Language selection


Final Report of the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards

Submitted to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Final Report of the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards

Final Report of the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards (PDF, 2.36 MB)

September 26, 2018

Rémi Bujold and Mary Simon,
Panel Co-Chairs

David Anderson
Darcy Dobell
Tom Hayes
Marc Léger
Maureen Thomas

Table of Contents


On June 8, 2016, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard announced the Government of Canada’s commitment to reach its domestic and international marine conservation targets of protecting 5 percent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2017 and 10 percent by 2020Footnote 1. Aichi Target 11 is so important, that the government refers to this goal as Canada Target 1. Prior to 2016, Canada had protected less than 1% of its marine estate, from the initial establishment of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park in 1998 to the establishment of Tarium Niriyutait Marine Protected Area in 2010. The public commitment to meeting these targets means that the government has achieved over 7% of its target for marine protection across Canada in a relatively short period of time. Marine refuges have comprised 4.7% of the targetFootnote 2.

Federal marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada can be created by 4 different pieces of legislation: Canada’s Oceans Act, the Canada National Marine Conservation Area Act, the Canada Wildlife Act and the Migratory Bird Convention Act. Up to now, MPAs have been created on an individual basis; in most of these individual cases, allowable activities have been specifically tailored to conservation objectives for each site. While this approach was useful for the relatively minor footprint of MPAs up to 2015, as protected area coverage increases, the potential for inconsistency between sites has also increased, leading to public confusion and calls for consistent protection standards in the marine context.

At the same time, the government has committed to an ambitious and necessary Reconciliation agenda. Indigenous peoples have long been stewards of ocean spaces from coast to coast to coast. In many cases, they are the primary inhabitants of coastal areas, and derive economic benefits from their use.

The National Advisory Panel on MPA Standards was created in this context. Our Terms of Reference asked us “to gather perspectives and offer recommendations to the Minister on categories and associated protection standards for federal MPAs…using International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidance as a baseline.” We were to “provide practical and innovative recommendations,” and “consider indigenous approaches and worldviews.” We examined “relevant recommendations of the Indigenous Circle of Experts and its recommendations on the concept of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas” which we refer to as Indigenous Protected Areas. You can find our full Terms of reference in Appendix 2 of this report.

From March to September 2018, we have listened intently, hearing from experts and interested parties from all over Canada, studying what has worked best internationally, and deliberating on the best way forward for Canada.

MPAs are designed primarily for nature conservation. The globally accepted IUCN definition states that: “A protected area is a clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated, and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values”Footnote 3.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:
Date modified: