can be discovered using a search engine.
  3. Infrastructure: Computers, mobile devices and cloud servers are needed by MSDI to deliver data to users.
  4. Governance: This ensures that MSDI works together with and leverages existing initiatives and best practices.

These four components support MSDI, which in turn supports decision-making related to safe navigation, coastal management and planning, resource exploration, environmental protection, emergency response, and Sovereignty.

So much is happening around, above and below the surface.

Having access to the most current and robust information about these complex systems is critical for important decision making. By making better decisions, we contribute to improved marine safety as well as the protection of our ocean resources for future generations.

How it works

MSDI provides users with a way to organize, visualize, save, share, and access marine geospatial data. The service is built on four key components:

  1. Data and metadata to ensure that the applications or data shared can be discovered using a search engine. Both data and metadata accessed through MSDI are described in clear, bilingual (English and French) language. Data is accessible, authoritative, and accurate. Metadata is harmonized and maintained by its owner.
  2. Infrastructure on both physical and cloud servers to provide applications to users. This creates a flexible, robust, and sustainable system.
  3. Standards that specify the rules for data access, content, and exchange to ensure the compatibility and compilation of data from various sources and formats.
  4. Policy and Governance to ensure that MSDI works with and leverages existing initiatives and best practices, including respecting and supporting Indigenous data sovereignty

Benefits and uses

MSDI aims to provide targeted marine applications to support evidence-based analysis, decision-making and data dissemination in and outside of DFO. It can play a crucial role in supporting sustainable marine management and conservation efforts.

MSDI applications serve as a valuable tool for:


Here is a list of the many available applications that have been developed using our MSDI service:

MSDI Applications
Application Description
British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF) – interactive map This interactive map explores projects funded through the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF) program. The map highlights the geographic distribution of BCSRIF projects by their associated investment category (Infrastructure, Science partnerships, or Innovation) and shares summary details of individual projects.
Canada Marine Planning Atlas - Atlantic The Atlas allows users to visualize publicly available data relevant to marine spatial planning on the Atlantic Coast.
Canada Marine Planning Atlas - Pacific The Atlas allows users to visualize publicly available data relevant to marine spatial planning on the Pacific Coast.
Canadian Extreme Water Level Adaption Tool (CAN-EWLAT) This tool provides advice on adapting coastal infrastructure to sea level rise along Canada's coastlines over the coming century.
Shellfish harvesting – map This real-time map tracks the openings and closures of Canadian harvesting areas for bivalve shellfish (mussels, oysters, clams, and scallops).
Whale Insight – interactive map This interactive map displays North Atlantic right whale detections in eastern Canadian waters.
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) – map This map shows the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) zones.
Canada's Marine Safety System – StoryMap This story map provides information about Canada's marine safety system.
History of Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas in the Maritimes Region – StoryMap This story map summarizes work that has been done by the Government of Canada to identify ecologically and biologically significant areas in the Scotian Shelf bioregion.
Arctic Voyage Planning Guide (AVPG) The Arctic Voyage Planning Guide (AVPG) is a strategic planning tool and a compilation of data and services for national and international vessels travelling in the Canadian Arctic.
Canada's marine protected and conserved areas– map This map displays Canada's marine conservation targets protected federally and provincially, including areas protected by DFO, Parks Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada.
Canadian Station Inventory and Data Download This inventory stores Canadian tides and water level data, including station information and observed water level data available for download.
Chart Index This index details the geographical extent of products produced by the Canadian Hydrographic Service including paper charts, vector Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) and digital raster charts (BSB).
Contact a regional office – map This map displays DFO offices across Canada, including headquarters, institutes, and laboratories.
DFO Data Viewer This application is a discovery tool for available geospatial data layers across DFO.
Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) Nautical Charts - Find a Dealer This map is used to locate nautical chart dealers in Canada.
Tidal Stations This interactive map shares data from tidal stations across Canada including observations, predictions and forecasted water levels.
Cumulative Effects in the Salish Sea – StoryMap This story map provides an overview of marine and coastal initiatives, tools and organizations that support the investigation of cumulative effects in the Salish Sea.
DFO and CCG Careers – StoryMap This story map details career paths at Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, including work in science, policy, and conservation.
Fogo Seamounts – StoryMap This story map highlights seven seamounts (underwater mountains) known as the Fogo Seamounts, which are still being explored off the coast of Nova Scotia.
Fish, Floods, and Habitat Connectivity in the Lower Fraser – StoryMap This story map explores the threats of climate change, habitat modification and habitat degradation. It tells the story of why it is important to preserve and restore the connection between fish spawning and rearing habitat in the lower parts of the Fraser River and its estuary.

Contact us

For more information or questions about MSDI, contact

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