Establishing and managing Marines Protected Areas (MPAs) under the Oceans Act

Step 1: Selection of Area of Interest (AOI) through one of the 13 bioregional MPA Network Process

  • Establishment of the proposed MPA Advisory Committee to provide a venue for interested and affected parties to provide input into the creation of the MPA.

Step 2: Ecological/biophysical, social, cultural and economic overview & assessment of the AOI

  • Refinement/completion of an overview and analysis of the AOI, which considers ecological/biophysical, social, cultural and economic aspects.
  • Interested and affected parties may contribute information considering their expertise in their field or the local/traditional knowledge they hold into the overview and assessment of the AOI.

Step 3: Development of the regulatory intent and consultation with interested/affected parties

The proposed MPA design and regulations is developed based on a comprehensive understanding of the state of the ecosystem in the area based on best available science, traditional and local knowledge, and community based monitoring and other sources of information.

  • Based on the overview and assessment report, the conservation objectives of the proposed MPA are elaborated and the regulatory measures are developed. The selection of which activities would be allowed to occur and the conditions under which they would be carried out are determined based on the level of risk associated with these human activities to the achievement of the MPA conservation objectives.
  • Consultation occurs with affected and interested parties on the conservation objectives, the regulatory measures, the boundary (and zoning if applicable), which constitutes the intent of the regulatory initiative.

Step 4: Regulatory process & designation of the MPA

  • Key documents are completed: the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), the Triage Statement Form, the Cost/Benefit Analysis (CBA), the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS), the instructions for drafting the regulations, the Regulatory Communications Plan.
  • The impacts of the regulatory initiative are taken into account in several regulatory documents: the Triage Statement, the Cost-Benefit Analysis and the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement.
  • Department of Justice lawyers draft the MPA regulations based on the regulatory intent.
  • Treasury Board approves the pre-publication of the draft regulations in Canada Gazette, Part I for public comment: when draft regulations are pre-published, interested persons are allowed a period of time (usually 30 days) to express their views. The Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement and Regulations may be modified to reflect comments received. MPA designation occurs when the regulations are published in Canada Gazette, Part II.

Step 5: MPA Management

A well-defined MPA management framework increases certainty and predictability for oceans users. It also tailors MPA management towards achievement of stated MPA goals and objectives, resulting in more effective and efficient protection. This may yield greater ecological benefits and associated ecosystem goods and services.

The key elements to the MPA management framework are the Conservation Objectives, the MPA Management Plan; the MPA Monitoring Plan (which includes monitoring indicators, protocols and strategies); Compliance and Enforcement; and Public Education and Outreach. The MPA Management Plan provides guidance to affected and interested parties on the MPA regulations and associated regulatory measures, as well as on non-regulatory measures (e.g., best management practices, public awareness through communications) to achieve the MPA objectives. Stakeholders are given the opportunity to provide their input into the initial draft MPA Management Plan prior to its finalization and into subsequent revisions of the plan.

When MPA management is supported by a monitoring framework, managers can make informed decisions to adaptively manage the MPA, resulting in more effective MPA management. A monitoring framework also ensures that monitoring is strategic, efficient, and makes use of collaborative arrangements where possible.MPA regulations follow a life-cycle approach, meaning that attention is given not only to regulatory development but also to the implementation, monitoring, evaluation and review of regulations. As a result, the life cycle approach improves the effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability of the regulatory system to support the government's commitment to Canadians.

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