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Horizontal Initiatives

Name of Horizontal Initiative: Health of the Oceans (HOTO)

Name of Lead Department(s): Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Lead Department Program Activity: Oceans Management

Start Date of the Horizontal Initiative: April 1, 2007

End Date of the Horizontal Initiative: March 31, 2012

Total Federal Funding Allocation (start to end date): $61.5 million

Description of the Horizontal Initiative (including funding agreement): Building on the achievements of the Oceans Action Plan, the Health of the Oceans Initiative is a five-year, $61.5 million commitment by five departments — DFO, Transport Canada, Environment Canada, Parks Canada and INAC — to improve the health of the ocean environment. For its part, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will receive $23.2 million to support its protection and conservation work. Key DFO initiatives include establishing nine new Marine Protected Areas (including six under the Oceans Act), conducting scientific research to support designation of the new Marine Protected Areas, creating four new national Oceans Centres of Expertise, and enhancing spill-response capacity and emergency planning in the Arctic Ocean. For a complete list, see the table below. DFO will co-ordinate the entire Health of the Oceans Initiative. This will include bi-annual performance monitoring, the preparation of summary annual reports and preparation for a final summative evaluation.

Shared Outcome(s):

  • New Oceans Centres of Expertise
  • Federal Marine Protected Area Strategy: finalization of planning guidelines for federal MPA network
  • Federal Marine Protected Area Strategy: preparation of a status report of federal MPA
  • Federal-Provincial-Territorial Marine Protected Areas MPA network (2012)
  • Marine Protected Areas establishment
  • Collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund-Canada
  • Delivery of a suite of indicators to assess and monitor Arctic ecosystems
  • Integrated Oceans Management and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) assessment tools linkage

Governance Structure(s): This initiative is subject to interdepartmental government through the Assistant Deputy Ministers Interdepartmental Committee on Oceans, supported by a shadow Director General Committee. This Governance structure reviews the initiatives on a regular basis including review and approval of annual reports to Ministers on the progress of this initiative.

Expected Results 2008-09:

  • Establish four Oceans Centres of Expertise to develop and implement common tools and approaches in the five LOMAs to protect deep-sea corals and sponge reefs, incorporate traditional ecological knowledge, develop information management and exchange standards, and accelerate progress in addressing coastal management issues.
  • Establish a federal network of MPAs that will strengthen and be managed within an integrated oceans management framework.
  • Develop a National (federal-provincial-territorial) marine protected area network in Canada's three oceans (target 2012).
  • Establish six new MPAs within the existing LOMAs and establish a national monitoring and reporting system for all Oceans Act MPAs.
  • Collaborate with World Wildlife Fund-Canada to encourage greater involvement by environmental non-government organizations(ENGOs) in the Health of the Oceans Initiative and integrated oceans management.
  • Develop a State of the Arctic Basin Report, use common ecosystem-monitoring strategies in shared and boundary waters, and initiate development of a demonstration project in the Beaufort Sea to test Ecosystem Based Management(EBM) in shared waters (2008-2009).
  • Through the Canada-US Gulf of Maine Steering Committee, build on the trans-boundary collaboration on and management of groundfish stocks; through the Gulf of Maine Council, build on co-operation between states and provinces. Advance Canada-US collaboration in the Gulf of Maine regarding integrated fisheries and oceans management. Support the work plan that DFO and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (USA) signed November 17, 2006.
  • Build linkages between integrated management carried out under the Health of the Oceans Initiative and other tools, such as project environmental assessments and strategic environmental assessments conducted under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Results Achieved 2008-09

Centres of Expertise (COEs) (HOTO #16)

The four centres were established and began operations. Work plans were developed with input from the Director General of Oceans and Regional Directors. Activities included presentations to provide context and background and to present the goals and objectives of the COEs; consultations to seek input on the proposed work plans; and participation in regional, national and international efforts as they related to the individual mandates of the centres.

MPA Implementation, Strategy and Network (HOTO #19, #13, #14)

A number of workshops contributed to preparation of the penultimate draft of the Federal Guide to Collaborative Planning of MPAs, which provides guidance for implementing a more systematic approach to MPA planning and establishment. The guide will be ready for approval early next fiscal year.

An agreement has been reached among partner government agencies that Canada's national network of MPAs will actually be a national system of bioregional networks of MPAs, and that national Science advisory processes would be followed to delineate those bioregional planning areas and to develop guidance on designing the networks. This national system will be developed in the context of integrated management (IM), and existing IM governance structures will be used where they exist (e.g., in Large Ocean Management Areas). An integrated management approach aims for a collective approach to MPA network development in order to contribute to broader conservation objectives and consider impacts on all aspects of an ecosystem.

An informal interdepartmental MPA network has been established to facilitate ongoing collaboration and exchange among federal MPA practitioners. DFO, EC and PCA also sought opportunities to jointly consult on establishment of new MPAs to limit duplication.

DFO regions of Quebec, Gulf, Newfoundland and Labrador, Central and Arctic and Pacific all conducted ecological and biological assessments followed by consultations. Preparation of the final reports and area of interest recommendations are in progress and should be announced in the next fiscal year. The Central and Arctic region is putting forward recommendations for two areas of interest.

As for the Maritimes region, consultation with Federal and Provincial partners took longer than anticipated and are still ongoing; this resulted in having to delay the public consultations on proposed AOIs until 2009-2010. It is currently anticipated that consultations with the public will begin in late summer or early fall 2009; this entails a likely recommendation to be put forward to the Minister no sooner than late fall 2009 or early winter 2010.

Collaboration with WWF (HOTO #17)

WWF has taken part in a number of DFO activities related to the Placentia Bay/Grand Banks Large Oceans Management Area operations in an effort to advance the oceans agenda and contribute to conservation and protection objectives. WWF-Canada participated by providing expert advice on activities such as the selection of areas of interest, the prioritization of conservation objectives, the development of social, economic and cultural objectives in an integrated management plan, stakeholder consultation process, and the development and subsequent implementation of a Cold Water Coral Conservation Strategy for the Newfoundland and Labrador Region.

Arctic Council (HOTO #15)

Activities conducted are part of a broader work plan under the Arctic Council's Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) Working Group; this model facilitates collaboration with relevant stakeholders as they relate to shared and boundary waters. The following activities were conducted in 2008-2009:

  • Review and validation of indicator suites to assess and monitor Arctic Ecosystems.
  • Finalized report on Best Practices in Ecosystem Based Management in the Arctic. A Canadian chapter is included. The report was approved and released at the Arctic Council's Ministerial meeting in early 2009.
  • Preliminary discussions were held between HQ and the Central and Arctic region to encourage involvement in the development of a pilot project to test the Large Marine Ecosystem approach and framework in Beaufort Sea in collaboration with the US.

Gulf of Maine (HOTO #18)

The Ecosystem Overview component of the report was jointly completed by DFO Maritimes and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Northeast Region. For each major section of the report, two lead authors - one from the US and one from Canada - were identified and collaborated in its development. Rather than the traditional approach of focusing on individual species or activities, the EO took a broader community approach and aimed to describe marine community structure and ecosystem linkages. The completion of the EO has ensured that a common understanding of the current ecological conditions in the Gulf of Maine was available to all interested organizations. The report will provide a common basis for planning and management activities as well as contribute to more effective and informed decision-making.

DFO has continued active participation in activities with both the Gulf of Maine Council and the CA-US Steering Committee and ensured that the relationships between Canadian and US federal departments as well as State and Provincial Governments are in place to facilitate ongoing collaborative activities.

Preliminary discussions with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Northeast Region have begun to explore the relationship between the US Northeast Region Oceans Council (NROC) and the Canadian Regional Committee on Oceans Management (RCOM). These will form the basis for establishment of more formal linkages, regional governance mechanisms and potential shared activities.

Integrated Oceans Management (HOTO #20)

Integrated Oceans Management approach and tools were presented to various stakeholders in an effort to raise awareness and streamline efforts. A report was also developed in an attempt to reconcile the terminology between Oceans Integrated Management and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Pathways of Effect National Working Group (PoE-NWG) was established and finalized the holistic Pathways of Effects model as well as established a sub-group to initiate the drafting of a guidance document for the development and use of pathways of effect (PoEs). Two draft Sector PoEs were developed: oil and gas, and shipping. Draft Terms of Reference for a pilot project (Marine Shipping) were developed in consultation with First Nations, the shipping industries, and federal partners.


($ thousands)
Federal Partners Federal Partner Program Activity (PA) Names of
Programs for
Total Allocation
(from Start to End Date)
Planned Spending for
Spending for
Fisheries and Oceans Oceans Management Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy Implementation in DFO 1,250.0 250.0 250.0
Development of a Federal-Provincial-Territorial MPA Network 2,500.0 525.0 525.0
Arctic Council - Ecosystem Projects 1,000.0 200.0 71.8
Oceans Centres of Expertise (Coastal, Corals, Data Integration, TEK) 3,000.0 700.0 880.8
Collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) 213.0 42.6 42.6
Gulf of Maine (at DFO) 750.0 250.0 227.0
Marine Protected Areas Establishment 5,250.0 1,350.0 1,255.7
Habitat Management Integrated Management and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act Assessment Tools Linkages 1,450.0 250.0 193.6
Science for Healthy and Productive Aquatic Ecosystems Ecosystem Science Support and Advice on Health of the Oceans 5,500.0 1,100.0 1,100.0
Canadian Coast Guard Spill Capacity and Emergency Response Strategy 2,260.0 750.0 267.2
Environment Canada Biodiversity and Corporate services Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy - Implementation in EC 1,250.0 250.0 103.8
Marine Wildlife Areas Establishment 2,000.0 507.0 To be
Improved knowledge and information on weather and environmental conditions influence decision making and Corporate services Sable Island Weather Station 4,000.0 800.0 800.0
Canadians adopt approaches that ensure the sustainable use and management of natural capital and working landscapes and Corporate services Gulf of Maine (at EC) 751.0 250.0 250.0
Parks Canada Agency Heritage Places Establishment Federal Marine Protected Area Strategy Implementation in Parks Canada 1,250.0 194.0 182.4
National Marine Conservation Area in Lancaster Sound 5,000.0 1,000.0 114.4
Transport Canada Transportation Safety and Security and Internal Services Enforcement of Ballast Water Regulations 4,500.0 966.5 966.5
Pollution Prevention - Surveillance 13,000.0 2,381.3 2,798.3
Pollution Prevention - Dash 7 Outfitting 5,000.0 1,600.0 1,378.9
Arctic International Marine Shipping Assessment 550.0 140.0 149.4
Pollution Prevention - Ship Waste Reduction Strategy 800.0 100.0 25.0
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Northern land Resources Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment/Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from land-based sources of pollution 175.0 75.0 73.5
Total 61,449.0 13,681.4 11,655.9

Comments on Variances:

Results to be achieved by non-federal partners (if applicable): —

Contact information:

Harvey Brodkin

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

200 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E6

Telephone: 613-991-6692