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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

10. Bioregional MPA Network Planning

10.1 Governance

Governance for MPA network planning will be established at the bioregional scale, preferably using existing multi-sector Integrated Oceans Management governance structures developed within the fiveLOMAs described in Section 6. The general IOM governance model includes an executive-level oversight committee, a director-level management committee, a stakeholder advisory committee and a technical working group. MPA network planning is already encompassed within the mandates of the government agencies participating in these bodies. In some instances there are Memoranda of Understanding in place that identify conservation planning as a specific area of collaboration (e.g., between Canada and British Columbia; between Canada and Nova Scotia). For the purpose of developing a bioregional MPAnetwork, it is anticipated that a bioregional network planning team will be formed (perhaps as a sub-group of the technical working group) composed of federal and provincial/territorial government representatives working in partnership.

In the bioregions that do not have adequate IOM governance associated with them, there may be other existing governance processes to build on. In the eastern Arctic, for example, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement sets out legal requirements for governance. In the Great Lakes, the Canada-United States International Joint CommissionFootnote 14 could be approached as a potential forum for marine protected area network planning. Where there are new governance processes to work out, it will take longer to establish relationships and get underway with marine protected area network planning. Even within the bioregions that do have adequate IOM governance associated with them, it may be easier to make progress by focusing initially on network planning within the LOMAs, then expanding to the rest of the bioregion(s) in a subsequent planning phase.

Individual jurisdictions will participate in bioregional network planning within their areas of accountability and through their respective planning and reporting processes. Government agencies, Aboriginal groups, economic stakeholders (fishing, oil and gas, renewable energy, aquaculture, shipping and other industries), environmental stakeholders (e.g., non-government organizations) and other interested parties vary regionally and need to be effectively engaged from the onset of network planning. Since conservation needs already exist, processes currently underway to identify and establish new MPAs will continue while network planning gains momentum.

National MPA program coordination will be maintained in the long-term to ensure that bioregional network planning evolves with appropriate national consistency, as well as to coordinate Canada's efforts with those of the international community. National coordination encompasses information sharing on progress and best practices across the bioregions.

10.2 Planning Process for Bioregional Networks of Marine Protected Areas

Once an MPA network planning team has been struck formally by engaging the relevant federal, provincial and territorial government agencies, a process similar to the eight-step process described below could be followed, in adherence to the Guiding Principles (see Section 8), to plan the bioregional network.

  1. Identify and involve stakeholders and others. The planning team identifies and invites additional government bodies, Aboriginal groups, stakeholders and other interested parties to be directly involved in the planning process from the onset and throughout, building on existing governance structures and processes.
  2. Compile available information. Existing scientific, traditional, economic and community information for the bioregion (e.g., ecosystem and species status reports, research studies, natural resources assessments, human activity atlases, traditional use studies, and reports from consultation sessions) is compiled, analysed and geo-referenced for mapping. Knowledge gaps and science/research needs are identified.
  3. Set clear, measurable network objectives and conservation targets for each bioregion. Objectives for the bioregional network are identified, consistent with national MPA network goals. Consideration is given to the network objectives of adjoining bioregions to maximize synergistic effects. Conservation targets are defined to specify (and prioritize) how much of each ecological feature, function, or value needs to be protected within the network.
  4. Apply network design features and properties, identify areas of high conservation value and perform gap analysis. Internationally recognised network design features and properties are applied to develop a preliminary bioregional network design (see Section 9). This preliminary bioregional network design identifies multiple areas of high conservation value that collectively satisfy the network objectives and conservation targets. Conservation planning software may be employed at this stage to optimize network design from an ecological perspective. A gap analysis is then undertaken to determine where existing MPAs and other protection measures overlap with priority areas and where new MPAs or other conservation tools are needed in order to complete protection within the bioregional network. The gap analysis should identify where existing protection measures fall short and if there is any overlap or duplication in current protection. Network design is an iterative process that continues in the next step.
  5. Consider potential economic and social impacts; finalize network design. In the determination of where MPAs and other conservation tools are needed, seek to understand and minimize potential economic and social consequences. However, flexibility in placement of an MPA will not always be possible (e.g., unique habitats such as underwater canyon or hydrothermal vent). Conservation planning software may be employed again at this stage to support discussions with stakeholders and the public and inform decision-making. The software can produce different MPA network scenarios (e.g., by altering targets) that allow people to visualize possible network designs. Design of the network is finalized.
  6. Finalize a bioregional network action plan that includes the network sites, appropriate conservation measures and responsible authorities. Bioregional network planners and partners identify priorities for action and the specific network gaps that their individual mandates allow them to address. A bioregional network of marine protected areas action plan for moving forward is finalized. The network action plan should include estimated budget and resource requirements. The action plan could also identify ecologically meaningful targets for the percent of a bioregion to be protected by a specific date.
  7. Undertake site-specific planning and implementation. Bioregional network planners and partners develop new conservation measures, including MPAs, according to the bioregional network action plan and their individual priorities and resources. Seek to understand and minimize potential economic and social consequences at the site-specific level (i.e., zoning and other management approaches can be applied to respond to socio-economic concerns), using existing information. Public involvement is an essential element of this step.
  8. Manage and monitor the MPA network. Once the network starts to take shape, ongoing research, monitoring and adaptive management will be needed to ensure management practices are achieving network goals and objectives. This monitoring should be above and beyond monitoring that takes place at the site level. Reporting to Canadians on the effectiveness of bioregional networks of marine protected areas in achieving their stated goals and objectives will occur routinely.
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