As the national oceanographic data centre for Canada, MEDS maintains centralized repositories of some oceanographic data types collected in Canada, and coordinates data exchanges between DFO and recognized intergovernmental organizations, as well as acts as a central point for oceanographic data requests. Real-time, near real-time (for operational oceanography) or historical data are made available as appropriate.
MEDS was established as the Marine Environmental Data Service in 1969 to coordinate the Canadian Wave Climate Study. It was significantly enlarged in 1973, when the Tides and Water Levels Section of the Canadian Hydrographic Service and the Canadian Oceanographic Data Centre (established in 1962) were incorporated into it. It was known between 2005 and 2015 under the acronyms ISDM and OSD. Since 2015, MEDS is a Section of the Department's Ocean Sciences Branch.