Marine spatial planning
Canada’s diverse ocean economy has room to grow, however our oceans are facing significant threats from climate change, pollution, and competing demands on marine resources. Marine spatial planning is a practical, internationally recognized process that will enable the Government of Canada to plan and coordinate ocean activities in collaboration with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments. This will allow us to grow our oceans economy to create jobs and opportunities for coastal communities while advancing conservation objectives.
Similar in some ways to how urban planning is used to help us organize the ongoing development of cities—for example, setting aside green spaces while also allowing for housing developments or other uses—marine spatial planning provides a forward-looking approach to ensuring effective use of our ocean spaces.
Marine spatial planning considers the range of human activities planned for a given marine area over time (such as fishing, cultural uses, conservation areas, energy development, etc.) to keep our oceans healthy and productive for generations to come.
Strategic oceans management
Managing our oceans collaboratively is not a new concept for Canada. We have been doing this for years, including initiatives focused on:
- Advancing integrated oceans management in specific areas across the country
- The coordinated development of strategic networks of conservation areas
- The establishment of Marine Protected Areas (under the Oceans Act) and other effective area-based conservation measures, such as marine refuges.
Building on these initiatives, marine spatial planning will bring federal, provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners together to develop open and transparent plans for the sustainable use of our oceans. Our preceding work serves as a strong starting point from which to build. Existing integrated management plans, for example, will provide high-level direction in outlining principles and goals for the management of human activities in key areas.
Marine spatial planning across Canada
Work has already begun towards laying the foundations for marine spatial planning across Canada. In British Columbia we are engaging with Indigenous governments and the Province to advance marine spatial planning in the waters off Canada’s Pacific North Coast. In Eastern Canada discussions have commenced between federal, provincial, and Indigenous governments to inform the development of spatial plans in three bioregions: the Newfoundland and Labrador shelves; the Scotian Shelf-Bay of Fundy; and the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Moving forward, additional information will become available as new initiatives related to marine spatial planning in Canada are announced.
- Backgrounder: Marine spatial planning in Canada’s Pacific North Coast
- Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO marine spatial planning programme
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