Canada’s estuaries, coasts and oceans are the focus of major economic activity, and are an integral part of the country’s culture and identity. The coastline of Canada is the longest of any in the world, and its seabed represents an area two-thirds the size of its landmass.Oceans support commercial, recreational and Aboriginal fisheries, oil and gas exploration and development, marine recreation and tourism, aquaculture, shipping and transportation, and a variety of other economic uses that directly contribute over $20 billion a year to Canada’s economy. Oceans also support high technology and pharmaceutical industries, potential mining opportunities, and scientific and technical research.

The Oceans Act calls on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to lead and facilitate the development of a national oceans strategy that will guide the management of Canada’s estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems. Canada’s Oceans Strategy provides the overall strategic framework for Canada’s oceans-related programs and policies, based on the principles of sustainable development, Integrated Management and the precautionary approach. The central governance mechanism of the Strategy is applying these principles through the development and implementation of Integrated Management plans.

The Policy and Operational Framework for Integrated Management of Estuarine, Coastal and Marine Environments in Canada is intended as a working document for Canada’s oceans community. It is intended to foster discussion about Integrated Management approaches by setting out policy in the legislative context, along with concepts and principles. The document also proposes an Operational Framework with governance, management by areas, design for management bodies and the type of planning processes that could be involved.

— Excerpt from the report’s executive summary