Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, frequently referred to as Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), is the department within the government of Canada that is responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs in support of Canada's economic, ecological and scientific interests in oceans and inland waters. Its mandate includes responsibility for the conservation and sustainable use of Canada's fisheries resources while continuing to provide safe, effective and environmentally sound marine services that are responsive to the needs of Canadians in a global economy. The stated vision of the department is "Excellence in service to Canadians to ensure the sustainable development and safe use of Canadian waters."

The federal government is constitutionally mandated for conservation and protection of fisheries resources in all Canadian fisheries waters. However, the department is largely focused on the conservation and allotment of harvests of salt water fisheries on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts of Canada. The department works toward conservation and protection of inland freshwater fisheries, such as on the Great Lakes and Lake Winnipeg through cooperative agreements with various provinces. Provincial governments have enacted provincial fisheries legislation, for the licensing of their fisheries. With the exception of Saskatchewan, conservation rules for freshwater fisheries are enacted under the Fisheries Act; six provinces administer these regulations in their own fisheries.

To address the need for conservation, the department has an extensive science branch, with research institutes across the country. Typically the science branch provides evidence for the need of conservation of various species, which are then regulated by the department. DFO also maintains a large enforcement branch with peace officers (known as Fishery Officers) used to combat poaching and foreign overfishing within Canada's Exclusive Economic Zone.

DFO is responsible for several organizations, including the Canadian Coast Guard, the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation and the Canadian Hydrographic Service.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Pêches et Océans Canada
Pêches et Océans Canada
Department overview
TypeDepartment responsible for
  • Sea Coast and Inland Fisheries
  • Fisheries Science
  • Habitat Management
  • Fisheries Enforcement
  • Small Craft Harbours
  • Marine Mammals
  • Hydrography
  • Oceanography
  • Coast Guard
  • Marine Search and Rescue
  • Aids to Navigation
  • Icebreaking
  • Marine Radio
Minister responsible
Deputy Minister responsible
  • Timothy Sargent [1]


The Department of Marine and Fisheries was created on July 1, 1867, although it did not receive legislative authority until May 22, 1868. The department's political representative in Parliament was the Minister of Marine and Fisheries, with the first minister having been the Hon. Peter Mitchell. The department was headquartered in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill until the disastrous fire of 1916, after which it was moved into the West Block and then off Parliament Hill entirely when new government office buildings were constructed in Ottawa.


Fisheries Management heraldic badge worn by DFO fishery officers

The Conservation & Protection (C&P) program is responsible for fisheries enforcement [2]. The program ensures the conservation and sustainable use of Canada’s aquatic resources and the protection of species at risk, fish habitat, and oceans. C&P collaborates with a variety of domestic partners, including the Canadian Coast Guard, other federal departments, other levels of government, industry, First Nations communities, recreational fishing groups, and others. Internationally, C&P participates in or indirectly contributes to more than a dozen Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (e.g. Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization and the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission).

C&P promotes compliance with legislation, regulations and management measures through education and shared stewardship initiatives; conducts monitoring, control, and surveillance activities using surface vessels, aerial surveillance aircraft and land patrols; and manages major cases and special investigations. The program includes operational enforcement units in DFO's six regions, the National Fisheries Intelligence Service, the National Digital Forensics Service and Program & Operational Readiness.

Enforcement activities are conducted by three types of officials that are designated under the Fisheries Act, fishery officers, fishery guardians and fishery inspectors.

Fishery Officers are designated under section 5(1) of the Act and defined as peace officers under the Criminal Code (Canada) with authorities to enforce all provisions of the Act and other related acts (e.g. the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act [3]) and their regulations. Fishery officers are carry authorized defensive equipment, including a service firearm (as of April 2019, a Smith & Wesson model 5946 [4]), baton and pepper spray while in uniform and conducting operational enforcement activities [5]. There are currently more than 600 fishery officers serving in more than 100 detachments and offices across Canada. DFO's chief fishery officer is the Director General, Conservation & Protection; as of April 2019, the incumbent is Darren Goetze [6].

Fishery Guardians are also designated under section 5(1) of the Act and as peace officers but are not necessarily employed by the department. For example, a provincial conservation officer may be designated as a fishery guardian for the purpose of enforcing the Act. In general, fishery guardians cannot conduct a search unless authorized by a warrant or conditions are met under the warrantless search provisions of the Criminal Code. Under the Aboriginal Guardian Program, certain first nations may submit to the Minister to designate certain band members as guardians. In October 2017, DFO and the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute (NIFI) [7] launched a full and collaborative review of the Department’s Indigenous programs, including the Aboriginal Guardian Program [8].

Fishery Inspectors are designated under section 38(1) of the Act, specifically to enforce the pollution prevention sections of Fisheries Act. They are not peace officers and have limited powers vis-a-vis the other two designations [9]


DFO is organized into six administrative regions[10] which collectively cover all provinces and territories of Canada.

Region Name Area of Responsibility
Pacific British Columbia,
Central and Arctic Alberta,
Northwest Territories,
Quebec Quebec
Gulf Prince Edward Island,
Gulf of Saint Lawrence watershed (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia)
Maritimes Bay of Fundy watershed (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia),
Atlantic Ocean watershed (Nova Scotia)
Newfoundland and Labrador Newfoundland and Labrador


The department's responsibilities were described as follows:

Sea-Coast and Inland Fisheries, Trinity Houses, Trinity Boards, Pilots, Decayed Pilots Funds, Beacons, Buoys, Lights and Lighthouses and their maintenance, Harbours, Ports, Piers, Wharves, Steamers and Vessels belonging to the Government of Canada, except gunboats or other vessels of war, harbour commissioners, harbour masters, classification of vessels, examination and granting of certificates of masters and mates, and others in the merchant service, shipping masters and shipping offices, inspection of steamboats and board of steamboat inspection, enquiries into causes of shipwrecks, establishment, regulation and maintenance of marine and seamen hospitals, and care of distressed seamen, and generally such matters as refer to the marine and navigation of Canada.

Responsibility for the construction and operation of canals was given to the Department of Public Works at the time of Confederation, with the canals of the United Province of Canada having been previously operated by that colony's Department of Public Works.

Marine Service of Canada

In its early days, one of the department's most active agencies was the operation of the Marine Service of Canada, which became the forerunner to the Canadian Coast Guard, with vessels dedicated to performing maintenance of buoys and lighthouses. Whereas fisheries management wasn't as important as it became in the latter part of the 20th century, a major responsibility for the Department of Marine and Fisheries included the provisioning of rescue stations and facilities at the notorious shipwreck sites of Sable Island and St. Paul Island off Nova Scotia.

The department also had responsibility for overseeing the qualification of apprenticing sailors who desired to become mates or shipping masters, as well as several marine police forces, which attempted to combat illegal crimping (the trafficking of sailors in human bondage at major ports).

The foray into enforcement saw the department operate the "Dominion cruisers" which were armed enforcement vessels operating for the Fisheries Protection Service of Canada, a continuation of the Provincial Marine enforcement agencies of the British North American colonies. These ships, and other chartered schooners and the like, would cruise the fishing grounds off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, watching for violations within Canada's territorial sea, then only three nautical miles (6 km) from shore.

Naval service

Prior to the First World War, Canada had limited naval forces, with the majority of protection having been offered by the enforcement vessels of the Department of Marine and Fisheries (the Dominion Cruisers), and by Britain's Royal Navy.

In 1909-1910, the Department of Marine and Fisheries became linked to efforts to develop a Canadian naval force, when on March 29, 1909, a Member of Parliament, George Foster, introduced a resolution in the House of Commons calling for the establishment of a "Canadian Naval Service". The resolution was not successful; however, on January 12, 1910, the government of Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier took Foster's resolution and introduced it as the Naval Service Bill. After third reading, the bill received royal assent on May 4, 1910, and became the Naval Service Act, administered by the Minister of Marine and Fisheries at the time.

The official title of the navy was the "Naval Service of Canada" (also "Canadian Naval Forces"), and the first Director of the Naval Service of Canada was Rear-Admiral Charles Kingsmill (Royal Navy, retired), who was previously in charge of the Marine Service of the Department of Marine and Fisheries. The "Naval Service of Canada" changed its name to Royal Canadian Navy on January 30, 1911, but it was not until August 29, 1911 that the use of "Royal" Canadian Navy was permitted by King George V.

Departmental name changes

Since Confederation, the responsibilities of the original Department of Marine and Fisheries, namely the Fisheries Service and the Marine Service, have transferred among several departments. The formal name of the department is the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It is also referred to as "Fisheries and Oceans Canada" under the Federal Identity Program.

  • 1867 - 1884 Department of Marine and Fisheries
  • 1884 - 1892 Department of Fisheries
  • 1892 - 1914 Department of Marine and Fisheries
  • 1914 - 1920 Department of Naval Services
  • 1920 - 1930 Department of Marine and Fisheries
  • 1930 - 1969 Department of Fisheries
  • 1930 - 1935 Department of Marine*
  • 1969 - 1971 Department of Fisheries and Forestry
  • 1971 - 1976 Department of the Environment
  • 1976 - 1979 Department of Fisheries and the Environment
  • 1979 - 2008 Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • 2008–Present Fisheries and Oceans Canada

*In 1935, the Department of Marine was merged with the Department of Railways and Canals and the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of National Defence to form the Department of Transport, also known as Transport Canada.

Related legislation

Text of each law and its regulations can be found by entering the name of the law at the Canadian Legal Information Institute.

  • Canada Shipping Act
  • Canada Shipping Act, 2001
  • Coastal Fisheries Protection Act
  • Department of Fisheries and Oceans Act
  • Financial Administration Act
  • Fish Inspection Act
  • Fisheries Act
  • Fisheries Development Act
  • Fisheries Prices Support Act (repealed)
  • Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act
  • Freshwater Fish Marketing Act
  • Navigable Waters Protection Act
  • Oceans Act
  • Species at Risk Act

See also


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ Fishery Officer Career: Duties, Requirements and Conditions
  6. ^ [5]
  7. ^ [6]
  8. ^ [[
  9. ^ [7]
  10. ^ "Regions". Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Retrieved 23 January 2014.

External links

880 Naval Air Squadron

880 Naval Air Squadron was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm carrier based squadron formed in January 1941. The squadron served throughout the Second World War being embarked in the carriers HMS Furious, Indomitable, Argus and Implacable serving off East Africa, in the Mediterranean, off Norway and in the Far East. 880 Squadron was disbanded two weeks after VJ day at the Mobile Naval Air Base HMS Nabswick at Schofields, Sydney, Australia.The squadron was re-formed as an anti-submarine squadron of the Royal Canadian Navy in May 1951 and was renamed VS-880 following the USN naming convention in 1952. In March 1975 its role was significantly altered and the squadron was re-designated as 880 Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron under which name it served until CFB Summerside was closed in 1990. From 1981 onwards 880 Squadron provided support for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the government department responsible for managing Canada's ocean resources. 880's CP-121 Trackers were used to patrol Georges Bank and the Grand Banks of Newfoundland to monitor foreign fishing fleets. The squadron has never been officially disbanded and still exists as a "zero strength" unit.

Bedford Institute of Oceanography

The Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) is a major Government of Canada ocean research facility located in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. BIO is the largest ocean research station in Canada. Established in 1962 as Canada's first, and currently largest, federal centre for oceanographic research, BIO derives its name from the Bedford Basin, an inland bay comprising the northern part of Halifax Harbour, upon which it is located.

Spread out over 40 acres (160,000 m²) of a former Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) property near Shannon Park in Dartmouth, BIO consists of a series of interconnected buildings housing research labs and offices, as well as docks for Canadian Coast Guard and RCN research vessels.

As the federal government seeks to concentrate its operations in the Halifax Regional Municipality, BIO is being considered for additional office buildings to house other non-oceanographic and non-research organizations and their employees. As such, new buildings have been built for the Canadian Coast Guard as well as Environment Canada in recent years.

CCGS Cap Percé

The CCGS Cap Percé is one of the Canadian Coast Guard's 36 Cape class motor life boat.

She was scheduled to be stationed at a new Coast Guard station in Kegaska, Quebec, on the Gulf of St Lawrence.

Like her sister ships she will be staffed by a crew of four, two of whom will be Search and Rescue technicians.

According to Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada: "Given the intensive commercial fishing activities and the pleasure boat and ship traffic that characterize the area, Kegaska is a strategic location for a Canadian Coast Guard lifeboat station. Furthermore, this will allow us to consolidate our coverage in this critical sector of the Gulf of St. Lawrence."

CCGS Cape Discovery

The CCGS Cape Discovery is one of the Canadian Coast Guard's 36 Cape class motor life boat.`

She is stationed at Goderich, Ontario. At the vessel's official christening, on June 10, 2006, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada,

Loyola Hearn, said:"Having this state-of-the-art vessel for our personnel provides them with greater safety, as they aid those in distress -- very often in conditions that put their own lives at risk. With the cutter Cape Discovery, we are well positioned to respond to emergency calls, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week."

Canadian Coast Guard

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG; French: Garde côtière canadienne – GCC) is the coast guard of Canada. Formed in 1962, the coast guard is tasked with marine search and rescue, communication, navigation and transportation issues in Canadian waters, such as navigation aids and icebreaking, marine pollution response and providing support for other Canadian government initiatives. The coast guard operates 119 vessels of varying sizes and 22 helicopters, along with a variety of smaller craft. The Canadian Coast Guard is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, and is a special operating agency within Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Department of Fisheries and Oceans).

Canadian Coast Guard ship

The designation Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCGS; French: navire de la Garde côtière canadienne, NGCC) is applied as a prefix to vessels in the Canadian Coast Guard.

Prior to the formation of the Coast Guard in the 1960s ships operated by the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (now known as Fisheries and Oceans Canada) were named with either the CGS prefix for Canadian Government Ship (Le CGS in French) or DGS for Dominion Government Ship.

Canadian Hydrographic Service

The Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) is part of the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and is Canada's authoritative hydrographic office. The CHS represents Canada in the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).

Cumberland Sound beluga

The Cumberland Sound belugas are a distinct population of belugas residing in the Cumberland Sound region of the Labrador Sea off the coast of Nunavut, Canada Individuals of this population reside in the sound year-round, congregating in its extreme north exclusively at Clearwater Fjord during the summer for calving. The Cumberland Sound beluga population is considered fairly isolated and genetically distinct from other beluga populations, with a notable number of haplotypes and microsatellite loci not found elsewhere.

Huntsman Marine Science Centre

The Huntsman Marine Science Centre (acronym: HMSC; previously Huntsman Marine Laboratory) is located on Lower Campus Road in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. The centre is a membership-driven, nonprofit organization founded by a consortium of universities with the support of the National Research Council of Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the New Brunswick Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. W.D. Robertson is the Executive Director; Dr. W.B. Scott is senior scientist emeritus. It is named in honor of Archibald Gowanlock Huntsman, director of the St. Andrews Biological Station that adjoins the centre, who stimulated fishery research in the region.

Institute of Ocean Sciences

The Institute of Ocean Sciences is operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and is one of the largest marine research centres in Canada. It is located on Patricia Bay and the former British Columbia Highway 17A in Sidney, British Columbia on Vancouver Island just west of Victoria International Airport.

The institute is paired with a Canadian Coast Guard base, and makes use of the ships CCGS John P. Tully and CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier as well as the Japanese RV Mirai.

Maurice Lamontagne Institute

The Maurice Lamontagne Institute is a marine science research institute located in Mont Joli, Quebec and is part of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.[1]Researchers at the institute have access to the following vessels:

CCGS Calanus II

CCGS Frederick G. Creed

CCGS Martha L. Black

CCGS Alfred Needler

CCGS Hudson

CCGS Teleost

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard

The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, previously the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (French: Ministre des Pêches et des Océans), is the minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet who is responsible for supervising the fishing industry, administrating all navigable waterways in the country, and overseeing the operations of the Canadian Coast Guard and the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation.

The minister is the head of the federal government's marine department, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, often referred to by its older (and technical) name Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Mossom Creek Hatchery

Mossom Creek Hatchery is a salmon hatchery in Port Moody, British Columbia. It is a salmon enhancement project supported by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It was started in 1976 by high school volunteers from local Centennial School in Coquitlam and teachers Ruth Foster and Rod MacVicar. They formed the Centennial School Salmon project, which is still an active club at the school. It has received much recognition for its unique and longstanding work. Ruth Foster has won a Canadian Environment Award for her work at Mossom Creek Hatchery.When the hatchery began, there were no salmon left in Mossom Creek. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers over the decades there is now a strong run of chum salmon and an increasing run of coho salmon. The hatchery also supplies fish to other streams that drain into Burrard Inlet. By reintroducing these salmon, the hatchery strengthens the surrounding ecosystem at various trophic levels. Every year the hatchery releases approximately 100,000 chum fry into the area and approximately 7,000 coho smolts.

The hatchery is operated by Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society, a non-profit group, and relies on volunteers year round. They also work closely with other organizations such as the Pacific WildLife Foundation and the Port Moody Ecological Society. Eggs and milt are collected from chum and coho salmon in the fall and early winter from Mossom Creek, Noons Creek (in cooperation with the Port Moody Ecological Society), and sometimes other river systems such as the Indian River. The eggs are fertilized and placed in stacked incubators until they hatch. During the winter, eggs hatch into alevins which absorb their yolk sacks to become fry. Chum are released into the streams as large fry in the spring. Coho smolts that are a year old are also released, as the coho fry must spend an extra year in the hatchery's large rearing tubs.

Mossom Creek has been an absolutely pristine creek, and it is home to several other species of wildlife such as the coastal tailed frog and the American dipper. Black-tailed deer, black bear and bobcat also make their home within the watershed forest. Recently, upstream development on steep slopes in the Village of Anmore, has impacted the stream with heavy siltation. Much volunteer time has been directed at documenting and dealing with this issue. Another recent effect of upstream development can be see in recent water quality tests. These tests indicate that the levels of phosphates and nitrates have recently reached a detectable level.

Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre

The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Centre is a Government of Canada research facility and office complex located in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is primarily used by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Pacific Biological Station

The Pacific Biological Station (acronym: PBS) is located on Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Established in 1908, with the Rev. George William Taylor as its first director and sole employee, it is the oldest fisheries research center on the Pacific coast. Operated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the station forms a network with eight other scientific facilities.Together with the St. Andrew's Biological Station in New Brunswick, the Pacific Biological Station was designated a National Historic Event in 2011.

Port Alberni Mill

Port Alberni Mill is a pulp mill and paper mill located in the Canadian town of Port Alberni, British Columbia, on the edge of the Alberni Inlet. Part of Catalyst Paper, the mill has two paper machines which produce 340,000 tonnes annually. One machine produces 116,000 tonnes of directory paper, the other 224,000 tonnes of lightweight coated paper. The mill has 324 employees as of 2014.The mill was established by Bloedel, Stewart and Welch in 1946, originally operating only a kraft pulp mill. This came by after an injunction by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who prohibited the use of the sulfite process. In addition to being the first significant new BC mill in decades, it was the first BC mill to integrate residuals from sawmills. By way of merger, ownership passed to MacMillan Bloedel in 1951. The two paper machines were installed in 1957, at first producing newsprint. Ownership passed to Pacifica Papers in 1998, Norske Skog Canada in 2000 and Catalyst Paper in 2005.


SABS may refer to:

St. Andrews Biological Station, a Fisheries and Oceans Canada research centre

Sultan Abu Bakar School (SABS), Kuantan

Stabilizing Automatic Bomb Sight, a World War II bombsight used by the RAF Bomber Command

South African Bureau of Standards

Southern Appalachian Botanical Society

St. Andrews Biological Station

St. Andrews Biological Station (acronym: SABS; originally: Atlantic Biological Station) is a Fisheries and Oceans Canada research centre located on Brandy Cove Road in St. Andrews, New Brunswick.Along with the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, the Atlantic Salmon Federation, and the Charlotte County campus of the New Brunswick Community College, SABS is the core of a network of fisheries research and educational institutions in the area. SABS is Canada's first marine biological research station, having been established by the Department of Marine and Fisheries in 1899 as a temporary floating laboratory. The permanent station was officially established in 1908.

The current Director is Dr. Thomas W. Sephton. Dr. Robert Stephenson is the leader of its Gulf of Maine Section, while Dr. Peter Lawton, Director of the Centre for Marine Biodiversity, is a Research Scientist at SABS.

The Gully (Atlantic)

The Gully is a large underwater canyon in the Atlantic Ocean near the edge of the eastern continental shelf of North America. It is located east of Nova Scotia near Sable Island.

The Gully is 40 km long and 16 km wide and reaches depths of over 1 km. It is home to a resident population of Northern Bottlenose Whale, Purple sunstarfish and deep-sea coral. Other species of whales, dolphins, fish, squid and shrimp also live there.

In 2004, Canada designated The Gully a Marine Protected Area. Fisheries and Oceans Canada prohibit oil and gas exploration within this MPA.

Departments of the Government of Canada
Major agencies
Historic/defunct major departments
Regional and
Police Oversight
and Commissions

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