Laurentian Channel Area of Interest - What is a Marine Protected Area?
A Marine Protected Area (MPA), under the Oceans Act, is a geographically defined area in the ocean dedicated and managed for the long-term conservation and protection of marine species and their habitat.
The identification of an Area of Interest (AOI) is the first step towards establishing a MPA. It demonstrates Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO’s) intention to evaluate this part of the ocean in order to decide whether or not it meets the MPA criteria and if it is the most appropriate management tool. It also begins the Department’s process of involving other governments and stakeholders for their advice.
Each MPA is established for different reasons and there are many types of MPAs in Canada. While some areas are closed to human activity all the time, others are just closed seasonally, safeguarding the area at specific times of the year. Other areas may allow multiple human use, and some combine closed areas with larger multiple use areas.
Regardless of management measures used, MPAs play a critical role in the protection and conservation of fish and marine mammal habitats, endangered marine species, unique features, and areas of high biological productivity or biodiversity.
What are the Steps in Creating a Marine Protected Area?
- Step 1: Select the Area of Interest – Focusing on priority areas of ecological and biological significance, apply ecological, socio-economic and feasibility criteria to select a site with conservation value, while minimizing impacts on resource users. Seek preliminary endorsement from interested parties through consultations.
- Step 2: Conduct an Overview and Assessment of the AOI – Collect information on ecological, social, cultural and economic factors for the AOI and assess how these ecological, social, cultural and economic aspects interact. Use this information to determine whether an Oceans Act MPA is the best approach for protecting the area.
- Step 3: Develop and Consult on the Regulatory Intent – Finalize conservation objectives for the MPA and identify and consult on the management approach needed to meet these objectives. Obtain information on costs and benefits of the proposed management measures.
- Step 4: Develop Regulatory Documents - Complete a Triage Questionnaire, drafting instructions, regulations, a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement and a Regulatory Communications Plan. Proceed to pre-publication in Canada Gazette, Part I for public comment and final designation.
- Step 5: Manage the MPA - Develop a plan for managing the MPA and implementing the MPA regulations.
Will a Marine Protected Area impact resource users?
Oceans Act MPAs can allow human activities and resource use to occur provided they do not compromise the conservation goals of the area. In working with various governments and stakeholders, DFO seeks advice to refine conservation objectives and develop strategies to minimize potential conflicts between MPAs and various resource users prior to designation.
If there are no alternative solutions, human activities that go against the conservation objectives of the MPA will not be permitted.
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