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Oceans management decision making


To provide an introductory overview of Ministerial powers and responsibilities in three areas:

Marine conservation

The Minister has the power to establish marine protected areas, marine refuges, and ecologically significant areas



Marine conservation: Policy and process

Marine environmental quality

The Minister may establish marine environmental quality guidelines, objectives and criteria


Specific Commitments

Marine spatial planning

The Minister may lead integrated management and marine spatial planning


Quick Fact:

Decision making is informed by…

Science advice 

Peer-reviewed science advice supports all processes.


Minimum protection standards for federal MPAs and OECMs were announced in April 2019.

Socio-economic and cultural considerations

Analysis of impacts of conservation decisions on marine resource users, stakeholders, and coastal communities. Analysis of spatial data on diverse ocean topics for MSP processes.

Stakeholder consultation and engagement

Advisory processes involving provinces, territories, Indigenous governments and groups, fishing industry and other stakeholders, environmental groups, and coastal communities.

Program direction will be influenced by the Department's international engagement

2020 United Nations Oceans Conference

June 2020 Lisbon, Portugal

International Union for the Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress (IUCN WCC)

Marseille, Franc

June 2020


Conference of the Parties (COP) 15

October, 2020 Kunming, China

5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC 5)

Sept. 26-Oct. 1, 2021

Vancouver, Canada

Annex A: Conserved areas


Canada’s Marine and Coastal Protection
August 2019: 13.81%

Annex B: Legislative and regulatory tools for establishing conserved areas

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada

Parks Canada Agency

Provinces and territories

Indigenous Governments and Groups

Annex C: Current MSP planning areas


This map illustrates 13 marine bioregions in Canada. These include:

  1. Strait of Georgia – an inland basin between Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland of British Columbia
  2. Southern Shelf – area off the west coast of Vancouver Island
  3. Offshore Pacific – area off the west coast of Vancouver Island, beyond the Southern Shelf
  4. Northern Shelf – extends from the top of Vancouver Island to the Canada-US border at Alaska
  5. Arctic Basin
  6. Western Arctic – covers the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut
  7. Arctic Archipelago
  8. Eastern Arctic
  9. Hudson Bay Complex
  10. Newfoundland-Labrador Shelves
  11. Scotian Shelf – off the coast of Nova Scotia
  12. Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence
  13. Great Lakes

DFO plans to initiate Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) processes in five marine areas (indicated with a yellow star) in collaboration with other federal departments, provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, and other stakeholders. These include: the Strait of Georgia, the Northern Shelf, Newfoundland-Labrador-Shelves, Scotian Shelf, and Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

In addition to the planning areas shown here similar activities are advancing in the Eastern Arctic (Pikialasorsuaq initiative) and Northern Labrador (Imappivut initiative).

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