Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management (ICOM) is a comprehensive and collaborative approach to planning and managing human activities to achieve conservation, development and sustainable use of coastal and marine resources. The ICOM approach maintains the integrity or health of marine ecosystems while addressing and reducing user conflicts, and managing the cumulative impacts of a multitude of activities within a given ocean area.
Demand for access to ocean resources and space continues to grow as Newfoundland and Labrador seeks out new and diversified economic opportunities. Traditional marine industries such as fishing and shipping have expanded and diversified, while emerging industries such as aquaculture, tourism, and offshore oil and gas are growing rapidly. Economic growth and diversification strengthen Newfoundland and Labrador's economy, but also leads to increasing competition over ocean space and increased complexity for oceans managers tasked with balancing the protection of marine biodiversity and ecosystem services with increasing demand from a growing array of ocean users.
Canada's Oceans Act (1997) recognizes the need for an integrated approach to coastal and oceans management that involves stakeholders and a coordinated, collaborative governance structure led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Canada became one of the first countries in the world to make a legislative commitment to a comprehensive approach for the protection and development of ocean and coastal waters. Canada's Ocean Strategy (2002) provided an overall strategic framework for Canada's oceans-related programs and policies.
Recognizing the important role coastal areas and ocean resources play in the well-being of the province, not only economically but also socially and culturally, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador released the Coastal and Ocean Management Strategy and Policy Framework in 2011. This document is government's commitment to an integrated management approach and provides a long term strategic direction on sustainable use of coastal and ocean resources.