Oceans Integrated Management

The oceans, which cover approximately 70% of the world's surface, are a precious resource. They serve many functions, including: Storing and distributing heat energy, thereby regulating the earth's weather & temperature; hosting a vast variety of organisms; supplying a medium for the transport & trade of goods; and providing economic support for fishers & sustenance for millions.

The 1997 Oceans Act calls for the development and implementation of plans for the integrated management of all actions affecting estuaries, coastal and marine waters. Integrated oceans management is a continuous and dynamic process by which decisions are taken for the sustainable use, development and protection of marine areas and resources. This proactive strategy aims to bring together all stakeholders and decision-makers to reach a consensus on the most appropriate approach to promote both sustainable economic development and conservation of our oceans.

The 2002 Canadian Oceans Strategy and Oceans Action Plan provide direction on a number of approaches planned to address pollution, create Marine Protected Areas, and promote awareness & international collaboration. It also calls for enhanced development of scientific knowledge in order to better understand marine ecosystems and thereby facilitate knowledge-based policies and decision-making.

Environmental Science at DFO helps to achieve the goals of the Oceans Action Plan and its integrated oceans management approach by providing clear, reliable and peer-reviewed scientific information to formulate advice for the management of the large oceans management areas (LOMAs):

This requires that existing scientific information be assembled, analyzed, and synthesized to develop an ecosystem overview report (EOR) for each LOMA. We are responsible for the coordination of the peer-review of the EORs to assess and verify that the conclusions drawn are supported by existing data and thus are scientifically valid. In addition, it is the responsibility of Environmental Science to ensure that the ecosystem objectives developed from the EORs are based upon a solid scientific foundation of knowledge and analysis.

We are also responsible for developing criteria for the accurate identification of ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs). Accurate identification of these areas is essential to the integrated management of Canada's oceans. EBSAs are particularly important due to their ecosystem structural or functional properties. The identification and mapping of the EBSAs within the vast marine ecosystems depends on comprehensive scientific knowledge and accurate science-based advice.

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