Marine Protected Area Network Strategy for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion

Marine Protected Area Network Strategy for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion

Marine Protected Area Network Strategy for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion (PDF, 6.76 MB)

Table of Contents

Design Elements of the Network


The goals of the Marine Protected Area Network for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion are consistent with the national goals as set out in the National Framework for Canada’s Network of Marine Protected Areas.

The primary goal of the bioregion MPA network is to provide long-term protection of marine biodiversity, ecosystem functions and special natural features of the marine environment.

The network also targets the following secondary goals consistent with attaining the primary goal

Network Design Properties and Components

These design properties and components are directly related to the primary goal. They echo the five properties and components (in bold below) of a representative network of marine protected areas as presented in Annex III of the document entitled UNEP/CBD (2007), commonly known as the Azores Report.

Give priority to Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas for protection within the network

Priority will be given to the protection of Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs), which are geographically or oceanographically well-defined areas that provide important services to one or more species or populations of an ecosystem. These areas meet at least one of the Convention on Biological Diversity (Annex II – Azores Report) or DFO scientific criteria for identifying these areas.

Ensure the full range of biodiversity within the bioregion

In order to maintain ecosystem resilience, the network will be, where possible, representative of the biotic and abiotic diversity of the marine environment. It will therefore consist of areas representing the various biogeographical subdivisions of the environment (by habitat or community) to reasonably reflect the full range of ecosystems in the area under consideration.

Ensure the conservation of ecological links between marine protected areas

Other Convention on Biological Diversity design properties will be considered in the network design. First, effort will be made to help maintain the connectivity between the various MPAs, which will allow MPAs within the network to benefit from one another and preserve functional links that already exist within the ecosystem (e.g., links between larval production areas and other areas required for subsequent stages of the life cycle).

Ensure the sustainability of the network

The network will be designed so that ecosystem resilience persists over time. The MPAs and other area-based management measures put in place will provide adequate protection to ensure the sustainability of the network.

For this reason, as additional design properties, sites should be adequate and viable (size, shape, etc.) to provide the maximum contribution to the network and ensure the sustainability of each marine protected area. For example, it is important to make certain that the individual MPAs in the network will be of sufficient size to reach the objectives for the area and the network as a whole. Where possible, the shape of each marine protected area will also be considered so as to respect ecological boundaries, prevent habitat fragmentation and facilitate management, follow-up and monitoring.

Replication of particular ecological features (conservation priority) within the network will make it less vulnerable to threats from human activity or unforeseen natural events, which will favour the long-term maintenance of the network.

Strategic Conservation Objectives

The strategic conservation objectives largely reflect the selection criteria identified in the Azores Report.

Economic, Social and Cultural Considerations

Economic, social and cultural benefits can result from the development of a network and the establishment of marine protected areas or other conservation measures, but may also generate actual or potential costs to activities incompatible with the conservation objectives of the MPA network. The integration of economic, social and cultural considerations is an important component of the network design process.

The goals and guiding principles of the network guide the incorporation of economic, social and cultural elements into the network design. An open and transparent dialogue with interested parties is sought in order to:

Throughout the network development process, interested parties, particularly Aboriginal groups and key stakeholders, have the opportunity to:

Given the size of the bioregion and the number of stakeholders, information sessions and targeted meetings will be implemented and existing forums will be used to the extent possible.

The inclusion of ecological, economic and social information helps in designing a network that can maximize conservation efforts while minimizing negative impacts. The result of the process will be an MPA network design in map form. This design will be a decisionmaking support tool that could help the various jurisdictions with mandates and responsibilities related to the MPAs and could facilitate the identification of potential sites of interest for the creation of future MPAs or the implementation of other conservation measures. It will also allow industries to better predict future actions to conserve these sites of interest and facilitate the development planning of their activities.

It is important to mention that, in a future process to create a marine protected area, an economic impacts assessment as well as an extensive consultation process will be conducted by responsible authorities for each of the specific sites of interest selected.

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