Marine Protected Area Network Strategy for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion

PDF Document

Table of Contents

List of Initialisms and Acronyms

Convention on Biological Diversity
Conference of Parties
Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area
International Union for Conservation of Nature
Marine Protected Area
Protected Area
United Nations Environment Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
World Commission on Protected Areas


The important role of marine protected area networks in providing long-term conservation of marine biodiversity, ecosystem functions and special natural features is reflected in provincial, territorial, national and international commitments made by various government authorities. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is combining its efforts with those of other federal departments and the provinces (bordering the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence) with mandates, expertise or interest in establishing marine protected areas. The Oceans Act states:

“For the purposes of integrated oceans management, the Minister (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) will lead and coordinate the development and implementation of a national system (network) of Marine Protected Areas.”

This task is carried out on behalf of the Government of Canada.

Aboriginal groups and interested parties will be engaged in a marine protected area network development covering the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion. This initiative contributes to the continuing implementation of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Integrated Management PlanFootnote 1 published in 2013.

A platform for the coordination of efforts is needed at both national and regional levels. Wherever possible, the existing governance structures will be utilised. The various departments, each with different mandates, conservation measures and legal statutes, will be involved in network development. It is therefore necessary to establish a common basis for achieving the network objectives in a coordinated, coherent and effective way.

This strategy is developed as a guiding framework, designed to provide a comprehensive understanding for partners involved in the development of a Marine Protected Area Network in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion. It outlines the guidance needed to establish a marine protected area network in accordance with national and international recommendations and practiceswhile incorporating the visions and goals of the provinces and the Government of Canada. The strategy is also designed to standardize and clarify terminology and harmonize the various approaches to developing the marine protected area network.

The initialisms and acronyms used are presented at the beginning of this document, and key terms are defined in the glossary (Appendix 1).

International Context

In 2010, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) established aspirational targets (so called International Aichi Biodiversity Target) for members to achieve by the year 2020 including the Target 11 to conserve 10% of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures Footnote 2. Canada is a signatory to the CBD. To attempt to meet this target Canada developed its own set of biodiversity targets including one to conserve 10% of coastal and marine areas, through networks of marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures by 2020 Footnote 3. Meeting the 10% targets is not the endpoint of MPA network development. Rather, these targets provide a means for measuring and reporting Canada’s progress at national level in establishing conservation measures. However, Canada is employing an objectives-based approach to network development at the bioregional level, where the total conservation area coverage required to achieve network goals and objectives will be determined through bioregional network development processes. Thus, there is no formal percentage target for total area coverage at the bioregional level.

Date modified: