Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund


Canada’s oceans and waterways are home to diverse ecosystems that play an important role in the health of Canadians and the environment. Climate change, pollution and shipping activities can threaten coastal and marine life. Through Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is increasing protections and further preserving these important coastal and marine ecosystems. The former Coastal Restoration Fund had an overwhelming amount of interest which underscored the need to continue funding projects to help restore the ecosystems of Canada’s coasts.

As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, the Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund (AERF) supports projects to identify coastal and upstream restoration priorities, develop and implement aquatic restoration plans, and provide funding to partners (e.g. Indigenous Peoples, conservation groups, academia) to implement projects to address human impacts on Canadian aquatic species and habitats. Activities funded under the AERF will help address threats contributing towards biodiversity loss along Canada’s coastlines. This includes addressing root causes of impacts from inland estuaries and freshwater ecosystems to coastal and marine aquatic ecosystems.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is taking swift action under this initiative. In this first year of the AERF, DFO will support three projects totaling close to $15 million to support the restoration of aquatic ecosystems. Sustainable investments will target concrete actions in partnership and collaboration between different communities.

  • The Fisheries and Marine Institute of the Memorial University of Newfoundland will receive approximately $5 million over the next five years to establish healthy coastal habitats for species such as Atlantic salmon, cod, American eel, and lobster through the restoration of degraded/damaged eelgrass beds, artificial reefs, and removal of barriers to fish passage to enhance habitat productivity and conserve biodiversity. The project will be undertaken in partnership with the Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association (MAMKA) and will be done in Placentia Bay and surrounding areas.
  • St. Mary’s University in Halifax will receive $5 million over five years to restore approximately 30 hectares of salt marsh habitat and natural hydrology through managed dyke realignment, and natural coastal processes to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The project will also include a Mi’kmaw Indigenous knowledge assessment to help to build local scientific and technical capacity in the application of coastal restoration techniques.
  • The Nature Trust of British Columbia will also receive $5 million over the next five years to establish a network of estuary monitoring and assessment activities in estuaries within the Salish Sea along British Columbia’s coast. The project will work to identify and address the multiple threats and stressors to these habitats that have been altered by the cumulative impacts of various activities (such as diking, fill, culverts, and industrial/residential use) and impacted biodiversity in aquatic environments. This project will work with and expand the Nature Trust’s extensive network of First Nation, environmental non‑government organization, academic and local stewardship partners to assess, develop and implement transformational restoration projects.

The Oceans Protection Plan is a Canadian success story. When Indigenous Peoples, industry, communities, academia, and government work together to protect our environment, grow our economy, and support good jobs across the country, we deliver real results. A renewed and expanded Oceans Protection Plan will keep our oceans and coasts healthy, advance reconciliation, and build a clean future for our children and grandchildren.

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