Marine Protected Area Network for the North Pacific Coast

The Northern Shelf Bioregion Marine Protected Area Network planning process will establish a coastal network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for the north Pacific coast of British Columbia.

Led by 17 First Nations, the Province of BC and Canada, the process aims to protect the species and ecosystems underpinning our ocean economy.


An ecologically comprehensive, resilient and representative network of marine protected areas that protects the biological diversity and health of the marine environment for present and future generations.

Where is it?

The Northern Shelf Bioregion is one of 13 ecological bioregions identified for protection across Canada. The MPA network planning process covers the same geographic area as two other marine planning processes in our traditional waters:

Creating a Marine Protected Area Network in the Northern Shelf Bioregion

Coastal First Nations Governance

First Nations community plans for the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii have identified interconnected ocean areas for protection. Our standards of protection are high for the ecologically outstanding Great Bear region.

As governments with title, stewardship responsibilities, and constitutionally-protected rights, we are seeking:

  • A significant increase in the ocean area that is fully protected from commercial and industrial activity
  • Development of ecosystem-based measures to ensure that 100 per cent of our marine region is well-managed

MPA Network Goals

Six goals were developed as part of the Canada-B.C. Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network Strategy.  The three governing partners — 17 First Nations, Canada and BC— have adopted these goals for the Northern Shelf Bioregion (NSB) MPA Network planning process.

  1. To protect and maintain marine biodiversity, ecological representation and special natural features
  2. To contribute to the conservation and protection of fishery resources and their habitats
  3. To maintain and facilitate opportunities for tourism and recreation
  4. To contribute to social, community, and economic certainty and stability
  5. To conserve and protect traditional use, cultural heritage and archaeological resources
  6. To provide opportunities for scientific research, education and awareness


The Northern Shelf Bioregion Marine Protected Area Network planning process is being developed collaboratively by:

First Nations Governments with the Support of First Nations Organizations

  • Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative is providing a coordination, leadership and governance role to the NSB-MPA Network planning process (as directed by Gitga’at, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk, Metlakatla, and Wuikinuxv First Nations, and Council of the Haida Nation)
  • Central Coast Indigenous Resources Alliance (as directed by Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Heiltsuk, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv First Nations)
  • North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society (as directed by Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Kitsumkalum, Kitselas, Haisla, and Metlakatla First Nations)
  • Council of the Haida Nation (including Old Massett Village Council and Skidegate Band Council)
  • Nanwakolas Council (as directed by Mamalilikulla-Qwe’Qwa’Sot’Em, Tlowitsis, Da’nakda’xw-Awaetlatla, Wei Wai Kum, Kwiakah and the K’ómoks First Nations)

Government of Canada

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Environment Canada
  • Parks Canada
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • ​​​​​​​Transport Canada

Province of British Columbia

  • Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
  • Ministry of Environment
  • Ministry of Agriculture