Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy

Table of Contents

Building a Network – An Innovative Approach

This Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy helps set the foundation for developing a marine protected areas network in Canada and aims to increase the ecological effectiveness and connectivity between individual marine protected areas in an effort to conserve and protect the structure and function of marine ecosystems. The Strategy recognizes that marine protected areas may work at various scales, ranging from local to hemispheric to global. The Strategy also highlights the importance of establishing a network of marine protected areas within a broader sustainable ocean management planning framework and creating linkages to transboundary, international and terrestrial protected area networks.

In addition to the ecological complexities of the marine environment, there are also a number of institutional challenges to Canada ’s progress in restoring the health of our coastal and marine environments. For example, there are three federal departments and agencies with a specific mandate to establish and manage marine protected areas, each with its own objectives and management approaches. Although these programs are complementary, and contribute to one overall objective, communication and collaboration between the three federal departments have not always been consistent and have tended to evolve opportunistically. Where collaboration has occurred, the results have been very positive. The Strategy seeks to build on these successes and ensure continued collaboration in the development of a federal network of marine protected areas.

Îles de la Madeleine, rock arch on coastline
To build on the momentum already underway in many areas of Canada , formalized institutional mechanisms such as Memoranda of Understanding and interdepartmental working groups, at both national and regional levels,may be used to ensure that Canada ’s marine protected areas network is developed and managed in an inclusive, coordinated and complementary fashion. The development of strategic partnerships, and the ability to draw from the individual strengths of each department, will increase our collective ability to establish and manage marine protected areas, conduct research, monitor marine protected area effectiveness, as well as develop education and outreach initiatives in a co-operative and cost-effective manner.

This co-ordinated and transparent approach to planning and establishing a network of marine protected areas will also provide a greater level of certainty and clarity to ocean users. The development of baseline scientific information within an integrated or strategic planning area, including the analysis and identification of ecologically and biologically significant areas and candidate representative areas will contribute to ecosystem health while at the same time support sustainable development activities.

Its intent is to clarify the roles and responsibilities of federal departments and agencies with marine protected area mandates and illustrate how federal marine protected area programs can collectively be used to create a complementary and cohesive network of marine protected areas. It also serves to identify those other departments and agencies that, by virtue of their responsibilities within Canada ’s ocean environment, may have a role to play in the establishment and management of marine protected areas.

Date modified: