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National Framework for Canada's Network of Marine Protected Areas

National Framework for Canada's Network of Marine Protected Areas

National Framework for Canada's Network of Marine Protected Areas (PDF, 845 KB)

Table of Contents

On September 1, 2011, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial members of the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers reviewed and approved in principle this National Framework for Canada's Network of Marine Protected Areas.

This document was prepared with the involvement of a federal, provincial and territorial Oceans Task Group ( OTG ). Members of the OTG  who actively participated in development of the document represented the Governments of:

(Canada) Fisheries and Oceans Canada ( OTG  co-chair); Parks Canada; Environment Canada; and, Province of British Columbia ( OTG  co-chair), Province of Manitoba; Province of New Brunswick; Province of Newfoundland and Labrador; Province of Nova Scotia; Province of Ontario; Province of Prince Edward Island; Northwest Territories; Nunavut Territory; and, Yukon Territory.


The National Framework for Canada's Network of Marine Protected Areas (National Framework) provides strategic direction for the design of a national network of marine protected areas (MPAs) that will be composed of a number of bioregional networks. This is an important step towards meeting Canada's domestic and international commitments to establish a national network of marine protected areas by 2012. The National Framework outlines the proposed overarching vision and goals of the national network; establishes the network components, design properties, and eligibility criteria for which areas will contribute to the network; describes the proposed network governance structure; and provides the direction necessary to promote national consistency in bioregional network planning. The document has been drafted by a federal-provincial-territorial government Technical Experts Committee established by the Oceans Task GroupFootnote 1 that reports to the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers.

Consultation on the National Framework began in August 2009 and incorporated 10 weeks of web-based public review that ended in late February 2011. Comments from federal-provincial-territorial government agencies; national Aboriginal, industry and non-government organizations; academia and the public at large have been considered in preparing this final version being submitted for approval by the Canadian Council of Fisheries and Aquaculture Ministers.

Figures and Tables

Figure 1. Large Ocean Management Areas and Bioregions for Canada's National Network of Marine Protected Areas

Table 1. Federal/provincial /territorial legislation or regulation under which protected areas or related marine management measures are established

1. Introduction

This National Framework for Canada's Network of Marine Protected Areas provides strategic direction for establishment of a national network of marine protected areas that conforms to international best practices and helps to achieve broader conservation and sustainable development objectives identified through Integrated Oceans Management and other marine spatial planning processes. Key terms used in this document are defined in the Glossary (Annex 1).

The important role of marine protected area networks in protecting marine biodiversity is reflected in a number of national and international commitments. Federally, the 1996 Oceans Act assigns responsibility to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to lead and coordinate development and implementation of a national system (or network) of marine protected areas on behalf of the Government of Canada, within the context of integrated management of estuarine, coastal and marine environments. Canada's Oceans Strategy (2002) and the corresponding Canada's Oceans Action Plan (2005) and Health of the Oceansfunding (2007) all further committed the government to making significant progress in planning and advancing a national marine protected area network in Canada's three oceans. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada and Environment Canada each have specific but complementary mandates for establishing marine protected areas (MPAs). In 2005 the Ministers of these federal agencies released Canada's Federal Marine Protected Areas StrategyFootnote 2, which outlines how their respective marine protected area programs can collectively contribute to a network.

The provinces and territories with marine waters are important partners in marine protected area network planning. Their mandates include conservation and protection of the environment and cultural resources, natural resource management, commerce, economics, and social wellness. In some cases joint management arrangements in marine areas have also been established. In November 1992, the federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for the Environment, Parks and Wildlife signed A Statement of Commitment to Complete Canada's Networks of Protected Areas, which stated: “ … in the interest of present and future generations of Canadians, Council members will make every effort to complete Canada's networks of protected areas representative of land-based natural regions, by the year 2000 and accelerate the protection of areas that are representative of marine natural regions.”

Key among other domestic and global commitments Canada has made to establishing a national network of marine protected areas are the following:

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