Marine Protected Areas

on June 15, 2011

Canada agreed under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in 2006 to conserve 10% of marine ecological regions by 2012. Presently Canada protects 1% of the oceans and Great Lakes.  The Oceans Act tasks the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) with a lead role in the development and implementation of a national system of marine protected areas in Canada. A range of legislative and regulatory tools at the federal, provincial and municipal levels exists to establish marine protected areas.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) will be starting the bioregional planning process in 2011-2012 which will begin to identify potential MPA sites. ESU-Fisheries will advocate for mutually-beneficial dialogue between DFO and First Nations to encourage the establishment of MPAs that compliment First Nation rights and interests.

MPA Key Issues:

  • MPAs may infringe upon Aboriginal rights and title when the establishment of an MPA limits the ability to harvest in the area. MPA designation may also restrict First Nations’ management authority of the area.
  • When traditional fishing activities are permitted, MPAs may compliment Aboriginal rights by preventing activities such as ocean dumping, undersea mining, oil and gas exploration and development, which can damage the ecosystem’s ability to support populations of fish and other aquatic food species.

AFN presents information on MPAs at all national fisheries forums and seeks feedback from participants through round table or break out group discussions.

More discussion is required to ensure that First Nations are able to continue to access their traditional fisheries in order to sustain their culture, traditions, and local economies.

Strong engagement and awareness will allow DFO and First Nations to create community-based conservation plans that ensure long-term conservation, access, and economic stability.

Find out your bioregion on this map


Assembly of First NationsMarine Protected Areas
Assembly of First Nations