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

Appendix 1. Marine Ecosystem Stressors in the North East Pacific

Marine ecosystems of Pacific Canada face several challenges including habitat alteration, resource use pressure, land and sea-based pollutants, invasive species and larger scale impacts related to global climate change. Cumulative effects of multiple stressors further compound the need to take conservation action. Examples of marine ecosystem stressors include, but are not limited to:

Habitat Alteration

The alteration, deterioration or degradation of habitat has a significant impact on marine ecosystems. Habitats may be damaged through activities such as dredging and filling, ocean dumping, log storage, resource extraction, bottom fishing, anchoring, cable laying, development

marine area


Marine Species Harvest

Impacts of aquatic species harvest may include the removal of a species or group of species either through targeted fishing pressure or as by-catch, thus impacting multiple trophic levels; physical impacts to habitat associated with harvest techniques or gear or anchoring of vessels and impacts of lost 'ghost' gear.


Sources of thermal, chemical and sound pollution include sedimentation, sewage, dredging, non-degradable litter (e.g. plastics), resource extraction, vessel emissions (including accidental spills) and organic deposition (e.g. freshwater, agriculture or aquaculture introductions). Impacts of pollution in the marine environment include habitat damage and loss, increased mortality and health risks to aquatic species and bioaccumulation of toxicity in the food chain.

Aquatic Invasive Species

The introduction of foreign or exotic marine species may alter the composition of biological communities on the Pacific Coast. Intertidal and coastal areas of Pacific Canada include invasive species such as tunicates and harmful marine algae. Some species were introduced at the turn of the century while others are a more recent invasion, such as the northward expansion of the green crab into BC's waters.

Climate Change and Ocean Acidification

In the Strait of Georgia, sea surface temperatures have been increasing at a rate of 1°C over 90 years, based on lighthouse records gathered throughout southern British Columbia. Ocean warming in the Pacific Region may be a stressor for aquatic ecosystems through changes including altered oxygen concentrations, oceanographic conditions and primary productivity. Species assemblage changes may occur at multiple trophic levels and cold water species may have reduced survival or overall condition as well as changes to habitat range or depth strata that provide optimal conditions for survival.

In addition, a major reduction in the pH at the entrance to the Juan de Fuca Strait has recently been documented. Such changes reduce the availability of calcium carbonate for organisms to build hard shells (e.g. mussels, corals and some phytoplankton). In extreme cases, changes in ocean chemistry may corrode organisms' shells and skeletons.

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