New seafloor mapping program supports marine safety and planning in two Indigenous communities

News release

June 21, 2023 

Ottawa, Ontario - Our oceans define our communities and cultures. Learning more about our waters can help communities identify underwater hazards and sensitive marine areas, plan fishing and harvesting efforts, and carry out other important activities. Better data can also help address serious challenges like climate change and marine safety, and guide community planning.

Today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is announcing the Community Hydrography program, an initiative that supports Indigenous and coastal communities’ collection and use of hydrographic data, advancing their understanding of the local seafloor. This program is funded through the Oceans Protection Plan that was announced in August 2022.

Two Community Hydrography projects are underway:

  • Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association, an Aquatic Aboriginal Resources and Oceans Management (AAROM) program made up of the Miawpukek First Nation and the Qalipu First Nation in Newfoundland and Labrador, is mapping the seafloor to support safe navigation, identify culturally and ecologically important species and habitats, pinpoint eelgrass beds, and retrieve ghost gear, amongst other community priorities.
  • Qikiqtaaluk Corporation in the Inuit Birthright Corporation for the Qikiqtani region of Nunavut, is providing technology and training to Inuit Hunters and Trappers Associations beginning in Kinngait, Nunavut, to collect and use data from local vessels for hunting, fishing, and infrastructure planning. The projects demonstrate how marine safety and community planning depend on data.

June 21 is also recognized in the science community as World Hydrography Day. It is a day to raise awareness about hydrography – the science that measures, describes and charts the physical features of water bodies – and how it plays a role in improving knowledge of the aquatic environments that we all depend on.

Inuit, First Nations and Métis peoples, as well as coastal communities, have had fundamental ties with the oceans and waterways since time immemorial. Their knowledge and expertise are critical to protecting coastal waters now and into the future. The Government of Canada is committed to building on our partnerships with Indigenous communities to collaboratively protect, preserve, and restore the oceans and waterways for future generations to come. 


“The Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association is pleased to receive DFO funding for the collection of bathymetric and hydrographic data in our traditional territory around Conne River and the Little River estuary and ecosystem. This funding will increase our knowledge of the Little River system and augment our indigenous knowledge of the area. It will also increase our capacity to participate in future scientific efforts to understand our local ecosystem in order to understand its unique place in both Indigenous traditions and within the large ecosystem of the Bay D’Espoir region.”

Shayne McDonald, Executive Director, Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association Inc.

“Qikiqtaaluk Corporation is pleased to receive funding under DFO’s Community Hydrography program, to be able to assist Kinngait, one of our communities, with the provision of technology, training, and data analysis, to undertake community-led bathymetric and hydrographic mapping in areas of interest to the community. We will work closely with the Aiviq HTA in Kinngait, and the Marine Institute in Newfoundland and Labrador to introduce the new HydroBlock technology for use by local vessels.  Our hope is to extend this program to additional communities in our region in the coming years.”

Peter Keenainak, Vice President, Fisheries, Qikiqtaaluk Corporation

“It brings me great pleasure to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day and announce the Community Hydrography Program. It is a small program making big waves for advancing marine safety and community planning by connecting communities to seafloor mapping technologies and training. Indigenous-owned and collected data is integral to Indigenous community planning. I hope that the program helps to bring forward even more outstanding Indigenous contributions to celebrate on June 21 in the years to come.”

The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Through the Oceans Protection Plan, First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and coastal communities have greater involvement in marine safety and marine environmental protection than ever before. By working together, we are ensuring our coastal ecosystems remain protected and local communities have access to the goods they need.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • Community Hydrography is a five-year program (2022 to 2027) supporting Indigenous and coastal communities to collect and use data on the depth of waterbodies for their own community purposes.

  • The program announced today is part of the Government of Canada’s Budget 2022 commitment to provide $2 billion over nine years to renew Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan and expand its work into new areas.

  • The Government of Canada is committed to continuing to work meaningfully with First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and coastal communities in delivering the Oceans Protection Plan and respecting the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

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Matthew Dillon              
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard           

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Shayne McDonald
Executive Director
Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association Inc.

Jerry Ward
Director of Fisheries
Qikiqtaaluk Corporation

Nadine Ramadan
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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