Marine Protection into the Future
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are one management tool that can help address human impacts on our oceans from overfishing, pollution and climate change.
Marine Protected Areas are ocean areas set aside – from sea floor to surface – for conservation. Like parks on land, they provide protection from activities such as commercial fishing, shipping and industrial activity.
Marine Protected Areas are defined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as: “A clearly defined geographical space recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.”
Effectively-managed MPAs can help:
- Protect coastal areas and species
- Support food security
- Protect coastal jobs
- Keep ecosystems productive and resilient
When used with other marine management tools – such as fishing closures and species protection – MPAs help protect, restore and replenish marine resources.
Marine Protected Areas
Marine areas already under protection include two conservation areas co-managed by the Council of the Haida Nation with Canada:
- Sgaan Kinglas/ Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area
- Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve
First Nations community marine use plans have identified a further number of interconnected ocean areas for protection. These follow the highest standards for MPAs established by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Our plans set out specific areas to protect based on the values our communities want to see protected. Identified as Protection Management Zones (PMZs) and Special Management Zone (SPMZs) these will serve multiple roles, ranging from:
- Full closures to all activity to;
- Community use only to;
- Exclusion zones for specific activities
Marine Protected Area Networks
The IUCN defines an MPA network as “a collection of individual marine protected areas that operates cooperatively and synergistically, at various spatial scales, and with a range of protection levels, in order to fulfill ecological aims more effectively and comprehensively than individual sites could alone.”
Protected as a whole, MPA networks can preserve marine values more effectively than individual sites do.
In our traditional waters, 17 First Nations are co-leading a planning process with Canada and the Province of BC for an MPA network for the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.
The Northern Shelf Bioregion Marine Protected Area Network planning process will establish a collection of interconnected Marine Protected Areas on the north Pacific coast. It will be designed to put in place protections for a full spectrum of First Nations traditional and harvesting uses, marine ecosystems and vulnerable species.