Canada-British Columbia Marine Protected Area Network Strategy

Table of Contents

  1. Complete Text
  2. Preface
  3. Introduction
  4. The Need to Plan MPA Networks
  5. What is an MPA? What is an MPA Network?
  6. Vision and Goals for a Network of Marine Protected Areas on the Pacific Coast of Canada
  7. Planning Principles
  8. Planning Regions for Marine Protected Area Networks
  9. Governance
  10. Moving Forward
  11. Appendix 1. Marine Ecosystem Stressors in the North East Pacific
  12. Appendix 2. Protected Area Legislation in Pacific Canada
  13. Appendix 3. International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Guidelines for Applying Protected Area Management Categories
  14. Background Documents and References

Moving Forward

It is expected that all bioregional MPA network planning processes will unfold in a manner that leads to achievement of the goals and principles as outlined in this Strategy. However, a standardized, detailed implementation plan is not prescribed.

Implementation plans may be developed at the bioregional scale in collaboration with First Nations and with input from local governments and stakeholders to allow for the development of approaches that respect the unique ecological, socio-political, economic and cultural characteristics found in different regions of coastal British Columbia. Nevertheless, some consistency in MPA network planning across bioregions can be expected. Sidebar 3 summarizes the steps that should apply in every network planning process; they are based on international best practices and those outlined in the National Framework for Canada's Network of Marine Protected Areas.

The Canada-British Columbia Marine Protected Area Strategy is an important first step towards safeguarding the broad range of values British Columbians place on our ocean. The governments of Canada and British Columbia look forward to collaborating with First Nations and working with local governments, stakeholders and the public to protect the quality and integrity of our marine environment while ensuring a sustainable economy.

PHOTO: © CHARLIE SHORT

PHOTO: © CHARLIE SHORT

PHOTO: © DOUG BIFFARD

Planning Bioregional MPA Networks

Identify and Involve Others

  • Collaboration with First Nations and involvement of local governments and stakeholders throughout all the steps involved in planning and implementation will be important to achieving the vision, goals and objectives of MPA networks. The extent to which local governments and stakeholders are involved will vary according to capacity and the local context. Existing governance structures should be adopted or expanded as appropriate.

Identify Funding Requirements and Timelines

  • Funding requirements should be identified at the bioregional or finer scale. Where possible, MPA network planning should be integrated with existing marine planning processes. Timelines for implementation will vary across the different bioregions depending on the resources required and available; the capacity and interests of First Nations, local governments, and stakeholders to become involved; the presence/absence of 'good governance' arrangements; the availability of information and work already underway or completed.

Clearly Define Ecological, Economic, Social, and Cultural Bioregional Network Objectives

  • Network objectives that reflect ecological, social, economic, cultural and practical considerations should be developed in collaboration with local First Nations and with input from other invested and informed parties who are best placed to understand the characteristics and circumstances that are unique to each bioregion. Objectives should be easily understood, written in terms of what will be accomplished to attain a related goal, realistically achievable, time bound and measurable. It should be easy to associate objectives with management actions and measurable outcomes.
  • Additional consideration should be given to the network objectives of adjoining bioregions to ensure a measure of coast-wide consistency. This will enable coordinated identification of appropriate indicators for MPA network monitoring, thereby building collective understanding of how and why systems react to management actions or recover from stressors. Those involved in the planning process may also wish to define conservation targets that specify how much of each habitat, feature, function or value requires protection to achieve goals, relevant design principles and bioregional objectives.

Review Existing Marine Protected Areas and Identify Gaps

  • An inventory of existing marine areas with some level of protection will be taken to determine whether they meet MPA network eligibility criteria and to assess the extent to which they already cover representative habitats and ecosystems. The different habitat types found in a bioregion can be identified and delineated using existing habitat classification schemes based on best available physical and biological information. The review should also include the identification of other area-based management tools in the marine environment that can contribute to network goals with enhanced management and/or boundary modification. This step should lead to the identification of adequately and under-represented habitat types and ecologically and biologically significant areas.

Compile Best Available Scientific Data and Traditional and Local Knowledge

  • Marine protected areas network planning will be informed by information relating to ecological, environmental, social, cultural and economic aspects of the marine environment that is available without unreasonable cost, effort, or time. Standards should be developed to outline the quality requirements for the use of information in MPA planning. Important categories of spatial data may include:
    • Base maps: study region boundary, nautical charts, shoreline features, etc.;
    • Physical and bathymetric: depth contours, bathymetric imagery, submarine features, coastal watersheds, land cover, etc.;
    • Biological: habitats, ecologically and biologically significant areas, species occurrences or distributions, threats assessment, etc.;
    • Cultural: traditional harvest areas, historical sites, towns, harbours, ports, etc.;
    • Consumptive use: existing and future commercial fishing areas, recreational fishing areas, aquaculture, etc.;
    • Non-consumptive use: dive sites, kayaking areas, wildlife viewing, shipping lanes, etc.; and
    • Existing managed area: MPAs, fishery closures, Rockfish Conservation Areas, etc.

Identify Sites and Recommend Legislative Tool(s) for Area-Based Protection. Designate New MPAs and Amend Existing Ones as Appropriate

  • Giving consideration to current stressors and threats, every new MPA should be designated on the basis that it is representative of one or more habitats, ecosystems or ecologically and biologically significant areas or features in a manner consistent with the Canada-BC MPA Network Strategy planning principles. Recommendations will be made to Ministers for new MPAs (or amendments) following the statutory processes required to implement (or amend) the proposed legislative tool(s) and associated management measures.

Maintain and Monitor the MPA Network

  • The agency(ies) supporting the designation or amendment of an MPA will be responsible for developing and implementing management plans, in collaboration with First Nations and with input from local governments, stakeholders and the public. At a minimum, management plans should clearly define the purpose of the MPA, its goals and objectives and the actions to be taken to achieve goals and objectives. Plans should be subject to periodic review to assess effectiveness of the management regime in place as well as the site's contribution to network goals and objectives. Managing authorities should work in partnership with First Nations and others to develop and employ appropriate scientific skills, tools and training to systematically monitor MPAs and MPA networks. Increased monitoring should lead to increased knowledge about MPAs and networks, which can then enable an adaptive management approach.
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