Proceedings of the Third World Fisheries Congress: Feeding the World with Fish in the Next Millenium—The Balance between Production and Environment

Oceans Management: A New Paradigm for Managing Canada’s Aquatic Resources

Ronald K. Kadowaki, Donna M. Petrachenko, Dick Carson, Athana Metzelopoulos


Bordered by oceans on three sides (Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific), Canada is a country that has virtually unparalleled marine and coastal resources. Canada has the world’s longest coastline and the second largest continental shelf. Forming a portion of this coastline is Canada’s Arctic Archipelago, the largest archipelago in the world.

Of Canada’s 10 provinces, 8 are coastal—as are all of its northern territories and many of its major cities. Approximately 23% of Canadians live in coastal communities. Canada’s coastal endowment has enormous potential to benefit present and future generations. Coastal areas are crucial for transportation, fishing and aquaculture, recreation and tourism, and subsistence. In economic terms, substantial wealth is generated from Canadian marine resources. For residents of the coastal zone, however, its value in social, cultural, and spiritual terms far exceeds its economic worth.

Today, Canada’s coastal riches face more threats and pressures than ever before. They include increasing and competing demands for the resources themselves as well as pressure from unrelated human developments—not only along and adjacent to the coast, on land and in the water, but also from global changes brought about by human ac activity many thousands of kilometers away.
In this paper, we

• explain the context for integrated oceans management in Canada,
• describe its relationship to fisheries management,
• outline a new approach to decision-making processes at the local and regional (coastwide) levels that support integrated management, and
• present some of the challenges facing Canada as it moves toward this new paradigm.

Canada’s Oceans Act calls on Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (also known as Fisheries and Oceans Canada or DFO) to address the numerous and compelling problems and economic development opportunities facing Canada’s coasts through the development of a strategy for oceans management. The act further provides for the development and implementation, with stakeholders, of plans for the integrated management of activities in or affecting estuaries, coastal waters, and marine waters.

As the federal lead agency for oceans, DFO recognizes the interests and roles of other federal departments, provinces, and territories in the coastal zone. Under the authority of the Oceans Act, DFO is required to

• cooperate, prepare, and disseminate (with stakeholders) educational materials and information to advance the understanding of coastal processes and integrated coastal zone management (ICZM);
• coordinate the planning and management of DFO’s coastal regulatory activities with those of other regulatory authorities;
• draw a wide range of stakeholders into the process to integrate the planning and management of their activities;
• provide specialized information, scientific and technical advice, and research on the coastal marine environment and its living resources required to develop integrated management plans; and
• enforce environmental provisions under DFO authority.