Changing climates in a blue economy: Assessing the climate-responsiveness of Canadian fisheries and oceans policy

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By Jack Daly*, Christine Knott**, Poppy Keogh, Gerald G. Singh**

* former OFI Module I Master’s student
** OFI researchers


Canada has committed to the Paris Climate Agreement, and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to address and mitigate climate change and human impacts on fisheries and oceans. But does Canada’s current ocean policy framework reflect these commitments? This new paper takes a hard look at the responsiveness of Canadian fisheries and ocean policy to climate change impacts on ecosystem services.


The research identified climate change impacts, such as ocean warming and acidification, on ecosystem services like fisheries production and habitat-forming species.  Through an extensive document scan and policy analysis, the authors found food provision was the most frequently affected ecosystem service, which relates directly to the health and well-being of coastal and SSF communities. They also identified a distinct lack of commitment or relevant policy to protect SSF, as outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, the authors found that Canada’s existing policies that govern fisheries in general, and SSF in particular, are non-climate responsive.


The authors argue for the consideration of climate change in fisheries and area-based conservation planning. They recommend an integrated climate policy action and an increased focus on Canada’s most marginalized and vulnerable sectors and populations in development of climate change mitigation policy. This should include the incorporation of social justice and centering climate resilience to align Canada’s Blue Economy Strategy with its commitments to sustainable development, social inclusion, and environmental protection.


This study is linked to the research done last year as part of the Covid-19 Job Initiative, which was run by OFI, TBTI, Nippon Foundation Nereus Program and Memorial University and was established to support students who lost income or financial support due to the pandemic.