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Oceans Act (S.C. 1996, c. 31)

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Act current to 2022-08-08 and last amended on 2019-07-30. Previous Versions

Oceans Act

S.C. 1996, c. 31

Assented to 1996-12-18

An Act respecting the oceans of Canada

Preamble

WHEREAS Canada recognizes that the three oceans, the Arctic, the Pacific and the Atlantic, are the common heritage of all Canadians;

WHEREAS Parliament wishes to reaffirm Canada’s role as a world leader in oceans and marine resource management;

WHEREAS Parliament wishes to affirm in Canadian domestic law Canada’s sovereign rights, jurisdiction and responsibilities in the exclusive economic zone of Canada;

WHEREAS Canada promotes the understanding of oceans, ocean processes, marine resources and marine ecosystems to foster the sustainable development of the oceans and their resources;

WHEREAS Canada holds that conservation, based on an ecosystem approach, is of fundamental importance to maintaining biological diversity and productivity in the marine environment;

WHEREAS Canada promotes the wide application of the precautionary approach to the conservation, management and exploitation of marine resources in order to protect these resources and preserve the marine environment;

WHEREAS Canada recognizes that the oceans and their resources offer significant opportunities for economic diversification and the generation of wealth for the benefit of all Canadians, and in particular for coastal communities;

WHEREAS Canada promotes the integrated management of oceans and marine resources;

AND WHEREAS the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, in collaboration with other ministers, boards and agencies of the Government of Canada, with provincial and territorial governments and with affected aboriginal organizations, coastal communities and other persons and bodies, including those bodies established under land claims agreements, is encouraging the development and implementation of a national strategy for the management of estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems;

NOW, THEREFORE, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Oceans Act.

Interpretation

Marginal note:Definitions

 In this Act,

artificial island

artificial island means any man-made extension of the seabed or a seabed feature, whether or not the extension breaks the surface of the superjacent waters; (île artificielle)

Department

Department means the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; (ministère)

federal laws

federal laws includes Acts of Parliament, regulations as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Interpretation Act and any other rules of law within the jurisdiction of Parliament, but does not include laws of the Legislature of Yukon, of the Northwest Territories or for Nunavut; (droit)

law

law, in respect of a province, includes a law or rule of law from time to time in force in the province, other than federal laws, and the provisions of any instrument having effect under any such law; (droit)

marine installation or structure

marine installation or structure includes

  • (a) any ship and any anchor, anchor cable or rig pad used in connection therewith,

  • (b) any offshore drilling unit, production platform, subsea installation, pumping station, living accommodation, storage structure, loading or landing platform, dredge, floating crane, pipelaying or other barge or pipeline and any anchor, anchor cable or rig pad used in connection therewith, and

  • (c) any other work or work within a class of works prescribed pursuant to paragraph 26(1)(a); (ouvrages en mer)

Minister

Minister means the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans; (ministre)

ship

ship includes any description of vessel, boat or craft designed, used or capable of being used solely or partly for marine navigation without regard to method or lack of propulsion. (navire)

  • 1996, c. 31, s. 2
  • 1993, c. 28, s. 78
  • 1998, c. 15, s. 35
  • 2002, c. 7, s. 223
  • 2014, c. 2, s. 46

Marginal note:Saving

 For greater certainty, nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any existing aboriginal or treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Her Majesty

Marginal note:Her Majesty

 This Act is binding on Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province.

PART ICanada’s Maritime Zones

Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone

Marginal note:Territorial sea of Canada

 The territorial sea of Canada consists of a belt of sea that has as its inner limit the baselines described in section 5 and as its outer limit

  • (a) subject to paragraph (b), the line every point of which is at a distance of 12 nautical miles from the nearest point of the baselines; or

  • (b) in respect of the portions of the territorial sea of Canada for which geographical coordinates of points have been prescribed pursuant to subparagraph 25(a)(ii), lines determined from the geographical coordinates of points so prescribed.

Marginal note:Determination of the baselines

  •  (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), the baseline is the low-water line along the coast or on a low-tide elevation that is situated wholly or partly at a distance not exceeding the breadth of the territorial sea of Canada from the mainland or an island.

  • Marginal note:Geographical coordinates of points

    (2) In respect of any area for which geographical coordinates of points have been prescribed pursuant to subparagraph 25(a)(i) and subject to any exceptions in the regulations for

    • (a) the use of the low-water line along the coast between given points, and

    • (b) the use of the low-water lines of low-tide elevations that are situated wholly or partly at a distance not exceeding the breadth of the territorial sea of Canada from the mainland or an island,

    the baselines are straight lines interpreted as geodesics joining the consecutive geographical coordinates of points so prescribed.

  • Marginal note:Baselines where historic title

    (3) In respect of any area not referred to in subsection (2), the baselines are the outer limits of any area, other than the territorial sea of Canada, over which Canada has a historic or other title of sovereignty.

  • Marginal note:Low-tide elevations

    (4) For the purposes of this section, a low-tide elevation is a naturally formed area of land that is surrounded by and above water at low tide but submerged at high tide.

Marginal note:Internal waters of Canada

 The internal waters of Canada consist of the waters on the landward side of the baselines of the territorial sea of Canada.

Marginal note:Part of Canada

 For greater certainty, the internal waters of Canada and the territorial sea of Canada form part of Canada.

Marginal note:Rights of Her Majesty

  •  (1) For greater certainty, in any area of the sea not within a province, the seabed and subsoil below the internal waters of Canada and the territorial sea of Canada are vested in Her Majesty in right of Canada.

  • Marginal note:Saving

    (2) Nothing in this section abrogates or derogates from any legal right or interest held before February 4, 1991.

Marginal note:Application of provincial law

  •  (1) Subject to this section and to any other Act of Parliament, the laws of a province apply in any area of the sea

    • (a) that forms part of the internal waters of Canada or the territorial sea of Canada;

    • (b) that is not within any province; and

    • (c) that is prescribed by the regulations.

  • Marginal note:Limitation

    (2) Subject to any regulations made pursuant to paragraph 26(1)(d), subsection (1) does not apply in respect of any provision of a law of a province that

    • (a) imposes a tax or royalty; or

    • (b) relates to mineral or other non-living natural resources.

  • Marginal note:Interpretation

    (3) For the purposes of this section, the laws of a province shall be applied as if the area of the sea in which those laws apply under this section were within the territory of that province.

  • Marginal note:Sums due to province

    (4) Any sum due under a law of a province that applies in an area of the sea under this section belongs to Her Majesty in right of the province.

  • Marginal note:Limitation

    (5) For greater certainty, this section shall not be interpreted as providing a basis for any claim, by or on behalf of a province, in respect of any interest in or legislative jurisdiction over any area of the sea in which a law of a province applies under this section or the living or non-living resources of that area, or as limiting the application of any federal laws.

Marginal note:Contiguous zone of Canada

 The contiguous zone of Canada consists of an area of the sea that has as its inner limit the outer limit of the territorial sea of Canada and as its outer limit the line every point of which is at a distance of 24 nautical miles from the nearest point of the baselines of the territorial sea of Canada, but does not include an area of the sea that forms part of the territorial sea of another state or in which another state has sovereign rights.

Marginal note:Prevention in contiguous zone of infringement of federal laws

 A person who is responsible for the enforcement of a federal law that is a customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary law and who has reasonable grounds to believe that a person in the contiguous zone of Canada would, if that person were to enter Canada, commit an offence under that law may, subject to Canada’s international obligations, prevent the entry of that person into Canada or the commission of the offence and, for greater certainty, section 25 of the Criminal Code applies in respect of the exercise by a person of any powers under this section.

Marginal note:Enforcement in contiguous zone of federal laws

  •  (1) Where there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed an offence in Canada in respect of a federal law that is a customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary law, every power of arrest, entry, search or seizure or other power that could be exercised in Canada in respect of that offence may also be exercised in the contiguous zone of Canada.

  • Marginal note:Limitation

    (2) A power of arrest referred to in subsection (1) shall not be exercised in the contiguous zone of Canada on board any ship registered outside Canada without the consent of the Attorney General of Canada.

Exclusive Economic Zone

Marginal note:Exclusive economic zone of Canada

  •  (1) The exclusive economic zone of Canada consists of an area of the sea beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea of Canada that has as its inner limit the outer limit of the territorial sea of Canada and as its outer limit

    • (a) subject to paragraph (b), the line every point of which is at a distance of 200 nautical miles from the nearest point of the baselines of the territorial sea of Canada; or

    • (b) in respect of a portion of the exclusive economic zone of Canada for which geographical coordinates of points have been prescribed pursuant to subparagraph 25(a)(iii), lines determined from the geographical coordinates of points so prescribed.

  • Marginal note:Determination of the outer limit of the exclusive economic zone of Canada

    (2) For greater certainty, paragraph (1)(a) applies regardless of whether regulations are made pursuant to subparagraph 25(a)(iv) prescribing geographical coordinates of points from which the outer limit of the exclusive economic zone of Canada may be determined.

Marginal note:Sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Canada

 Canada has

  • (a) sovereign rights in the exclusive economic zone of Canada for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the exclusive economic zone of Canada, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds;

  • (b) jurisdiction in the exclusive economic zone of Canada with regard to

    • (i) the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures,

    • (ii) marine scientific research, and

    • (iii) the protection and preservation of the marine environment; and

  • (c) other rights and duties in the exclusive economic zone of Canada provided for under international law.

Marginal note:Rights of Her Majesty

  •  (1) For greater certainty, any rights of Canada in the seabed and subsoil of the exclusive economic zone of Canada and their resources are vested in Her Majesty in right of Canada.

  • Marginal note:Saving

    (2) Nothing in this section abrogates or derogates from any legal right or interest held before February 4, 1991.

Marginal note:Fishing zones of Canada

 The fishing zones of Canada consist of areas of the sea adjacent to the coast of Canada that are prescribed in the regulations.

Continental Shelf

Marginal note:Continental shelf of Canada

  •  (1) The continental shelf of Canada is the seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas, including those of the exclusive economic zone of Canada, that extend beyond the territorial sea of Canada throughout the natural prolongation of the land territory of Canada

    • (a) subject to paragraphs (b) and (c), to the outer edge of the continental margin, determined in the manner under international law that results in the maximum extent of the continental shelf of Canada, the continental margin being the submerged prolongation of the land mass of Canada consisting of the seabed and subsoil of the shelf, the slope and the rise, but not including the deep ocean floor with its oceanic ridges or its subsoil;

    • (b) to a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baselines of the territorial sea of Canada where the outer edge of the continental margin does not extend up to that distance; or

    • (c) in respect of a portion of the continental shelf of Canada for which geographical coordinates of points have been prescribed pursuant to subparagraph 25(a)(iii), to lines determined from the geographical coordinates of points so prescribed.

  • Marginal note:Determination of the outer limit of the continental shelf of Canada

    (2) For greater certainty, paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) apply regardless of whether regulations are made pursuant to subparagraph 25(a)(iv) prescribing geographical coordinates of points from which the outer edge of the continental margin or other outer limit of the continental shelf of Canada may be determined.

  • 1996, c. 31, s. 17
  • 2015, c. 3, s. 137(E)

Marginal note:Sovereign rights of Canada

 Canada has sovereign rights over the continental shelf of Canada for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting the mineral and other non-living natural resources of the seabed and subsoil of the continental shelf of Canada, together with living organisms belonging to sedentary species, that is to say, organisms that, at the harvestable stage, either are immobile on or under the seabed of the continental shelf of Canada or are unable to move except in constant physical contact with the seabed or the subsoil of the continental shelf of Canada.

Marginal note:Rights of Her Majesty

  •  (1) For greater certainty, any rights of Canada in the continental shelf of Canada are vested in Her Majesty in right of Canada.

  • Marginal note:Saving

    (2) Nothing in this section abrogates or derogates from any legal right or interest held before February 4, 1991.

Marginal note:Application of federal laws — continental shelf installations

  •  (1) Subject to any regulations made pursuant to paragraph 26(1)(j) or (k), federal laws apply

    • (a) on or under any marine installation or structure from the time it is attached or anchored to the continental shelf of Canada in connection with the exploration of that shelf or the exploitation of its mineral or other non-living resources until the marine installation or structure is removed from the waters above the continental shelf of Canada;

    • (b) on or under any artificial island constructed, erected or placed on the continental shelf of Canada; and

    • (c) within such safety zone surrounding any marine installation or structure or artificial island referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) as is determined by or pursuant to the regulations.

  • Marginal note:Interpretation

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1), federal laws shall be applied

    • (a) as if the places referred to in that subsection formed part of the territory of Canada;

    • (b) notwithstanding that by their terms their application is limited to Canada; and

    • (c) in a manner that is consistent with the rights and freedoms of other states under international law and, in particular, with the rights and freedoms of other states in relation to navigation and overflight.

 
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