Marine Protected Area Network Planning

This initiative is focused on the design and planning for a marine protected area network for the Northern Shelf Bioregion.


Planning for a network of marine protected areas is beginning for the Northern Shelf Bioregion – one of twelve marine bioregions across the country. An MPA network is “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” (IUCN).


The Northern Shelf Bioregion Marine Protected Area Network planning process aims to build a network of MPAs that will help to ensure that future generations will inherit the beauty and productivity of the Pacific Ocean. First Nations support the establishment of a MPA network that:

  • Incorporates collaborative oceans management from planning through establishment and management;
  • Contributes to First Nations’ access to marine resources for food, social and ceremonial purposes;
  • Protects and sustains healthy and resilient marine ecosystems that can contend with the stresses of human impacts including climate change;
  • Supports economic opportunities, enabling local communities to continue to earn a living from the ocean.

In addition, MPA network planning aligns with priority actions outlined in the Haida Gwaii Marine Plan.


The Northern Shelf Bioregion extends from the Canada–U.S. border in the north, west to the toe of the continental shelf off of Haida Gwaii, to Brooks Peninsula on northwest Vancouver Island and Quadra Island in the south.


Seventeen First Nations, including the Haida Nation, are working cooperatively with the Government of Canada and BC to lead development of a MPA network for the Northern Shelf Bioregion. Participation, consultation and information exchange with marine stakeholders, coastal communities, and the public will also take place throughout the planning process.


In progress. The Haida Gwaii Marine Plan identifies Protection Management Zones within the Haida Gwaii planning area, and it is expected that this earlier planning work will make important contributions to the MPA network planning process for the Northern Shelf Bioregion.