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, the Oceans Act reaffirmed DFO's lead role in the management and stewardship of Canada's oceans. The Maritimes Region provides a lead role in fulfilling the Department mandate in the management and stewardship of Canada's Oceans (Oceans Act), Aquatic Species at Risk (Species at Risk Act), and fish habitat (Fisheries Act) through its Ecosystem Management Branch.
Through the Fisheries Act, the Habitat Protection and Sustainable Development Division is responsible for implementing the National Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat. It also fulfills our Canadian Environmental Assessment Act responsibilities, related to decisions under the Navigable Waters Protection Act and Fisheries 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. Habitat Protection and Sustainable Development employees also provide expert advice for environmental assessments.
The Environmental Assessment and Major Projects Division is primarily responsible for the regional habitat program specific to the department’s responsibilities under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Activities include, but are not limited to, environmental assessment reviews of major projects.
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 Species at Risk Management Division provides overall coordination and leadership for the administration of the Species at Risk Act to undertake activities in the following areas: protection of species at risk (including assessment and listing); recovery of species at risk (including recovery planning and implementation); evaluation (including monitoring and evaluation); and regulatory compliance (i.e. permitting).
Ecosystem Management Branch employees realize the importance of public education and stewardship for the effective management of our aquatic resources. A variety of public education activities 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 Ecosystem Management, the oceans mandate is reflected in all DFO operations in the Region, including fisheries management, science, environmental protection, and marine safety and navigation.