The Maritimes Region is one of the largest and most diverse of the six Department of Fisheries and Oceans administrative regions across Canada. Its programs provide the full range of services within the department's mandate.
Advancing our vision
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) manages and ensures safe, healthy, productive waters and aquatic resources for the benefit of present and future generations. We strive to advance this vision by maintaining the highest global standards of marine safety, environmental protection, scientific excellence, conservation, and sustainable resource use.
The Maritimes Region is a highly diverse area. Its coastal communities, economic orientation, use of natural resources, physical landscape, and cultural ties to the marine environment make our work vital to life in this region.
We serve a broad spectrum of clients including fishers and their associations, Aboriginal fishers of 16 First Nations, shipping and port interests, aquaculturists, recreational boaters, academia, communities, non-profit organizations, environmental groups, and other federal and provincial government departments. We consult and work with them on a daily basis, providing services and advice, and performing research to serve our mutual interests.
Departmental policies and programs are delivered in support of Canada's economic, ecological, and scientific interests in the ocean and freshwater environments. With the ocean as our common thread, we aim to effectively coordinate a range of diversified operations and activities - fisheries resource management, sustainable aquaculture, marine transportation services and safety, marine environmental protection, scientific research, and federally owned small craft harbours.
Managing an 8,600 kilometre coastline
The Region's sectors include the Canadian Coast Guard, Science, Fisheries Management, Oceans and Environment, and Small Craft Harbours. The Region employs approximately 2,400 full time and seasonal staff at over 100 sites to manage an extensive coastline and adjacent marine areas.
The management of the fisheries throughout the Maritime Provinces is shared between two DFO regions - The Scotia-Fundy Fisheries Management Sector, Maritimes Region, and the Gulf Region with its headquarters in Moncton, New Brunswick. The Scotia-Fundy Fisheries Management Sector extends from the northern tip of Cape Breton to the New Brunswick-Maine border. The Gulf Region extends from the New Brunswick-Quebec border to the northern tip of Cape Breton.
The Canadian Coast Guard and Small Craft Harbours are administered by the Maritimes Region in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, for all three Maritime provinces, delivering their services to both the Maritimes and Gulf regions. The Canadian Hydrographic Service has administrative authority that includes the entire Atlantic area extending to the middle of the Canadian Arctic. The remaining programs are focused primarily within the Maritimes Region's administrative boundaries.
Our operations are diverse and decentralized
The Maritimes Region's headquarters is located in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Senior management, including the Regional Director General's Office, Fisheries Management, and Coast Guard are located there.
Although the Regional Director of Fisheries Management is based in Dartmouth, the sector's staff, including Fishery Officers, is largely decentralized to13 sub-district offices and 12 satellite offices throughout the region. In addition, many Maritimes Region DFO staff work out of three area offices - Eastern Nova Scotia, Sydney; Southwest Nova Scotia, Yarmouth; and Southwest New Brunswick, St. Andrews and report to the Area Directors at these locations.
The regional Science programs, as well as the Oceans and Environment programs, are carried out by numerous scientists, oceanographers, hydrographers, technicians, advisors, managers, and support staff working at five different sites throughout the Region, including two major research facilities. These are the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) in Dartmouth, renowned as Canada's largest centre for ocean research, and the St. Andrew's Biological Station (SABS) in New Brunswick, founded over 100 years ago and the first facility of its kind in Canada.
The Canadian Coast Guard headquarters is located in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with operational bases in all three provinces. This includes three Coast Guard bases (Dartmouth, Saint John and Charlottetown), the Canso Canal, eight search and rescue sites, four Coast Guard helicopter hangars (Yarmouth, Shearwater, Saint John, and Charlottetown), science sites. It has a fleet of helicopters and 25 vessels that include five icebreakers, eight lifeboats and six inshore patrol vessels. In addition, the Canadian Coast Guard operates three regional Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centres (MCTS) throughout the Region, and five emergency response equipment depots as well as the Canso Canal.
We have distinct operations with highly co-ordinated objectives
The mandate of the Canadian Coast Guard, Maritimes Region, is the provision of marine safety and environmental protection. It is the marine operational arm of the department managing DFO's fleet and related technical support services and facilities. It supplies air and sea resources to Conservation and Protection and Science programs, including hydrography, as well as to other government departments. The Canadian Coast Guard carries out programs on waterway development, marine navigation services, navigable waters protection, marine communications and traffic services, rescue, safety and environmental response and ice breaking services.
The Canadian Coast Guard operates the civilian fleet of Canada, and as such has a critical role to play as a visible symbol of Canadian identity and as a sentinel of Canada's coastal borders. The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre coordinates and controls aeronautical and maritime search and rescue operations on a 24/7 basis. Also contributing to the overall safety of the mariner is the Coast Guard Auxiliary, with approximately 800 volunteers and 600 vessels.
The Maritimes Region's science staff conduct research vital to protecting Canada's oceans and fresh water bodies from polluting effects and enhancing the ability to understand, conserve and manage these resources. Some research activities are conducted as far north as the Canadian Arctic. Specifically, we perform research on the changing oceans and influences on marine life, the regional aquaculture industry, and the status of commercial species, which remains a staple of our operations. Our oceanographers perform research to understand and predict changes in the environment of the ocean and ocean processes.
In addition, we chart, survey, measure, and describe Canada's waters and tides to facilitate commercial navigation and fishing activities, as well as map the ocean floor. Demand for nautical products, such as electronic charts and sea floor maps, continues to grow as Atlantic sea-lanes become busier, fishing becomes more high-tech, and interest increases in ocean development projects.
Our Science operations support many other regional DFO operations such as Fisheries Management and Oceans and Environment. For example, in Fisheries Management, we perform essential research in monitoring, sampling and tagging aquatic species to determine size, age, and egg production.
DFO research contributes to and uses knowledge from world sources and from collaborative research with local, national and international research institutions and universities. Information is often shared through partnerships with other government departments, private industry, academia and the public. Under the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy, DFO formed a partnership with Dalhousie University, the University of PEI and the University of New Brunswick. This project researches the population genetics of haddock, herring and lobster to progress the development of genetic biotechnology for the improvement of fisheries management and aquaculture.
Other partnerships include a joint initiative with the offshore scallop fleet and Natural Resources Canada to produce high resolution sea maps of Canada's portion of George's Bank. A goal of this and other sea mapping projects is to combine the mapping expertise of the Canadian Hydrographic Service with a wide spectrum of oceans science, to advance fisheries, oceans and habitat management, and fish harvesting.
We also participate with commercial groups, such as the on-going research initiative with First Nations and communities in Bras D'or Lakes area in support of integrated management, and with the fishing industry through the Fishermen Scientists Research Society.
DFO science plays a lead role in the development of aquaculture. Groundbreaking research on Atlantic salmon, haddock, and halibut conducted at the St. Andrews Biological Station in the past few decades has played a major role in its success. Continued research on these species and others such as sea urchins and scallops is leading to more business ventures. Research on potential interactions between aquaculture, fisheries and the aquatic environment is ongoing to ensure the impacts of aquaculture are minimal.
Increasing populations and worldwide demand for seafood is fueling the need to provide high quality products year round. As a result, commercial aquaculture is one of the fastest growing food production activities in the world.
In the Maritimes Region, aquaculture is managed under Memoranda of Understanding between DFO and the provincial governments in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The provincial governments are responsible for leasing and licensing sites and DFO ensures that all sites meet the requirements under theFisheries Act andNavigable Waters Protection Act. The Aquaculture Coordination Office oversees the development of aquaculture and ensures it is conducted in a sustainable fashion.
The economic contribution aquaculture has provided to this Region has steadily increased in the past few decades. Currently, in the three Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island), aquaculture is valued at $270 million with a production of 58,000 tonnes. Species currently being cultured include Atlantic salmon, quahaugs, oysters, mussels, scallops, Irish moss and new ventures have recently begun raising Atlantic halibut and haddock.
The Region contains an increasingly viable fishing industry, reinforcing the important role of our Fisheries Management operations. In fact, the Scotia-Fundy commercial fishing industry is worth 40% more today than it was a decade ago. This creates more than 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, including approximately 13,000 full and part-time fishers in the Scotia-Fundy Commercial Fishery, operating approximately 4,750 fishing vessels.
The Regional Fisheries Management Program is responsible for managing the regional fisheries resources, which are harvested for Aboriginal, commercial, and recreational purposes in marine and inland waters. The objective of the Fisheries Management Program is to conserve fishery resources, and to manage the fisheries to ensure sustainable use and viability.
Major operations of Fisheries Management provide assessments and advice on the allocation of fisheries resources. They develop regulations and licensing of fisheries operations, provide conservation, protection and enforcement of fishing activities, develop regional Aboriginal fisheries agreements, and provide assessment and experimental harvesting of potential underutilized commercial species.
In addition, our staff is responsible for consultation with fishers and the fishing industry through Fisheries Advisory Committees. In fact, hundreds of Advisory Committee meetings are held annually, making the fisheries one of the most openly consulted and managed Canadian industries.
In developing the fishery of the future, the Maritimes Region respects Aboriginal rights to fish, as determined by the Supreme Court of Canada's 1999Marshall decision. To address the government's obligations and to reach its objective of increased self-reliance for First Nations, the Department has initiated various programs and initiatives aimed at increasing Mi'kmaq and Malisset communities' participation in the Atlantic commercial fishery.
In co-ordination with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, DFO is also taking further steps to address its obligations under theMarshall decision.
There is a growing understanding among Canadians of the importance of protecting and benefiting from our marine and freshwater environments and resources. Aquatic environments are a significant component of the social and economic base of the Maritimes - commercial and recreational fishing, aquaculture, oil and gas, shipping, naval operations, ocean research and development, recreation and tourism.
In 1997, theOceans Act reaffirmed DFO's lead role in the management and stewardship of Canada's oceans. The Maritimes Region supports the Department's oceans mandate through its Oceans and Environment Branch.
The Branch itself comprises two functional divisions. Under theFisheries Act, the Habitat Management Division is responsible for implementing the National Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat. It also fulfills ourCanadian Environmental Assessment Act responsibilities, related to decisions under theNavigable Waters Protection Act andFisheries Act. Staff in the division are engaged in habitat stewardship and restoration initiatives with community groups throughout the region. The division provides guidance and advice to developers and coastal landowners so that their activities do not have a harmful impact on fish habitat. The Habitat Management Division also provides expert advice for environmental assessments.
The Oceans and Coastal Management Division leads integrated oceans and coastal management initiatives, including the development of management plans, designation of marine protected areas, and the establishment of marine environmental quality standards. For example, the Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management initiative combines a broad range of public and marine interests to develop a planning and management process for this complex offshore environment. The Sable Gully Marine Protected Area initiative complements this effort with the goal of protecting this special deep-sea canyon environment.
The Oceans and Environment Branch realizes the importance of public education and stewardship for the effective management of our aquatic resources. A variety of public education activities have been initiated by DFO to provide relevant information on freshwater and marine ecosystems. These activities range from learning about opportunities in the ocean field to understanding the importance of healthy and sustainable oceans and coastal communities.
Along with the work in the Oceans and Environment Branch, the oceans mandate is reflected in all DFO operations in the Region, including fisheries management, science, environmental protection, and marine safety and navigation.
Small Craft Harbours is responsible for developing, maintaining, and managing a core system of regional harbours, which support the commercial fishery industry.
Primary thrusts include the transfer of harbour operations to Harbour Authorities groups for local community-based management, and the rationalization of remaining fishing harbours to support an active core. The continuing role of our staff is to assist Harbour Authorities with knowledge, advice and finances.
Small Craft Harbours' portfolio consists of close to 400 harbours in the Maritime provinces. Local Harbour Authorities currently manage almost 300 of these harbours. The remaining sites will be rationalized on a site by site basis.
Relationships between DFO Maritimes Region and the United States regarding the marine environment, specifically the East Coast fisheries, have been ongoing for decades. In the Gulf of Maine, Canada and the US share some of the most valuable fisheries resources in the world.
With both nations asserting differing political, legal and social systems, there are different approaches to the management of our respective marine fisheries, including transboundary fish stocks. There are many areas of mutual concern between Canada and the US, as well as many areas of dispute resolutions.
One common area, the St. Croix River, forms 185 km of the Canada-US border between southwestern New Brunswick and northeastern Maine. The river supports many important recreational activities such as canoeing, recreational and Aboriginal fishing. DFO Maritimes Region chairs the St. Croix River Steering Committee, which includes representatives of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the N.B. Department of Natural Resources and Energy and the St. Croix International Waterway Commission. The committee works to seek mutual agreements on rebuilding and maintaining the depleted fish stocks in the river.
The majority of Canadian fisheries-related issues in the Gulf of Maine are addressed through the Gulf of Maine Advisory Committee, co-chaired by the Regional Director General of DFO Maritimes Region. The committee represents a variety of interests within the fishing industry, Atlantic provincial governments, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, DFO, and the Canadian Consul in Boston.
Members of the committee jointly develop and provide advice to DFO on the Gulf of Maine isheries issues. The committee advises on operational, technical and scientific analyses necessary to support future formal discussions with the US. Some of the issues it addresses include differing views between Canada and the US regarding stock definition, segregation of George's Bank transboundary herring, growing concern for North Atlantic right whales, and industry concerns about the rebuilding plans for transboundary groundfish.
DFO Maritimes Region is also represented on the Gulf of Maine Council on the Environment. This group fosters co-operative actions within the Gulf of Maine Watershed to preserve a common heritage and encourage sustainable resource use. Its members include representatives from federal, provincial and state governments, and the private sector.