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

Network Design Phases

The creation of the network for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion is consistent with the previously defined guiding principles and design elements and also the National Framework for Canada’s Network of Marine Protected Areas. It will involve several major elements that are described in Appendix 2 of this document.

Identify and Involve Interested Parties Throughout the Process

In the spirit of promoting understanding, support and participation, interested parties will continue to be informed throughout the MPA network initiative. Communication activities provide proper explanation on the initiative and clear descriptions of governmental obligations related to network creation. This includes providing the rationale for the various stages of the process, communicating the expected results of the network and clarifying the relationship between this initiative and other existing projects and processes currently underway in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion.

To begin the dialogue between the federal and provincial governments with roles and responsibilities for marine protected area development, existing governance mechanisms are used (e.g. the Bilateral Group on Marine Protected Areas in the DFO Québec Region, the agreed upon bilateral federal-provincial processes in the DFO Gulf Region or the Regional Oversight Committee on Oceans Management in the DFO Newfoundland and Labrador Region).

Specific approaches for engaging Aboriginal groups will be implemented including existing mechanisms and protocols for consulting where applicable throughout the process.

For engaging key stakeholders (e.g. industry, non-governmental organizations and academia), the use of existing committees and working groups or other participation approaches, including bilateral discussions or workshops on specific issues, are pursued when appropriate.

This engagement approach will be used throughout the MPA network development and implementation process.

Determine the Strategic Conservation Objectives and Guiding Economic and Social Principles

As mentioned in the previous section, the strategic conservation objectives have been determined based on the criteria identified in the Azores Report. Economic and social principles that have been selected are among the guiding principles outlined earlier in the Guiding Principles Section of this document, namely, to recognize and consider the economic, social and cultural aspects and minimize the negative economic and social impacts of network implementation. Determining strategic conservation objectives and economic and social principles is a critical step in the process and has a major influence on the development of network design.

Gather, Map and Analyze the Best Available Ecological, Economic, Social and Cultural Information

The best available data for the marine environment are compiled, sorted, processed and mapped during this phase. Scientific reports and databases are the primary sources of information. Supporting data are collected from government departments (federal and provincial), organizations, groups or other stakeholders that have a connection to the marine environment, with preference for data that covers all of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion to avoid fragmented data.

Ecological information consists of oceanographic data and information on a wide range of marine species (e.g., fish, seabirds, marine mammals, invertebrates, etc.) and habitats (e.g., coral and sponge concentrations, salt marshes, eelgrass beds, special natural features, etc.) and is linked to the strategic conservation objectives for the network.

It is also at this stage of the process that economic, social and cultural considerations must be documented and integrated into network design. A detailed inventory of marine uses for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion is compiled and organized by the type and level of use, and their distributions. The goal is to minimize negative impacts of the network on human activities. Review of maps of human activities and ecological data can provide a summary assessment of the locations where biological components are under most intense pressure and can also show areas that have ecological value and where human activities are limited.

The collaboration of scientists and experts is critical at this stage since they provide subject matter expertise and help validate the methodology used to integrate the data layers. Meetings and consultation workshops must therefore be organized with scientists and experts at this stage of the process.

Aboriginal groups and key stakeholders are also invited to participate in the process to assist in the completion of economic, social and cultural data compilation (providing opportunity to include information that may have been unknown to scientists and experts). This is recognized as a critical component of the network design process to complement the methods, criteria, and mapping techniques used to integrate this information into the network design.

Define Marine Protected Area Network Design Options

MPA network scenarios are maps of potential designs for the bioregional network of MPAs which identifies areas for inclusion in the network, and which is developed in accordance with consideration of network design properties and principles. If these areas are effectively and efficiently protected, the pre-defined conservation objectives will likely be achieved.

Areas of high conservation value are identified via the decision support tool (spatial analysis), taking into consideration ecological and biological information. In seeking to understand and mitigate the possible social and economic impacts of each proposed area and contribute to the secondary goals of the network, economic, social and cultural data are also included in the analysis. This involves taking into account the ecological, economic, social, and cultural information to generate network scenarios that still reach the conservation objectives and contribute to positive long term economic and social impacts and incorporate cultural features, while minimizing shortterm negative economic and social impacts to the extent possible.

The involvement of Aboriginal groups and interested parties is sought at this stage. The scenarios are presented and discussed to refine them according to relevant additional knowledge and concerns they may have.

In addition to MPAs, there are various types of other effective area based conservation measures in Canada’s oceans that may be considered for inclusion in the network. A gap analysis of these conservation management tools is then undertaken to identify which areas in the network design are left unprotected or do not carry sufficient protection to meet conservation objectives. In some cases, it may be necessary to adjust the management regimes of certain existing sites to enhance their conservation value. This gap analysis also helps determine where new MPAs or other conservation measures could potentially be implemented to complete the network design and achieve strategic conservation objectives.

Develop a Marine Protected Area Network Design

Once the gap analysis is completed, the potential network scenarios are established and key interested parties are consulted, an MPA network design can be identified.

Following the completion of the analysis of the conservation management tools and the identification of gaps, conservation measures or legal statutes that may be applied are proposed for each unprotected area (gap) in the network design. Since the network cannot be established all at once, it is appropriate to identify priority conservation areas that will receive earliest protection as network implementation proceeds. For example, sites where parts of the ecological environment are threatened or subject to high anthropogenic pressure may be identified as priority conservation areas. Risk is one of many factors used to prioritize which areas in the network will be protected first. However, it is important to note that an area does not have to be at risk to be protected in the network (e.g. pristine areas, significant ecological importance, significant cultural importance, among others). The prioritization will be determined during implementation.

Implement the Network Design by the Responsible Authorities

The implementation of the network design is the duty of the responsible authorities who act according to their own mandates, priorities and timelines. Moreover, each authority responsible for establishing a marine protected area or other conservation measure does so in accordance with its own legal and policy framework.

The network implementation will occur over time based on available resources and assessment of available conservation measures to achieve the conservation objectives established for an individual site.

The responsible authorities will undertake consultations for each area of interest for the creation of future MPAs or other conservation measures. For Fisheries and Oceans Canada this action will occur at a Regional basis within the Bioregion.

Manage and Monitor the Marine Protected Area Network

A monitoring program that promotes adaptive management is implemented to determine whether conservation measures in the network enable network goals and objectives to be achieved. Scientific advice may be necessary to identify indicators for monitoring marine protected area and network objectives.

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