Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy

The Oceans Act provides the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans with a leadership role for coordinating the development and implementation of a federal network of marine protected areas. The responsibility for the network is shared between three federal departments and agencies with mandated responsibilities to establish and manage marine protected areas – Fisheries and Oceans CanadaParks Canada Agency and Environment Canada.

Canada’s federal marine protected area network is comprised of three core programs including:

  • Oceans Act Marine Protected Areas established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada to protect and conserve important fish and marine mammal habitats, endangered marine species, unique features and areas of high biological productivity or biodiversity.
  • Marine Wildlife Areas established by Environment Canada to protect and conserve habitat for a variety of wildlife including migratory birds and endangered species.
  • National Marine Conservation Areas established by Parks Canada to protect and conserve representative examples of Canada’s natural and cultural marine heritage and provide opportunities for public education and enjoyment.

The Federal Marine Protected Area Strategy outlines how these departments and agencies will work together to establish a comprehensive network of marine protected areas that will conserve and protect Canada’s natural and cultural marine resources.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Around the world, marine protected areas are increasingly being endorsed as a valuable conservation and protection tool. The benefits of a network of marine protected areas are numerous, diverse and include ecological, social, economic and cultural elements. The drive for a Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy ensued from the need for a cooperative and collaborative approach to the development of a network of federal marine protected areas in Canada as a means to help address the declining health of our oceans. In 1997, the Oceans Act provided Fisheries and Oceans Canada with a leading and coordinating role in this endeavor.

The intent of this Strategy is to clarify the roles and responsibilities of federal departments and agencies with marine protected area mandates, namely Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada and the Parks Canada Agency, and to describe how federal marine protected area programs can collectively be used to create a cohesive and complementary network of marine protected areas.

This Strategy defines the following goal:

The establishment of a network of marine protected areas, established and managed within an integrated oceans management framework, that contributes to the health of Canada’s oceans and marine environments.

In support of this goal, this Strategy will aim to fulfill its objectives to:

  • establish a more systematic approach to marine protected area planning and establishment;
  • enhance collaboration for management and monitoring of marine protected areas;
  • increase awareness, understanding and participation of Canadians in the marine protected areas network; and
  • link Canada’s network of marine protected areas to continental and global networks .
Three orca whales swimming, surfacing, close up view

These objectives, and the Strategy’s supporting activities, are a shared responsibility of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada and the Parks Canada Agency. Together, the departments and agencies will work towards meeting these objectives. To ensure that progress on the network continues, the above mentioned federal departments and agencies will move forward in establishing areas that have previously been identified as candidate sites. In addition, the Strategy outlines how collective planning efforts will be undertaken to identify a suite of sites that may be added to the network in the future.

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