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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


The Panel agreed that the following principles would guide our recommendations:

Effectiveness of conservation and biodiversity protection: The protection of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and associated cultural and community values is the primary purpose of MPAs. The extent to which MPAs can be designed to meet this overarching purpose, along with their specific conservation objectives, is at the heart of the Panel’s recommendations.

Respect for Indigenous rights: Indigenous peoples are rights holders in conservation planning and management, and their authorities and expertise are essential to marine conservation. All MPA designations must respect constitutionally-protected Indigenous and treaty rights. The Panel looked for opportunities to strengthen partnerships between the Crown and Indigenous peoples, and to ensure that Indigenous knowledge is fully embedded alongside other sciences in the planning and design, governance, and management of MPAs and Indigenous Protected Areas.

Delivering social and economic benefits: Well-managed MPAs and Indigenous Protected Areas can deliver important economic benefits both directly through conservation-oriented employment, community economic development, and capacity-building; and indirectly, by enhancing the overall productivity of marine ecosystems that support socially and commercially valuable resources. Good planning processes engage all interests around clear objectives, resolve conflicts among competing resource uses, and deliver certainty for businesses and investors. The Panel’s recommendations recognize that MPAs and economic and social interests are not necessarily in opposition.

Clarity and transparency: Objectives, rules, management processes, monitoring, and governing structures should be clear and well-communicated. MPA processes should be accessible to all Canadians including stakeholders and rights holders. The Panel suggests opportunities to strengthen engagement and build confidence in MPA planning and management processes.

Flexibility to reflect diverse circumstances: Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world, and its three oceans encompass very diverse marine and coastal ecosystems. Canada’s MPAs to date have been characterized by experimentation and regional diversity; a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not possible. Each MPA or Indigenous Protected Area will be rooted in the needs of a particular region and community and its design will reflect the knowledge, needs, and aspirations of coastal communities and Indigenous peoples. The Panel’s alignment with the IUCN framework remains responsive to Canada’s distinct bioregions and cultures.

Quality matters: Delivering meaningful biodiversity protection is more important than hitting numeric targets. It is expensive to establish and manage MPAs properly; therefore resources must be targeted to areas of high ecological value. Furthermore, quality planning and management processes that enable real collaboration between the Crown and Indigenous peoples, and that provide for meaningful engagement of stakeholders, cannot be rushed. The Panel’s aim has been to ensure that up-front investments in good MPA planning and design are ultimately repaid in more effective and durable outcomes.

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