Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Oceans Act, Canada, Ocean Policy, Aboriginal Rights, Ocean Management


The Oceans Act of Canada sets out a broad framework for the unified management of Canada’s oceans based on an ecosystem approach. In particular, the Oceans Act calls on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to lead and facilitate the development of a national strategy to guide the management of Canada’s estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems. The Oceans Act also reflects awareness that aboriginal rights may affect the development or implementation of policy surrounding oceans management. For example, s. 2(1) of the Act states that “. . . nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.” The Oceans Act also provides for collaboration with aboriginal organizations in the development and implementation of a national strategy and plans for integrated management of all activities affecting estuarine, coastal and marine waters, and provides for the possibility of aboriginal participation on certain advisory or management bodies, thus creating an opportunity for aboriginal input into Canada’s ocean policy in the future.