ABCs of MPAs

Marine protected areas (MPAs) can be as easy as your ABCs. MPA's are geographically defined regions in the ocean where the ecosystem is given greater protection than the surrounding waters. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are used to manage, protect and restore wildlife, habitats and culturally important areas—like parks for the ocean.

A - What are MPAs?

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are used to manage, protect and restore wildlife, habitats and culturally important areas—like parks for the ocean. MPAs come in many types: the size, level of protection, and permitted human uses can vary from one to the next. Protection is most effective when these areas are designed as a network of geographically distinct, yet connected, sites that function together. MPA networks are designed to protect multiple examples of each type of habitat within a region, and be connected, so migratory species can move easily between protected areas. MPA networks protect a larger area and safeguard entire ecosystems rather than individual geographically designated areas. The most effective MPAs and MPA networks are large, permanent, well-enforced, and prohibit harmful and extractive activities like oil and gas activities, mining, dumping, bottom trawling and other forms of commercial fishing.

B - Where should MPAs Exist?

In 2014, the World Park Congress recommended protecting at least 30% of the world’s oceans to recover fisheries and maintain or restore biodiversity and ecosystem services, though some studies indicate it may be closer to 50%. Currently, only 14% of Canada’s marine environment is protected – and much less is strongly protected from harmful or extractive activities – even though we have the world’s longest coastline. The three oceans that border Canada’s coasts are home to thousands of species of marine animals and plants. Their habitats include icefields, archipelagos, salt marshes, and fjords. In particular, the Northern Shelf Bioregion, which includes the waters of British Columbia’s north and central coasts and Haida Gwaii, contains spectacularly biodiverse and productive ocean environments that are worthy of protection.

C - Who creates the MPAs in the great Bear rainforest?

The creation of a new MPA or MPA network can affect many people. MPAs with a higher level of community support have better conservation outcomes, because the people living and working near MPAs are more likely to follow the rules when they see the benefits to the environment and their livelihoods. For this reason, the MPA design process includes consultation with diverse stakeholders. In the waters of the Great Bear Rainforest, seventeen First Nations are working with the Federal and Provincial governments to protect parts of the marine environment in a network of MPAs. The Northern Shelf Bioregion MPA Network planning process incorporates feedback from many sectors, including conservation, tourism, fishing, shipping, and other industries. 

tell minister murray you support #30by30

To help protect B.C.’s incredible biodiversity and coastal ecosystems sign our petition and support the #30by30 MPA campaign. You can learn more about MPAs and the Northern Shelf Bioregion Marine Protected Area Network by exploring the CPAW B.C. interactive Story Map site. Let’s do our part to protect 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030!