Mandate and role

Canada is uniquely blessed with an abundance of freshwater and marine and coastal areas that are ecologically diverse and economically significant. The core business of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, managing Canada’s fisheries and safeguarding its waters, is central to who we are as a Department. Our work is part of the daily lives of Canadians.


In over 400 locations across Canada, the employees of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard carry out important work and deliver real results to Canadians. This work is centered on four core responsibilities:

Each responsibility calls for science-based decision-making, engagement with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples and reliance on the Canadian Coast Guard fleet as a platform for our on-water activities.

For a detailed inventory of programs and services that support these core responsibilities, see our Departmental Results Framework and Program Inventory.

Departmental priorities and mandate commitments

DFO is responsible for meeting Government of Canada priorities and our departmental mandate commitments, which are outlined in our Minister’s Mandate Letter.

Important examples of departmental priorities and mandate commitments include:

For a status report on how Fisheries and Oceans Canada and other government departments are meeting their commitments and delivering results for Canadians, see the Mandate Letter Tracker.

Key legislation

Our Department’s work is supported by the following key pieces of legislation: