Guidance and Lessons Learned for Canada's Marine Protected Area Networks

Proceedings of a national workshop held in Ottawa in January 2008

2.0 Purpose and Details of the Workshop

2.1 Purpose of workshop on establishing networks of MPAs

As discussed in section 1, Canada committed nationally and internationally to establish, by 2012, MPA networks comprising representative areas, as well as areas that protect ecologically significant habitats, species, and ecosystem components. Each of the Canadian authorities mandated to establish MPAs has different but complementary objectives for their designation (table 1). Without the necessary coordination and interaction among agencies working towards common ecological goals, there would be patchworks of individual MPAs instead of linked MPA networks, which is less effective from an ecological standpoint.

Cooperation, exchange of information, and commitment among authorities mandated to establish MPAs, as well as among relevant stakeholders, are at the heart of Canada's proposed approach.

The overall purpose of the workshop was to allow the federal, provincial, and territorial Canadian authorities and stakeholders involved in the design and implementation of MPA networks to jointly access, share, and explore the growing body of international knowledge and experience in the planning of MPA networks.

The workshop explored Canada's international commitments to establish MPA networks, the guidance that has been developed to help countries meet their international commitments, and the experiences of others in trying to act on this guidance in their own jurisdictions. The workshop was intended to create a common ground and create inspiration for what Canada's nascent national system of MPA networks might become.

2.2 Organization of the workshop

Because conservation of marine biodiversity is the primary goal of MPA networks, ecological considerations lie at the heart of designing them. Identifying what areas will be protected and what management regime various areas require will largely depend on the ecological criteria used to determine an MPA network. To get a clear idea of what these considerations encompass, the workshop was focused on identifying what ecological criteria and design processes are critical to establishing an MPA network. To achieve this objective, the workshop was organized to include the following:

  • Identification and exchange of international guidance documents on MPA network design as developed by, among others, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the European Union (EU), and the IUCN/World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA);
  • Identification and exchange of good practices that illustrate how MPA networks can be successfully designed and implemented. Good practices included experience in implementing MPA networks in Australia, New Zealand, California, and Germany in the context of the Oslo-Paris Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR);
  • In-depth, small-group discussions on the ecological design criteria of MPA networks, derived from the IUCN/WCPA self-assessment checklist,Footnote 9 and their application to the Canadian context; and
  • In-depth, small-group discussions on the lessons learned from international experience in MPA network design and implementation. Particular attention was paid to the lessons learned.

However, a range of other considerations needs to be taken into account to successfully design and implement MPA networks:Footnote 10

  • Economic and social considerations: MPA networks need to be integrated into the broader economic and socio-cultural setting. When implementing an MPA network, it is critical that the economic and social costs and benefits for people living in and around the MPA, or those dependent on the goods and services derived from the area, are identified and integrated in the MPA management process.
  • Spatial and temporal considerations: The success of an MPA network is closely related to what is happening outside its boundaries. MPA networks therefore need to account for connectivity within and between networks, as well as for the impacts of activities outside network boundaries.
  • Scientific information and management considerations: To successfully meet the objectives of an MPA network, its design and implementation depend on developing and employing appropriate scientific skills, tools, training, and partnerships.
  • Institutional and governance considerations: Effective coordination and linkages across various agencies, governments, and jurisdictions are essential to ensure that MPA networks are sustainable over time.

Despite the focus of the workshop on ecological considerations, successful design and implementation of MPA networks needs to take these economic, social, and cultural considerations into account as well. The links between biological values and economic, social, and cultural values cannot be ignored and often play a critical role in the ultimate success and sustainability of any MPA network.

2.3 Participation

About 40 people attended the workshop, including scientists, MPA network planners, and decision makers from Canada and other parts of the world. Participants were invited on the basis of: (1) their practical experience in designing and implementing MPA networks; and (2) their involvement in establishing MPA networks in Canada.

A complete list of participants and their contact information is provided in Appendix C.

2.4 Workshop findings

Section 3 summarizes the presentations, panels, and small-group discussions relating to the current good practices guidance and reference materials that support countries in meeting their MPA network planning commitments. Section 4 summarizes what has been learned and achieved by those jurisdictions that were invited to share their respective initiatives. Section 5 presents some of the key findings from the core organizing committee.

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