OTTAWA, Oct. 16, 2018 /CNW/ - Today, the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards released its Final Report and recommendations to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
Established in the Spring of 2018, the Panel's mandate was to gather perspectives and offer recommendations to the Minister on categories and associated protection standards for federal Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) using International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidance as a baseline. They were also invited to examine relevant recommendations of the Indigenous Circle of Experts and its recommendations on the concept of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas.
Currently, the nature of the activities allowed or prohibited within each federally regulated MPA depends on the regulatory tool and authorities used to create the MPA. The Panel recommends that a minimum protection standard be applied in all federal MPAs prohibiting industrial activities such as oil and gas exploration and exploitation, mining, dumping and bottom trawling. The Panel further recommends that if industrial activities are allowed to occur in areas Canada counts as "other effective area-based conservation measures", that the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard must be satisfied that any risks to important biodiversity values in these areas are avoided or mitigated.
The Panel makes a suite of recommendations on improving the process of MPA establishment and management that are focused on meaningful engagement and involvement of coastal communities and stakeholders at all stages of the process. The Panel further recommends transparency and encourages the government to report on details to support MPA effectiveness through an online database.
Fundamental to all of the Panel recommendations is the concept of enhanced Crown-Indigenous Relations. The Panel recommends that Indigenous peoples be treated as full and equal partners in marine conservation, and makes bold new recommendations for the recognition of Indigenous Protected Areas in law, permanent and long-term funding of those areas, and enhanced education and capacity for Indigenous peoples through innovative partnerships and coastal guardian and stewardship programs.
Through our process and hearings, we have heard that there is a need for flexibility in Canada's approach to marine conservation beyond protected area boundaries. The concept of marine spatial planning was not included in our terms of reference, but we believe that this is an avenue that merits further attention. Therefore, we recommend that the federal government consult with Canadians on potential approaches to marine spatial planning in each of Canada's ocean regions.
The full report can be viewed at: National Advisory Panel on MPA Standards Final Report
"Indigenous Protected Areas present a very important way forward for the future of Indigenous peoples in Canada. This exciting new concept provides Canada with an opportunity to focus on the needs, realities and deep opportunities of ocean-dependent communities when planning the future of our oceans. Indigenous peoples add tremendous value to the broader marine conservation landscape, and risk more when marine areas are compromised. They must be given a place at the table as Canada works towards its marine conservation target."
"Minimum protection standards may improve marine protected area effectiveness and support Canada's international leadership in the protection of our oceans. Adoption of our recommendations would enable Canada's marine protected areas to meet the highest international standards in ocean management, while allowing the regional flexibility necessary for essential economic activities to continue to occur within OECMs. "
- The seven-member National Advisory Panel was co-chaired by Mary Simon and Rémi Bujold.
- The panel heard from over 125 individuals from meetings in 7 locations across the country, as well as through online written submissions. This offered an opportunity to provinces, territories, Indigenous groups and stakeholders to provide their expertise and views.
- The Panel makes 13 recommendations to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. Recommendations focus on minimum protection standards in federal marine protected areas, including Oceans Act Marine Protected Areas and marine refuges established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, National Marine Conservation Areas established by Parks Canada, and National Wildlife Areas established by Environment and Climate Change Canada. It also makes recommendations on better engagement, stronger governance, and robust MPA planning, on the emerging concept of Indigenous Protected Areas, and on marine spatial planning.
SOURCE National Advisory Panel
For further information: Hilary Ibey, Manager, National Advisory Panel Secretariat, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Hilary.Ibey@dfo-mpo.gc.ca, 613-295-1022