Ocean Management Research Network Maritime Awards Society of Canada


Welcome to the online Workshop Backgrounders for the 2003 OMRN National Conference. These backgrounders have been developed to support the interactive workshops that will be taking place at the conference. More information »


Workshop Backgrounders are available for the following topics:

Integrated Management

Workshop convenor(s): Helen Fast
Backgrounder author(s)
Released 5 Nov 2003
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How do we improve ocean management in Canada?

International guidelines prescribing IM as the preferred approach to coastal and ocean management also call for the use of indicators in assessing progress achieved. A survey of 19 funding organizations has identified the major issues that form the subject of donor evaluations (Olsen et al., 1997). Many of these indicators evaluate the human dimension.

Human Dimension Institutional Dimension
Human capacity  
Participatory planning, decision-making and management Government commitment
Public education and awareness Institutional structure
Sustainability Policy framework
Clear roles and responsibilities Use of scientific information
Conflict resolution Assessment of conditions and trends
Traditional attitudes, uses and rights Monitoring and evaluation
Transfer of knowledge / experience Issue analysis
Public disclosure  

In this workshop we propose to use a series of indicators to assess progress in six case studies of integrated coastal and ocean management in Canada. We anticipate that this approach will reveal strengths and weaknesses within the human dimension of IM that can be translated into research needs and pursued further by the social science community. The goal of the workshop is to understand the factors that contribute to effective integrated management. The objective is to improve integrated management in Canada.

The six case studies chosen for analysis include the Bras d’Or Watershed, Nova Scotia; Caraquet, Eastern New Brunswick; Hudson Bay, Nunavut; Les Escoumins to the Betsiamites River Coastal Zone, Quebec; an IM process with a long term history of planning over 15 years in the offshore oil and gas sector, and an IM process for aquaculture planning (B.C. Quatsino Sound and central coast).

This workshop is organized around a series of questions that will serve as a guide for addressing the above issues in coastal and ocean management. Each case study will be reviewed in relation to these questions by a presenter. A panel of three will comment on the information provided. The hour will conclude with a group discussion sharing experiences, identifying lessons learned, and noting areas requiring further study.

The series of questions will be published at this web site, and made available by email to workshop registrants.

Questions for workshop discussion

  1. Initiation of the IM planning process?
    • What triggered this coastal management initiative? (for example, this could be a government agency or a particular issue such as contamination of a shellfish bed) and how did this influence the selection of issues that the project is addressing?
    • What information was gathered in this case, and from whom?
    • Was scientific information/data (socio-economic and ecological) as well as local and traditional knowledge included?
    • How was this information gathered and exchanged, and how long did it take to gather and vet this information?

  2. Are participatory planning and decision-making characteristic of your process?
    • What is the role of each major stakeholder group in your IM planning exercise, and how were these roles facilitated?
    • How is decision-making linked to the IM planning process? Who makes decisions? How are decisions influenced? How will different view points be addressed? Is there a mechanism for conflict resolution?
    • To what extent are program data (e.g. impact assessments, permit decisions, development and conservation plans, and violations), the program policy, and the decision-making process made available to stakeholders and the public?

  3. How does your IM project address the health/maintenance and protection of coastal ecosystems?
    • The Oceans Act dictates that IM planning should be ecosystem-based and that the health of coastal and marine ecosystems should be maintained as sustainable development proceeds.
    • Can ecoregions, or their subdivisions, be used to define the spatial boundary of the IM or ICZM planning and management area, and should these units be modified to take into account human considerations such as the presence of communities and the nature/distribution of human activities?
    • Is there a framework for defining and monitoring trends in environmental quality?
    • How should integrated management planning relate to activities beyond the IM planning boundaries and how should the study areas for IM/ICZM be defined to take this into account?

  4. What institutional framework is being used for your IM process?
    • Has an institutional framework (e.g., management body, advisory bodies, working groups,) been established for implementation of the IM plan?
    • Have the necessary inter-institutional agreements been negotiated that specify how responsibilities for implementation are allocated among different pre-existing institutions?
    • Does the institutional structure link policy formulation at the agency level with decision-making and/or advice at the local level?
    • What political support does your IM plan have and how was this achieved?

  5. Is encouraging sustainable development a feature of your IM process?
    • How is sustainable economic development being supported in your IM plan?
    • Is promoting economic diversity a consideration?
    • How does the plan address social and cultural development?
    • How does it integrate conservation with these other objectives?

  6. How does the plan address the long term future of coastal communities?
    • Is capacity building among coastal residents a feature of your IM process?
    • How are the external forces (such as global markets/climate change) affecting your communities being taken into account?
    • Governments change over time and hence policies change whereas communities tend to be continuous over the long term. How are coastal communities involved in IM planning and decision-making?

  7. How can we assess the effectiveness of an IM planning initiative?
    • Describe how the effectiveness and outcomes your IM plan are monitored.
    • What indicators are used to assess program milestones?
    • Is there a mechanism to continue the monitoring process and how is it funded?
    • Is there a mechanism for revising the IM plan and, if so, how frequently will this be done?

  8. What “Outcomes” have occurred as a result of your IM process?
    • What constituencies and institutional capacity has been built to undertake IM planning and decision making?
    • What authority, funding and other resources have been put in place to carry out IM?
    • What new forms of collaborative action among institutions have emerged as a result of IM?
    • What changes in State-civil society relationships have occurred as a result of IM? For example, are there new partnerships, or are there civil management bodies that advise government?
    • How has the behaviour of people been affected by IM?
    • What social and/or environmental qualities have been maintained, restored or improved as a result of IM?


Olsen, S., K. Lowry, J. Tobey, P. Burbridge and S. Humphrey, 1997a. Survey of current purposes and methods of evaluating coastal management projects and programs funded by international donors. Coastal Management Report #2200, University of Thode Island, Coastal Resources Centre. Narragansett, RI, USA.

Backgrounder author(s)

Together with other Oceans Program staff, Helen Fast has for the past five years been developing and implementing integrated management projects in Canada’s arctic marine regions. Projects have been initiated in the Western Arctic, in the Baffin Region, and in Hudson Bay. Helen’s graduate studies concerned northern resource management issues, focusing on the ethos and economy of subsistence land use in the Hudson Bay bioregion. Helen is an adjunct professor at the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Manitoba. She has been actively involved in the Oceans Research Network since its inception, and works closely with the Integrated Management Node.

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