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F Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom Oceans Policy

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The World's current approach to ocean policy and sustainable maritime development is based on two main International strategic foundations: UNCLOS and UNCED. Both if integrated they provide the basis for oceans governance and oceans policy frame work. They enable states to exercise and protect National's sovereign rights and jurisdiction over marine resources and offshore areas. At the same time they obligate states to ensure ocean uses are ecologically sustainable. The implementation of the provisions of UNCLOS, related Conventions, rules and standards relating to the protection and preservation of the marine environment and to the conservation and management of living marine resources, as well as the implementation of the commitments agreed to in Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, present some of the major challenges facing the international ocean community. These challenges cannot be met by one region, one State, one ministry, or one local community alone. It is therefore very important to strengthen cooperation and coordination at all levels. At the national level, the marine dimension must be integrated within the overall national policy. The adoption of an ocean policy is a very important mechanism to achieving an integrated, interdisciplinary, intersectoral and ecosystem-based approach to oceans management. A coherent legislative framework is also essential. However the development of this national oceans policy depends on every state situation. Vertical and horizontal integration between these two foundations, need a high political umbrella and a lead ministry for setting the national marine agenda. This agenda must be based on sound scientific priorities development plan required for understanding how best to protect National's marine biological diversity, the ocean environment and its resources, and on a wide consultation process with all stakeholder. Comparative analysis of the development process of national ocean policy in major maritime nations such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, shows in spite of the fact that Agenda 21 has provided a clear defined programme and management activities, each country have followed a different approach in developing its national oceans management strategy. All of them have used these two international foundations and their guiding principles in developing their oceans policies. These approaches are integrated in content and are precautionary and anticipatory in ambit, as required by UNCLOS and as reflected in the Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 programme areas. The first programme in chapter 17 is "Integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas, including exclusive economic zones." (Agenda 21, 1992). To this end, and according to Chapter 17 the state should establish the necessary strengthening appropriate coordinating mechanisms (such as a high-level policy planning body) (Agenda 21, 1992). It further states "Such mechanisms should include consultation, as appropriate, with the academic and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, local communities, resource user groups, and indigenous people." Also coastal states are required "to improve their capacity to collect, analyse, assess and use information for sustainable use of resources, including environmental impacts of activities affecting the coastal and marine areas. Information for management purposes should receive priority support in view of the intensity and magnitude of the changes occurring in the coastal and marine areas." Other related management activities include:

  1. Preparation and implementation of land and water use and sitting policies;
  2. Implementation of integrated coastal and marine management and sustainable development plans and programmes at appropriate levels;
  3. Preparation of coastal profiles identifying critical areas, including eroded zones, physical processes, development patterns, user conflicts and specific priorities for management;
  4. Prior environmental impact assessment, systematic observation and follow-up of major projects, including the systematic incorporation of results in decision-making;
  5. Contingency plans for human induced and natural disasters, including likely effects of potential climate change and sea level rise, as well as contingency plans for degradation and pollution of anthropogenic origin, including spills of oil and other materials;
  6. Improvement of coastal human settlements, especially in housing, drinking water and treatment and disposal of sewage, solid wastes and industrial effluents;
  7. Periodic assessment of the impacts of external factors and phenomena to ensure that the objectives of integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas and the marine environment are met;
  8. Conservation and restoration of altered critical habitats;
  9. Integration of sectoral programmes on sustainable development for settlements, agriculture, tourism, fishing, ports and industries affecting the coastal area;
  10. Infrastructure adaptation and alternative employment;
  11. Human resource development and training;
  12. Public education, awareness and information programmes;
  13. Promoting environmentally sound technology and sustainable practices;
  14. Development and simultaneous implementation of environmental quality criteria.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands at a cross road. The Kingdom has the opportunity to develop its maritime sector and sustainably manage national marine resources. The status of national marine resources and governance is not good; marine resources are degraded and marine governance is inadequate. This indicates that an urgent action is needed to save the threatened national seas and opportunities. As has been highlighted and underlined in previous chapters, Saudi Arabia marine governance must be reorganized under one document: a comprehensive National Marine Policy. Comprehensive national marine policies are a relatively new trend in ocean governance. As implied they address all marine and coastal issues. NMPs are a response to the sectoral fragmented approach currently dominating marine governance which often leads to unorganized management and authority as new responsibilities are delegated to different agencies as they arise. In addition to incorporating all marine and coastal issues, NMPs seek to integrate all levels of governance: local, provincial, national, regional and international. The term "integrated management" is used to describe this approach. Although many countries and regions have created comprehensive marine or ocean policies, I focus on marine policy development process and governance as developed and experienced in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom for two reasons: First they represent the first three leading countries in the world that have developed comprehensive ocean policy and governance framework and is being implemented and tried to differing levels of success; Canada enacted the Oceans Act of 1996 followed by the release of Australia's Ocean Policy in 1998. Great Britain followed in May 2002, with Safeguarding Our Seas: A Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of our Marine Environment. Each country has followed a different policy route to sustainable oceans development. While Australia has followed a totally pure policy frame work by providing a new structure, mechanism and policy guidance for delivering its comprehensive national oceans policy; Canada followed a different approach by first providing a comprehensive legal framework for oceans uses and resources management within Canada' different maritime zones including the 200nm EEZ and continental shelf, second by producing Canada Oceans Strategy in July of 2002. The United Kingdom has followed a totally different approach by first developing a conservation strategy followed by introducing a single piece of legislation to protect the marine environment by enacting in 2009 the Marine and Coastal Act. Second, the three countries have developed their policies in accordance with Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 and based on the 1994 United Nation's Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Being the world leaders in oceans policies, I focus on oceans policy development process in these three countries as examples; their successes and leadership role in oceans policy can guide the creation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National Marine Policy.

Comparative Overview of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom oceans policy


  1. Initiation Process:

Australia is the first country to set in place a policy framework for an integrated and ecosystem based planning and management for all of Australia's marine jurisdictions. With the release of Australia's Oceans Policy (AOP) in 1998, Australia has demonstrated a world leadership by implementing a coherent, strategic planning and management framework for dealing with complex issues confronting the long term future of Australia's oceans (AOP1, 1999). AOP was initiated by a political announcement from the prime minister, followed by a wide public consultation process using a consultation document (Oceans- New Horizon). AOP process was initiated by the end of 1995 when the Prime Minister at that time announced that the Commonwealth government had agreed to the development of an "integrated oceans strategy" that would deal with the management of Australia's marine resources (AOP, 1998). However, due to the federal election and change of government little progress was achieved, but in 1996 the new government announced that it would continue developing the oceans policy as being an "environmental protection policy" and transferred the responsibility for developing the policy agenda from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Department of Environment, Sport and Territories (DEST) (Bateman, 1997). Later on the name of this department has been changed to the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) charged with protecting and conserving Australia's natural environment and cultural heritage.

  1. Lead Ministry:

In 1996 the new Australian government announced that it would continue developing the oceans policy as being an "environmental protection policy" and transferred the responsibility for developing the policy agenda from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) (Vince, 2003). As a result of the transfer of responsibility for oceans policy development, Australia Environment Minister led the process by establishing an intergovernmental committee to assist with the preparation of the policy (Vince, 2003). Using the collaborative arrangements and formal intergovernmental linkages, the Minister established a committee encompassing members from major Commonwealth agencies involved in marine affairs. Also a number of other committees were formed during these early stages of development to assist with the development of a discussion paper (Vince, 2003). The Committee has prepared the Oceans-New Horizon paper which has been launched in March 1997 to assist in the first consultations round with State, Territory and Local governments, peak bodies and organizations and the general public. The New Horizon set out a draft vision, goal and objectives for Australia' Oceans Policy and an indication of some of the broad issues relevant to an Oceans Policy as well as briefly introducing some of the features of Australia oceans (New Horizon, 1997).

  1. Consultation Process:

After the publication of the New Horizon paper a second round of consultation begun through a public forum to review the draft policy paper (MAGOP, 1998). During this process, Environment Australia organised public forums where the public could get an overview of the Issues Paper and to provide comment. The forums consisted of two parts, the first part included a formal briefing from Environment Australia officials while the second component was an information session organised by the state branches of the Marine and Coastal Communities Network (MCCN) (Vince, 2003).

  1. Maritime Ministerial Board

Before the release of AOP the Australian Government established a Ministerial Advisory Group on Ocean Policy in 1997 to provide advice to the Minister for Environment and Heritage on the views of the broad range of stakeholders of the policy and any other issues the Group thought relevant to the development of the policy (AOP1, 1998). It has also been suggested that the MAGOP was established to gain the support of NGOs during the Policy process as well as to promote public awareness (Vince, 2003). Later on the MAGOP was replaced by a National Oceans Ministerial Board (NOMB) of key Commonwealth Ministers, chaired by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage (Foster, 2005). The task of the board is to drive the implementation of the AOP by overseeing regional planning processes, furthering policy development, overseeing cross sector coordination, setting priorities for program expenditure and coordinating the Oceans Policy with State governments (AOP1, 1998).

  1. Oceans Strategy:

Based on the wide policy consultation process Australia was quickly able to develop its sustainable National Ocean Policy and vision of "Healthy oceans: cared for, understood and used wisely for the benefit of all, now and in the future"(AOP1, 1998). The aim of the strategy is to overcome problems perceived to arise from a division of powers and responsibilities leading to jurisdictional overlap and inconsistencies in ocean management (Vince, et al. 2003). The strategy also intends to overcome the problems and limitations imposed by sector based management by supporting integration across sectors through regional marine planning. AOP came in two volumes (AOP1, 1998). The first volume targeted nine major objectives: "1) exercise and protect Australia's rights and jurisdiction over offshore areas, including offshore resources. 2) To meet Australia's international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international treaties. 3) To understand and protect Australia's marine biological diversity, the ocean environment and its resources, and ensure ocean uses are ecologically sustainable. 4) To promote ecologically sustainable economic development and job creation. 5) To establish integrated oceans planning and management arrangements. 6) To accommodate community needs and aspirations. 7) To improve expertise and capabilities in ocean-related management, science, technology and engineering. 8) To identify and protect Australia's natural and cultural marine heritage. 9) To promote public awareness and understanding" (AOP1, 1998). The key principles that were used in developing Australia ocean policy intrinsically; indigenous peoples' interests; stewardship ethic; intergenerational and social equity; ecologically sustainable use; conservation of biological diversity; participatory, transparent and accountable decision making and management; and integrated planning and management(AOP1, 1998).

  1. Ocean Action Plan:

The second volume of Australia's Oceans Policy complements the first volume of the Policy by outlining specific measures that are being or will be pursued by the Commonwealth across ocean sectors and interest(AOP2, 1998). The Specific Sectoral Measures volume is comprehensive in its scope, covering the major environmental, industry, community, research, scientific, international and defence interests that the Commonwealth has responsibility for in marine jurisdictions. The document has identified 390 commitments across those five broad areas and detailed implementation schedule of actions. The schedule identified organisations responsible for implementing actions, priorities, milestones and resourcing (AOP2, 1998). This detail facilitated the auditing of the Policy and contributed to an assessment of its effectiveness.

  1. New Institution

To implement AOP a National Oceans Office (NOO), was established to provide secretariat and technical support and programme delivery for oceans policy initiatives(AOP1, 1998). The NOO was responsible for coordinating the overall implementation and finalize the detailed implementation schedule of actions and further development of the Oceans Policy(AOP2, 1998). NOO also was responsible for coordination and distribution of information on oceans policy implementation and regional marine planning matters to all stakeholders(Addison and Chenko, et al. 2005). Other new institutions included the National Oceans Ministerial Board, Regional Marine Plan Steering Committees and the National Oceans Advisory Group (NOAG). In 2005 NOO lost its executive agency status and is now located within the Marine Division of the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH, 2005). The Minister of Environment and Heritage has the responsibility for NOO through the department and reports to Cabinet on its progress (Haward and Vince, 2006).

  1. Ocean Research Priorities Plan:

Whilst AOP development process was progressing, the Marine Science and Technology Working Group, comprising representatives of Australian Government marine science and related agencies, as well as State research institutions and non-government marine science interests; were working to develop Australia's Marine Science and Technology Plan (Alder, 2001). The government aimed to develop and release the Plan as a companion to Australia's Oceans Policy(Vince, 2004). The Marine scientific advisory committee was tasked with promoting coordination and information sharing between Government marine science agencies and across the broader Australian marine science community(AMSTP, 1999). The MSTC prepared a Marine Science and Technology Plan to provide a strategy, consistent with the Oceans Policy, for integrated and innovative science, technology and engineering. The Plan encompasses three major programs under each program multiple objectives(AMSTP, 1999): .

  • Understanding the Marine Environment ( 7 objectives)
  • Using and Caring for the Marine Environment ( 15 objectives)
  • Infrastructure for Understanding and Utilising the Marine Environment ( 6 objectives).
  1. Legislation:

        Australia Oceans Policy has established new institutions to oversee the implementation of the Regional Marine Planning process. The institutions have emphasised a departure from traditional sectoral arrangements whilst incorporating over 100 laws and policy instruments addressing aspects of the management of the marine environment and the legal jurisdictional framework established through offshore federalism(Haward and Vince, 2006). The Offshore Constitutional Settlement (OCS) returned the jurisdiction over 3nm from the low water mark to the states(Stark, 2004). OCS remains the primary intergovernmental arrangement governing ocean and marine resources in Australia and makes up the jurisdictional framework for the development and implementation of the Ocean Policy(Vince, 2004). Since Australia Ocean Policy has been developed as being an "environmental protection policy" the principal Australian legislation is the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999(cth) (EPBC Act)(Akwilapo, 2007). The EPBC Act and the associated Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2000 (EPBC Regulation) provide a national framework for Environment protection through focusing on protecting areas of national environmental significance and on the conservation of Australia's biodiversity (Akwilapo, 2007). On the other hand, a commitment to ecologically sustainable development and multiple use management is embedded within the Oceans Policy framework emphasising a commitment to, inter alia, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development's (UNCED) Agenda 21 principles and UNCLOS (Akwilapo, 2007).

  1. Integrated Marine Spatial Planning

The AOP emphasised that Australia' Regional Marine Plans is based on large marine ecosystems. This system helps to maintain ecosystem health and integrity while promoting multiple use of oceans by integrating sectoral commercial interests and conservation requirements. Australia approach to Integrated Ocean Planning and Management encompass the following(AOP2, 1998):

  • Development of a new institutional arrangement comprising the National Oceans Ministerial Board, the National Oceans Advisory Group and the National Oceans Office and Regional Marine Plan Steering Committees.
  • Providing policy guidance for oceans planning and management.
  • Regional Marine Plan, based on large marine ecosystems. The first plan was developed for the south-eastern region of Australia's EEZ.
  • Funds for National marine resource surveys; development of sustainability indicators and monitoring; and rapid assessments of the biological resources of Australia's oceans. The resulting information based was used to underpin effective regional integration for planning and management. These assessments also benefit industry by providing information on potential new resources such as deep-water fisheries and pharmaceuticals.
  • Development of National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.
  • Development of Marine Parks and World Heritage Areas.
  1. Maritime Safety and Environment Protection Plan

The Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) has developed a strategy to protect the marine environment from shipping operations through improved environmental management of shipping and related activities(Stark, 2004). The strategy encompass: designation of marine sensitive areas, promote improvement of waste reception facilities at ports, marinas and boat harbours, improve anti-fouling practices, management and piloting a national monitoring programme for marine debris, community and industry awareness, and support for the enhanced National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and Other Noxious and Hazardous Substances (the National Plan) (AOP1, 1998). Under the AOP the Government committed to enhance maritime safety and highlighted the importance of enhancing regional cooperative arrangement for search and rescue, development and implementation of search and rescue arrangements; implementation of the Global Maritime Distress Safety System(GMDSS), pursue consistent requirements for the use of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and maritime communications for small vessels(AOP2, 1998). To further ensure the Safety of Navigation, the Government committed to maintain efficient coast-effective maritime safety navigation services and infrastructure, expansion of the local area Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS) services; technological development in marine navigation, and involvement in the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities and other international forums to ensure global navigational safety policies, standards and new technologies(AOP2, 1998).

  1. Maritime Surveillance and Security Plan

To ensure that there is an effective and efficient surveillance capacity for Australia's marine jurisdictions and effective enforcement of national legislation throughout Australia's marine jurisdictions. Under the Oceans Policy the Australian government continued to pursue through the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and other; to increase action addressing illegal fishing in CCAMLR and adjacent waters; increased surveillance and enforcement measures in the Great Barrier Reef; continued to cooperate to review and rationalise effort involved in and capacity for surveillance and enforcement including reviewing legislation relating to enforcement in Australia's marine jurisdictions(AOP2, 1998). The Oceans Policy highlighted that the Australian Defence Force's (ADF) tasks encompass safeguarding these areas, controlling of maritime approaches to exercise and protect Australia's sovereignty and sovereign rights. This involve preparedness and contingency planning; maritime surveillance and response; fisheries law enforcement; search and rescue; hydrographic services; and the Australian Oceanographic Data Centre (AODC)(AOP2, 1998).

  1. Maritime Sector Development Plan

During AOP development process the Marine Industry Development Strategy was also announced. The Strategy highlighted what the Marine Industry is worth what should incur for further resourceful developments(AOP2,1998). It illustrated that 90 per cent of Australia's oil and gas is sourced offshore; that the shipbuilding industry supplies one third of the world's high speed ferry market; wild capture fisheries represent a major primary industry; and that marine tourism is a booming industry(Vince, 2004). The Specific Measures Volume of Australia Oceans Policy underpinned several challenges facing the maritime sector and the various activities such as : fisheries; aquaculture; offshore petroleum and minerals; shipping; marine tourism; marine construction, engineering and other industries; pharmaceutical, biotechnology and genetic resources; and alternative energy resources. For meeting these challenges the policy proposed numerous activities under each one of them. For example to meet the shipping sector challenge to increase trade and regional development by delivering safe, efficient, competitive and environmentally responsible maritime infrastructure and shipping services(AOP2, 1998). The policy identified measures including: regulatory reform of the maritime sector with a view to removing barriers to competition, rationalise jurisdictional arrangements, harmonise standards and promote mutual recognition; and encourage continuous improvements in shipping and waterfront sectors to enhance the competitiveness of Australian trade and industry; to continue Australia leading role in international trade and maritime forums to ensure access to competitive and efficient international shipping services is maintained(AOP2, 1998).

  1. Marine Education and Training Plan

Under Australia's Marine Science and Technology Plan, NOO is responsible for providing advice to the Ministerial Board on marine research priorities relevant to the Oceans Policy to ensure that the marine research agencies are kept informed of the Government's emerging priorities(TFG, 2002). The NOMB is responsible to consider Government priorities for publicly funded marine research related to the implementation of the Oceans Policy including: community capacity building, networking opportunities, and community participation in marine management, research and monitoring and data collection; and provide opportunities for community representation on consultative committees in regard to marine resource management, the establishment of a new marine science research and teaching centre at Coffs Harbour; support for the Australian, Pacific and Global Oceans Observing Systems; establishment and operation of a Regional Office of the International Oceanographic Commission in Perth, Western Australia; provision of quality maritime education and research; and training and employment in jointly managed parks; development of a long term marine education policy and programme for kindergarten to year 12 to be incorporated in curricula in all States and Territories; development of relevant resource materials for use in schools and Technical and Further Education colleges in cooperation with professional bodies; and support for the provision of quality practical educational material for teachers and students(AMSTP, 1999).

  1. National Maritime Information Center

To improve monitoring and understanding of marine ecosystems and the impacts of resource use Australia government has developed the Australian Coastal Atlas, within the Environmental Resource Information Network (ERIN), to allow general access to adequate information for community involvement in oceans management as a fundamental element of the Australian Spatial Data Infrastructure(AOP2, 1998). Thus, the Australian government provided support for the Marine and Coastal Community Network to develop a comprehensive communication strategy to assist the public, industry and governments learn about and understand the role of Australia's Oceans Policy. Also the government supported the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group (AUSLIG's) continuing development of the Australian Maritime Boundaries Information System as a national database of Australia's maritime jurisdictional boundary data to provides Australia's with an independent and scientifically credible information on Australia's environment for decision-makers and the wider community(AOP2, 1998). AUSLIG is the Commonwealth focal point for coordination of geodetic information and works closely with State and Territory agencies, the Inter-governmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) and industry groups towards the provision of the highest quality geodetic infrastructure(AUSLIG, 2009). Moreover, AUSLIG's under the ocean policy is responsible for the development of a coordinated observations and methods to analyse and interpret the data that will make optimum use of information from remote and in situ measurements at the space and time scales required for effective monitoring, use, management and conservation(AOP2, 1998). It is clear that the lack of a comprehensive system of monitoring sites, and lack of long-term commitment to monitoring inshore and offshore, particularly on the scale of large marine ecosystems has affected Australia ability to assess changes in the condition of the marine environment. Thus, AOP recognized that Integration of coastal, inshore and offshore monitoring activities is vital to National capacity for future assessments and maintenance of marine and coastal environments(AOP1, 1998).

  1. National Oceans Forum

To provide for Community representation and participation, the AOP established a National Oceans Advisory Group as a non-government consultative and advisory body to the National Oceans Ministerial Board(AOP1, 1998). The NOAG is responsible for promoting strategic management of the ocean environment and its resources; to provide opportunities for community representation on consultative committees in regard to marine resource management and facilitate consultation with peak indigenous groups on the requirements for establishing a national consultative mechanism, such as an annual forum(AOP1, 1998). Thus, to promote implementation of Australia Oceans Policy, the policy called for holding a National Oceans Forum to coordinate across the agencies responsible for the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and a broad national cross-section of those with a stake in the management of Australia oceans(IOC, 2007).

  1. International Cooperation:

Given the dynamic nature of the marine environment, AOP recognized that the effective implementation of the Oceans Policy requires cooperation with immediate neighbours and other countries to address the transboundary impacts and improve regional cooperation on ocean issues(AOP1, 1998). Thus, AOP called for: peaceful use of the oceans and cooperation in access for national and international scientific research and monitoring programmes; cooperation with neighbouring countries and with industries to maximise resources; improved cooperation and coordination between existing coastal monitoring and state of the environment reporting programmes; sharing information and extending enforcement and surveillance cooperation with regional and global agencies; establishment of observing systems of regional interest and to promote international management and research programmes with other Southern Hemisphere countries(AOP2, 1998). The policy also highlighted the need to improve regional cooperation on ocean issues such as pollution prevention, fisheries management and marine protected areas; International actions to reduce excess capacity in the global fleet through the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum(AOP2, 1998).

  1. Funding:

Finally, to give this comprehensive national marine plan and programs a life the Government of Australia has provided generous fund to the policy development process including: A$50 million for the development and implementation, A$1.8 million for the development of National Coastal Policy, the provision of $80 million from the Federation Fund for the development of a heavy industrial and marine fabrication complex at Jerois e Bay, in Western Australia(AOP1and 2, 1998). Also the Commonwealth has committed $60 million for a grants programme for the commercialisation of renewable energy technologies and for venture capital funding of small innovative companies that are developing such technologies, the government has also increased funding to accelerate declaration and management of marine protected areas and for infrastructure at selected sites to develop best practice demonstrations for waste reception facilities, and promoting the best practice demonstration facilities(AOP2, 1998).


By contrast Canada has followed a different route to ocean policy using the legislative approach, the Government of Canada brought the Oceans Act into force on January 31, 1997 making Canada the first country in the world to have a comprehensive oceans management legislation. Canada Ocean Act was "enacted by Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada Parliament wishes to reaffirm Canada's role as a world leader in oceans and marine resource management. The Act confirms Canada's role with respect to oceans management, specifying the need to integrate marine conservation with development activities.

The key objectives of Canada's Ocean's Policy include: to understand and protect the marine environment, support of sustainable economic opportunities and international leadership on ocean's policy. However, despite the deference between Australia and Canada in their approach in initiating and developing national oceans policy, there are some similarities between them most importantly is both are aimed at providing an integrated oceans governance based on UNCLOS and UNECD "Agenda 21" also both countries used the integrated marine spatial planning and the concept of large marine areas ecosystems system as a tool to determine the management and conservation requirements of each marine region, including the establishment of marine protected areas, prevention of potential conflict between sectors in relation to resource allocation and provision of long term security to all ocean users.

  1. Canada Oceans Policy development process:

The Oceans Act provides the legislative foundation for Canada's Oceans Strategy and policy. It provides the necessary infrastructure to move forward with a modern oceans governance framework by:

  • defining maritime territory in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), including the declaration of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ);
  • assigning a leadership role to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in the stewardship of Canada's oceans, and the development of a national strategy for the management of all activities in or affecting estuarine, coastal and marine areas; and
  • clarifying and consolidating federal oceans management and responsibilities, as well as oceans responsibilities not otherwise assigned.

Canada's oceans policy process effectively begun in 1994, one year before Australia, when Canada' Prime Minister accepted a recommendation from the National Advisory Board on Science and Technology on Oceans and Coasts' to formulate an overall Oceans Policy Framework and develop ocean focused legislation (Foster, 2005; et al.) Following this recommendation, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) released a discussion paper, A Vision for Oceans Management in May 1994, which supported the concept of an Oceans Act and the development of a national oceans management strategy (OAG, 2005). Subsequently a process of consultations involving both those inside and outside of government resulted in Bill C-26 - An Act respecting the Oceans of Canada - in 1996. Bill C-26 attained royal assent in December 1996 and came into force in 1997 (COA, 1996). The Act is' a statute which formulates, in a comprehensive way, how Canada's oceans are to be defined and managed.

The policy vision is "To ensure healthy, safe and prosperous oceans for the benefit of current and future generations of Canadians".

  1. Lead Ministry

For that end Canada Oceans Act COA assigned the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to lead the development process of a national oceans management strategy guided by the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary approach and integrated management (COA, 1996). COA gave a central role to the DFO in all oceans issues and it situated the management of existing resource, scientific, hydrographic, coast guard and other responsibilities of the oceans management context within the DFO (COA, 1996).

  1. Consultation process:

Canada' Oceans policy development process passed through two main public engagement and consultation processes (Mageau, 2005). The first one, focused on the Vision for the Oceans Act; the other was a structured consultation on Canada's Oceans Strategy designed to solicit federal, provincial, First Nation and public input. The Fisheries and Oceans Department engaged the views and perspectives of Canadians for supporting a wide range of discussions, workshops and consultation activities across Canada (CSAS, 2001). The consultation process involved: information sessions for outlining the intent of the legislation, through normal parliamentary consultation procedures which involved formal publication of draft legislation by the House of Commons, as well as targeted consultations with affected parties, witnesses to the Parliamentary Review Process, including potentially affected stakeholders, environmental non-government organizations, Aboriginal authorities, coastal communities and academics served to broaden the scope of COA(DFO,2001). The Public comments on the Vision Paper served to form the basis of the draft legislation and have recommended to the Prime Minister that Canada move decisively to address environmental issues confronting oceanic areas and maximize the economic benefits that could be derived by managing ocean resources more sustainably. Specific recommendations focused on the need to develop a national strategy as well as legislation focused on the management of ocean and coastal spaces and resources (Mageau, 2005).

  1. Ministerial Maritime Board

Canada did not establish a National Oceans Ministerial Board but has established in 2001 an Ocean Task Group under the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers (CCFAM) to help develop and implement Canada's Oceans Strategy (OAG, 2005). At the same time Canada established a Minister's Advisory Council on Oceans (MACO) in 2000 to provide advice on oceans management policy issues and to help engage the public and sectors in issues related to oceans management (DFO, 2004). Furthermore, a system of interdepartmental committees for oceans encompassing four working groups, were established at the Deputy Minister, assistant Deputy Minister and program levels to aid federal government coordination to focus on the four "pillars" set out in the Oceans Action Plan: namely; International Leadership, Sovereignty and Security; Integrated Oceans Management for Sustainable Development; Health of the Oceans; and Oceans Science and Technology (Mageau, 2005).

  1. Oceans Strategy development process:

Canada Oceans Strategy was released to the public in 2002, more than five years after the enactment of the Oceans Act (COS, 2002). The Strategy, provides an overall strategic approach to oceans management, and has been developed based on the lessons learned and the issues identified through the federal government work with interested Canadians, oceans management initiatives on all three coasts, and Australia's Ocean Policy experience( Vince, 2008). It sets out the policy direction for oceans management in Canada and it defines the Vision, principles and policy objectives for the future management of Canada's estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems. The overarching goal of COS is "To ensure healthy, safe and prosperous oceans for the benefit of current and future generations of Canadians". As set out in the Oceans Act, the COS is based on the three principles: sustainable development, integrated management and the precautionary approach. These three principles guide all ocean management decision making in Canada. Also the strategy has identified three policy objectives or outcomes for the advancement of oceans management activities (COS, 2002): 1) Increase understanding and protection of the marine environment. 2) Support for sustainable economic opportunities. 3) Demonstrate international leadership in ocean management. To achieve those three objectives several activities were grouped under each objective. The DFO planned implementation of these activities through collaboration with local communities, industries, Aboriginal peoples, provinces and territories, environmental groups and other interests; share of responsibility for achieving common objectives; and engaging Canadians in oceans-related decisions in which they have a stake(COS, 2002). The Strategy proposes the use of new and existing mechanisms such as committees, management boards and information sharing to promote coordination in ocean management and seeks to implement a program of an Integrated Management planning to engage partners in the planning and managing of oceans activities(COS, 2002). Under the first objective, the strategy called for: improved scientific knowledge base for estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems; development of policies and programs aimed at marine pollution prevention; conservation and protection of the marine environment. For supporting sustainable economic opportunities objective the strategy identified the need for: sectoral measures to improve and support governance and management of marine industries; development of new and emerging opportunities for oceans industries and oceans-related coastal development; co-operation and co-ordination to support and promote business development in the oceans sector. To achieve international leadership objective the strategy emphasised: National sovereignty and security; promotion of international oceans governance; sharing experience, promotion of compliance and building capacity, in particular for developing nations (COS, 2002). On the other hand, to improve oceans governance the strategy called for stewardship and public awareness activities and the establishment of mechanisms and bodies for oceans co-operation and collaboration to promote Integrated Management planning for all Canada's coastal and marine waters. These activities provided a modern oceans management frame work required for integrating social and environmental information so that human activity is better factored into sound decision-making(COS, 2002).

  1. Canada Oceans Action Plan:

Canada created a new oceans governance arrangements, and ecosystem science approach to improve the management of the marine environment(COAP, 2005). Based on UNCLOS and the principle of integrated management agreed to in the 1992 UNECD "Agenda 21" and the long term value of sustainable development. In February 2005, Canada's Oceans Action Plan for Present and Future Generations was released. "The Oceans Action Plan responds to that commitment and advances the legislation and policy in place as well as the Government of Canada's commitment to smart regulation. The Oceans Action Plan articulates a government-wide approach to seize opportunities for sustainable development. The Plan serves as the overarching umbrella for coordinating and implementing oceans activities, and as the framework to sustainably develop and manage Canada oceans. Canada Oceans Action Plan is based on four interconnected pillars:

  • International Leadership, Sovereignty and Security;
  • Integrated Oceans Management for Sustainable Development;
  • Health of the Oceans; and
  • Ocean Science and Technology" (COAP, 2005).

The Action Plan' first pillar highlighted International Leadership, Sovereignty and Security as the essential base for ocean policy. The plan specified activities including joint ecosystem overview and objectives setting for integrated management planning in collaboration with the US in the Gulf of Maine; to address the challenges of the Arctic coastal and marine environment under the Arctic Marine Strategic Plan via the Working Group for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) of the Arctic Council which comprise eight countries; strengthening international fisheries and oceans governance. For enhancing Canada's maritime security a number of actions have been specified including: the development of surveillance, patrol and interdiction operations to combat overfishing to prevent virtual stock destruction; to protect economic security interests and sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring the seabed and managing the sustainable use of living and non-living natural resources over the full extent of Canada's extended continental shelf; and to work with regional partners to prevent ecological damage, map the area, and strengthen regional economies.

The second pillar in Canada Ocean Action Plan is the Integrated Ocean Management Plan for sustainable development. Canada has recognized that there are serious limiting factors that handicap Canada ocean economy. These factors include conflict of use, need for grounding decision making on sound scientific information, uncertainty and regulatory complexity, need for more funding to develop new economic opportunities and non consumptive uses of the marine environment. To over come these limiting factors, the Action Plan identified activities including: designation of five priority areas for the establishment of open collaborative ocean management arrangement including the establishment of ecosystem based approach. Also the Action Plan highlighted oceans management tools which include: review and assessment of scientific knowledge in 5 LOMAs; identification of areas and species requiring special management means in LOMAs; characterization of habitat in LOMA; ecosystem specific objectives EOs and possible regulatory options; documentation of value of activities and support of Integrated Management planning; engagement of affected parties in LOMAs and MPAs; development of agreements with provinces, territories and Aboriginal authorities on role and responsibilities; intergovernmental and stakeholder for LOMA planning and management.

The third pillar is oceans health and the quality of marine environment. Activities under this pillar include: implementation of Federal MPA Strategy to establish a network of key MPAs by 2007 including designation of key wildlife Areas and Migratory Birds Sanctuary; Development of tools including selected criteria for Ecologically and Biological significant areas; Science support and completion of Ballast Water and Marine Pollution Regulations; Increased surveillance for preventing Sea Based Sources of Pollution.

The fourth pillar encompass activities such as: support for technology networks and research priorities; stronger ecosystem based science and the need for deployment of modern technology to support oceans understanding and awareness, and monitoring and management regionally and nationally; using the integrated planning, effective regulatory measures to protect the ocean resources against over harvest, as well as environmental degradation and protection measures; designation of marine protected areas.

  1. New institution:

Canada the Oceans Strategy builds upon the Oceans Act and has established a new legislative and policy framework to modernize oceans management(COAP, 2005). Under the Ocean Act: instead of establishing a new institution or organization for the Oceans Integrated Management, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans been assigned as the lead Ministry for oceans stewardship and the management of all activities in or affecting estuarine, coastal and marine areas and the development of a national strategy (Stark, 2004). To achieve the Act objectives the government has made an internal legislative reform to the functions and role of the DFO and other related Departments(DFO, 2008). For example the full management of the shipping sector including marine safety and security; vessels and port operations and environment protection was under the responsibility of the Department of Transportation Minister(Shipping Act, 2001). This highlighted clear conflicts between the two Departments responsibilities and called for major gradual amendments to Canada' Shipping Act started by amending the Shipping Conferences Exemption Act of 1987 and enacting the Shipping Act of 2001 the Act then has been consolidated as a statute in June 2009 to allow for the co-management of the shipping sector between the two departments. On the other hand, under the Oceans Strategy, oceans governance encompass three specific areas(COS, 2002). First, establishment of institutional governance mechanisms such as committees, management boards and information sharing to promote coordination in ocean management and enhance coordinated, collaborative decision-making across the federal government and with other levels of government. Second, establishment of advisory bodies to consider both the conservation and protection of ecosystems, while at the same time providing opportunities for creating wealth in oceans related economies and communities. Third, promoting stewardship and public awareness. This required a collaborative approach and a flexible and transparent planning process that respects existing divisions of constitutional and departmental authority and does not abrogate or derogate from any existing Aboriginal or treaty rights. The framework under the strategy involves an Integrated Management body composed of both governmental and non-governmental representatives with interests in a given ocean space(COS, 2002). The implementation of the new governance arrangements in Phase I of the Oceans Action Plan was aimed at: strengthening institutional arrangements at the national and regional level, strengthening relationships with Aboriginal people in oceans management, support for the Minister's Advisory Council on Oceans, support for the establishment of an Oceans Task Group under Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers, the use of other federal, provincial, territorial fora in relation to ocean management such as the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment; strengthening and expanding institutional arrangements to implement the Oceans Act responsibilities at the national and regional level; the use of the Government On-Line initiative as a tool to promote oceans management co-operation and collaboration( COS, 2002).

  1. Ocean Research Priorities Plan:

Canada did not prepare an Oceans Research Priorities Plan (ORPP) to focus on issues in key areas of interaction between society and the ocean as well as to provide guidance on how ocean science sectors (government, academia, industry, and non-governmental organisations) can be engaged or how to address the research priority areas to ensure that the management, use and protection of the ocean ecosystem is based on the best available scientific evidence. Instead, DFO prepared the 2005 Strategic Plan "Our Waters, Our Future", to guide the work of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) over a period of five years(DFO, 2005). The Plan outlines DFO's vision, objectives, priorities and activities from a sectoral view. It confirms DFO's mission to deliver to Canadians: safe and accessible waterways, healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems, and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. It has set out two objectives for the Department:

  • Deliver programs that reflect the priorities of Canadians and are part of a fully integrated policy approach.
  • Support DFO's dedicated, professional workforce by equipping it with the tools it needs

Under the first objective DFO aimed at renewing its science program to enhance delivery of scientific information, advice and services in support of better policy development and decision-making and improved service to Canadians(DFO, 2005). The work on science renewal included two major initiatives: strategic and operational planning and program re-engineering and realignment(DFO, 2005). The Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) coordinates scientific issues for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The different Regions of Canada conduct their resource assessment reviews independently, tailored to regional characteristics and stakeholder needs. CSAS function is to facilitates these regional processes, fostering national standards of excellence, and exchange and innovation in methodology, interpretation, and insight. CSAS works with the Regions to develop integrated overviews of issues in fish stock dynamics, ocean ecology and use of living aquatic resources, and to identify emergent issues quickly. CSAS also coordinates communication of the results of the scientific review and advisory processes(CSAS, 2009).

  1. Legislation and Regulations:

In Canada there are a complex web of laws and regulations governing Canada' oceans and they are managed by several levels of government(COS, 2002). This has called for developing a unified vision and integrated approach to oceans management that effectively considers the impact of individual sector activities on each other, and the oceans as a whole. Through the Oceans Act, Canada was the first country in the world to adopt comprehensive oceans management legislation ( Parkes and Manning, 1998). The Government of Canada considers the Oceans Act as representing a global benchmark for oceans legislation(COS, 2002). For Conservation and protection of the marine environment the Oceans Strategy provides support for new legislation, regulations and policies and programs aimed at protecting marine species at risk(COS, 2002). For example the Government of Canada has introduced a Bill to allow Canada to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Bill is designed to make the enforcement of marine pollution cases more effective to better protect its marine environments and send a strong message to polluters(COAP, 2005).

  1. Integrated Marine Spatial Planning System:

Canada has also established Large Ocean Management Areas (LOMAs)(COS, 2002). Under the Action Plan there are five LOMA where integrated oceans management plans are being developed for the management of each of these ocean area and for the identification of more LOMAs in the future to ensure integrated oceans management plans are in place for all of Canada's ocean areas(COAP, 2005). Under COA the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has a wide authorities for the designation of LOMAs and MPAs. Part II, s. 31-The Minister, in collaboration... shall lead and facilitate the development and implementation of plans for the integrated management of all activities or measures in or affecting estuaries, coastal waters or marine waters... More further Part II, s. 32-For the purposes of the implementation of integrated management plans, the Minister: shall develop, implement and coordinate policies and programs and; may establish/recognize advisory or management bodies (COA, 1996). The first integrated ocean management plan developed in Canada by the DFO Maritimes' Oceans and Coastal Management Division was the Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Plan (ESSIM)(COAP, 2005). The Plan came into existence after several public review and wide consultation process with the Stakeholder Advisory Council (SAC) representing all major ocean sectors and government agencies in the planning area; and the Senior Intergovernmental Regional Committee on Ocean Management(SIRCOM). Based on the generally positive feedback received, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans received in February 2007 endorsement for the Plan from both groups to be given status as an Integrated Management Plan under Section 31 of the Oceans Act (UNESCO, 2006). This plan is the product of an extensive collaborative and inclusive long planning process started in 1988. It has been shaped and accepted by stakeholders, supported and endorsed by government authorities, and formally recognized as Canada's first Integrated Ocean Management Plan under the Oceans Act of 1996 (UNESCO, 2006). Canada approach to integrated oceans management planning as highlighted by the ESSIM initiative encompass the following common process:

  • Definition of Integrated Management Area: To define ecosystem boundaries; compile ecological overview; existing & potential use audit; identify knowledge gaps; & issues.
  • Engagement of Interested Parties: People & commitment to cooperative actions.
  • Development of Integrated Management Plan: Planning bodies address issues & essential knowledge gaps; set goals, objectives & priorities; establish roles; & develop management plan.
  • Integrated Management Plan Implementation: Management body (regulators & others) commits to adopt and implement the plan.
  • Integrated Management Plan Monitoring and Evaluation: Monitor & revise plan as required
  1. Maritime Safety and Environment Protection Plan

Canada's Oceans Strategy responds to this requirement by providing policy direction for an integrated approach to ocean management, coordination of policies and programs across governments following an ecosystem approach to ocean resource management and environmental assessment(COS, 2002). Two specific elements are set out in the Oceans Act understanding and protection of the marine environment. The policy framework according to the strategy includes: support for the creation of a national network of marine protected areas and the establishment of marine environmental quality guidelines based on improved scientific knowledge base for estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems, policies and programs aimed at marine pollution prevention; Conservation and protection of the marine environment(COS, 2002). Thus, to ensure marine environmental quality the Oceans Action Plan encompass conservation and protection measures through actions such as Marine Protected Areas and "smart" regulations, and guidelines and standards including significant investment in the marine environment aimed at improvements of fisheries management and regulation; understanding large scale oceanographic processes and ensuring safe navigation through Canada waters(DFO, 2005).

"It is important to highlight that a critical goal of this Strategy is the ability to ensure the safety and security of shipping and life at sea. Achieving this goal involves prevention through the prediction of dangerous conditions, the maintenance of safe and secure waterways, and the enforcement of Canadian sovereignty, and the capacity for emergency response that serves people, property and vessels in distress" (COS, 2002).

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) helps DFO meet its responsibility to ensure safe and accessible waterways for Canadians. The CCG also plays a key role in ensuring the sustainable use and development of Canada's oceans and waterways. The CCG helps the government meet the public's expectation of clean, safe, secure, healthy and productive waters and coastlines. Furthermore, Canada plays a strong role in promoting national and international marine safety network. For example in the area of shipping, Canada harmonizes marine safety and environmental policies with international maritime law, and is a major supporter of the work of the International Maritime Organization (COS, 2002).

  1. Maritime surveillance and security:

Canada the Oceans Strategy highlighted sovereignty and security as the essential base for oceans policy and management, for the protection of national sovereign rights and to the preservation of maritime order and security(COS, 2002). The strategy further underpinned the importance of national ability to conduct surveillance, patrol and interdiction operations as pivotal to national security and must be associated with a strong fleet to reinforce and support oceans management and enforcement of national and international law within Canadian maritime areas of jurisdiction(COS, 2002).

  1. Maritime Sector Development Plan:

Canada did not prepare a strategy for the development of economic opportunities. Instead Canada Oceans Policy encouraged the development of knowledge base to assess the economic potential for development(COS, 2002)). At the same time, it underpinned the importance of considering the social, cultural and environmental impacts of economic development by highlighting that the costs of not implementing an oceans strategy include increased conflicts and competition for ocean space, lost economic opportunities and continued environmental degradation(COS, 2002). Canada strategy encompass three programs for insuring sustainable economic opportunities:

  • 183 Sectoral measures to improve and support governance and management of marine industries: include support for fisheries and aquaculture development; support for offshore oil and gas, offshore mineral development, shipbuilding and industrial marine, Innovation Agenda.
  • 183 New and emerging opportunities for oceans industries and oceans-related coastal development: include support for innovative industries partnerships and for economic diversification in coastal communities; promotion of technology transfer, market access, and business development for oceans product and services internationally. And removal of trade barriers to oceans industry development.
  • 183 Co-operation and co-ordination to support and promote business development in the oceans sector: include examination and streamlining of regulations to ensure effective environment protection; examination of existing programs to ensure that oceans opportunities are captured.; Support the National Research Council and Industry Canada development of a Marine and Ocean Industry Technology Roadmap to help identify technologies that could be supported by Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC). The Roadmap outlines actions to develop technology and emphasizes sustainability
  1. Integrated Marine Education and Training Plan:

Canada's Oceans Policy did not give a similar attention to this important issue. However, the Ocean Strategy called for promoting public education on oceans through stewardship and public awareness activities and the use of integrated management. At the same time highlighted the need for integrated data collection, monitoring, research, synthesis, and information sharing, communication and education. It encourages active participation of

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