Bordered by oceans on three sides (Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific), Canada is a country with virtually unparalleled marine and coastal resources. Canada has the world's longest coastline and the second largest continental shelf. Stretched-out as a single continuous line, Canada's coastline would encircle the Earth more than six times. Forming a portion of this coastline are Canada's Arctic islands, the largest archipelago in the world.  Eight of Canada's ten provinces and all of its northern territories are coastal, as are many of its major cities. Approximately 23% of Canadians live in coastal communities.
Canada's coastal endowment has enormous potential to benefit both present and future generations. Coastal areas are crucial for transportation, fishing and aquaculture, recreation and tourism, and subsistence. In economic terms, substantial wealth is generated from Canadian marine resources. For residents of the coastal zone, however, its value in social, cultural, and spiritual terms far exceeds its economic worth. Today many of Canada's coastal riches are threatened. Pressures include increasing and competing demands for the resources themselves as well as from unrelated human developments, not only along and adjacent to the coast, on land and in the water, but even from global changes brought about by human activity many thousands of kilometers away (
As the federal lead agency for oceans, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) recognises the interests and roles of other federal departments, provinces and territories in the coastal zone. Under the authority of the Oceans Act, DFO is required to:
  • co-operate, prepare and disseminate, with stakeholders, educational materials and information to advance the understanding of coastal processes and ICZM;
  • co-ordinate the planning and management of its coastal regulatory activities with those of other regulatory authorities;
  • draw other stakeholders into the process to integrate the planning and management of their activities;
  • provide specialized information, scientific and technical advice and research on the coastal marine environment and its living resources required to develop integrated management plans; and
  • enforce environmental provisions under DFO author
Canada's Oceans Act and Integrated Management

Canada's Oceans Act calls on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to address the numerous and compelling problems and economic development opportunities facing Canada's coasts through the development of an Oceans Strategy. The Act further provides for the development and implementation, with stakeholders, of plans for the integrated management of activities in or affecting estuaries, coastal and marine waters.
Coastal zone management (CZM), though a relatively new concept in Canada, has become the dominant approach to coastal planning in the United States. Its saliency has much to do with the fact that it represents an acceptable blend of views of environmentalists and public administrators, especially those concerned with land use control and natural resource management problems in coastal areas. Although not aggravated to the same degree by urban congestion, these problems in Canada are becoming sufficiently serious to require a close look at the possible benefits of czm in this country. The timeliness of this concept is underlined by the fact that Canada has just entered the 'economic zone' phase of ocean management with the extension of its limits of national jurisdiction for fishery purposes to 200 miles.