Marine Mammal Working Group


The Marine Mammal Working Group (MMWG) of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) deals with marine mammal management related issues beyond that of harvesting. There are many current issues with respect to the non-consumptive use of marine mammals such as commercial and recreational whale watching. The benefits and beneficiaries of such non-consumptive use are significant and diversified.

The appeal of marine mammal related tourism reflects a trend in interest and awareness, particularly in relation to marine mammals in their natural habitat. The MMWG works to provide guidance for non-consumptive uses of marine mammals.

The MMWG aims to ensure the precautionary approach is applied to the management of marine mammals used for non-harvest activities that are carried out in Canadian waters. In considering management measures, the MMWG calls for the application of the latest scientific research and knowledge, while allowing for exemptions and flexibility to take into account differences related to a particular species or area.

The MMWG is guided by the principle that marine mammals are a common property resource to be managed for the benefit of all Canadians. This is consistent with: conservation objectives; the constitutional protection afforded to Aboriginal and treaty rights; and, and the benefits that various uses of the resource afford to Canadian society. The goal of the MMWG is to find cohesion and a commonality in Canada's approaches to the management and conservation of marine mammals.


The mandate of the MMWG is to ensure a consistent and coordinated national management approach to marine mammals by:

  • Sharing information, including best practices, related to the management of marine mammals, through policies and program management activities;
  • Pursuing policy integration and coherence related to the management of marine mammals, through input to and review of marine mammal-related initiatives;
  • Securing funding to maintain an effective and appropriate Marine Mammal Response Program;
  • Providing a coordinated national repository of marine mammal related information;
  • Addressing national/international marine mammal management issues that are referred to the group; and,
  • Coordinating the implementation of marine mammal management within DFO.


Membership consists of:

  • A representative from each DFO region and National Headquarters ( NHQ). The secretariat is located in NHQ.

MMWG will invite other persons from the Department who are not MMWG members to participate/observe as appropriate.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Chair is responsible for preparing the agenda, in consultation with the members, distributing relevant materials and chairing the meetings. The NHQ representative will be the chair.

Members are responsible for:

  • Providing advice and input on behalf of their respective Program or Region;
  • Communicating relevant MMWG information/activities to their respective DFO region and briefing their management on a regular basis;
  • Coordinating the implementation of policies to ensure national operational coherence and coordination;
  • Communicating the issues within their Programs or Regions with implications for the management of marine mammals; and
  • Sharing best practices relating to the implementation of relevant Acts and operations related to marine mammal management.

NHQ staff will provide any summary records of MMWG meetings and teleconferences and will disseminate them to participants. Members will provide any relevant notes taken to assist in the preparation of summary records.

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