Photo by Karen and Ralf Meyer, Greenfire Productions

Canada, British Columbia, and partner First Nations agree that consultation and engagement with the people who work, live and play in the Northern Shelf Bioregion (NSB) will be critical to the success of the NSB Marine Protected Area (MPA) network. The governing partners are seeking to engage stakeholders through a transparent and credible process that promotes trust and respect between governments, stakeholders, and communities.

NSB MPA network planning aims to be an inclusive process that provides opportunities for interested parties to become involved. Opportunities for engagement will align with the multiple stages of the network planning process. Stakeholders and local governments will have an advisory role, providing information on activities and interests as they relate to the network planning process. This information will be provided through multiple mechanisms, including advisory committees and webinars.

Engagement Principles

Engagement during the NSB MPA network planning process will strive to achieve broad involvement of stakeholders and local governments, building on the following principles. These principles are intended to ensure that meaningful opportunities for participation, consultation and information exchange are provided throughout the planning process.

Responsive and respectful

  • Value and acknowledge stakeholders’ and local governments’ contribution to improving outcomes
  • Actively listen to, document, understand and, where possible, respond to needs
  • Conduct engagement activities in a manner that fosters mutual respect and trust


  • Seek to engage with individuals, organizations, and communities that represent the full diversity of those who have an interest in the MPA network
  • Take advantage of relevant, existing advisory committees to solicit feedback, where possible

Open and transparent

  • Provide information so stakeholders and local governments can participate in a meaningful way
  • Create a culture that fosters the sharing of ideas Communicate clearly the purpose, goals, accountabilities, expectations and constraints of the process
  • Communicate back to stakeholders and local governments what feedback was received and how it has been incorporated


  • Use levels and methods of engagement that suit the group being consulted and the scale and complexity of the issue
  • Set realistic timelines for the level of engagement appropriate to the situation


  • Provide clear and comprehensive information to stakeholders and local governments to help them understand their engagement


  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities for all involved in MPA network planning and implementation


  • Modify engagement strategies to reflect feedback on the consultation process and to respond to requests

Who Will Be Engaged?

The Marine Protected Area Technical Team (MPATT) is committed to working with stakeholders and local governments who work, live, or have an interest in the NSB and its future. MPATT will also be engaging First Nations within the NSB who are not formally participating as partners in the planning process. A list of marine uses and interests that are expected to be part of the engagement process is below.

Commercial fishing
Economic development
First Nations marine knowledge
Independent anglers

Local government
Marine transportation and shipping
Non-renewable energy
Renewable energy
Seafood processing
Recreational fishing service providers
Commercial and non-Commercial recreation and tourism

Engagement Approach

Photo by Jaka Visek

Stakeholder engagement will take place at both regional and sub-regional scales within the NSB. While the NSB MPA network is being developed at the bioregional scale, the incorporation of both regional and local perspectives and knowledge will be critical to the network design process.

Bioregional engagement will operate on a large scale, using various approaches, including a bioregional marine advisory committee (MAC), regional forums, and bilateral meetings with stakeholders  and local governments. It is expected that regional input will be especially valuable on “big picture”, strategic, bioregional issues relating to: replication, connectivity, conservation, and cumulative socio-economic impacts and/or impacts of coast-wide economic activities.

Local perspectives and knowledge from marine communities in the North Coast, Central Coast, Haida Gwaii, and North Vancouver Island sub-regions will be integrated into the planning process through various mechanisms including meetings of sub-regional MACs. Targeted engagement with relevant sectors or interests regarding specific issues and data at sub-regional scales may also be required. It is expected that sub-regional engagement will be valuable for its focus on issues of adjacency, providing opportunities to inform design guidelines, conservation priorities, ground-truthing and data gaps, and to refine proposed boundaries of design scenarios.

The scope of information brought before the bioregional and sub-regional MACs may be very similar; however, it is expected that different perspectives and types of knowledge will come from each committee.

Multiple marine initiatives will be taking place in the NSB over the next few years, including:

  • MPA network planning
  • PNCIMA plan implementation
  • MaPP plan implementation
  • Other sub-regional initiatives

Most of these initiatives are a collaboration of two or more of the NSB MPA governance partners and each process requires some level of ongoing engagement with stakeholders and other governments. The extent and nature of that engagement will be determined by decisions and commitments made by the partner agencies associated with each initiative.

In order to make the best use of everyone’s time and resources, and to build awareness of the interconnectedness of these initiatives, efforts will be made to co-ordinate engagement amongst these initiatives. To the extent possible, network governance partners will seek to co-ordinate timing of meetings across these initiatives to make things more convenient and efficient for stakeholders and staff.

Engagement Mechanisms

Stakeholders and local governments will have an advisory role in the planning process, and will be asked to provide information in relation to the stages of the network planning process through the following mechanisms:

Advisory Committees

A bioregional marine advisory committee (MAC) will be established to provide input and advice to the MPA network governance partners on key elements of the planning process. MACs will also be established for each of the four sub-regions within the NSB: North Coast, Central Coast, Haida Gwaii, and North Vancouver Island. The advisory committees will include broad representation from all interested sectors, supporting inter-sectoral dialogue and building shared understanding on MPA network planning. Separate terms of reference will be developed for each committee.

Regional Forums

Regional forums will be held during key phases of the planning process when it is deemed more efficient and effective to communicate with relevant stakeholders and local governments collectively and for participants from different parts of the bioregion to hear diverse interests and ideas from each other. These forums may be multi-day events in which sector leaders, stakeholders, local governments, partners and/or interested parties will have the opportunity to meet and discuss information, provide advice and input to MPATT, and build working relationships. Facilitators will be used to help guide forum agendas, make sure meetings are fair and inclusive, ensure objectives and outcomes are accomplished, and document the results. Activities during these forums may include presentations, break-out sessions, Q&As, and/or information collection, as appropriate.

Sectoral Bilateral Meetings

The establishment of the NSB-MPA network will affect many sectors throughout the region. Bilateral meetings will be held with sector leaders at key junctures to help inform the planning process and involve sector leaders in any advancements of the MPA network. These meetings will occur throughout key planning stages when MPATT deems it necessary.


Webinars will be used periodically in the planning process as an efficient and effective means of sharing information with regional and sub-regional stakeholders and local governments. Documents to support information being profiled in a webinar will be sent out in advance, and there will be time for participants to comment on content and provide input following the online meeting.


SeaSketch is a collaborative marine planning tool that allows stakeholders and local governments to view network design scenarios and adjust boundaries based on their own knowledge of and interest in the plan area. SeaSketch can take multiple suggestions and analytically display them, revealing trends and information. SeaSketch is easy to use and will be available for use on the website.

Engagement Opportunities

The MPA network planning process is comprised of many stages and phases. There will be multiple opportunities for stakeholder engagement during each stage of the MPA network planning process, taking place at different scales in the bioregion, and drawing on various mechanisms to allow for input. The table below provides an overview of these engagement opportunities. All timelines are subject to change.


Planning Stages

MPA Network of the Northern Shelf Bioregion is a collaborative partnership between the Government of Canada, the Province of BC and 17 member First Nations

MPA Network Government of Canada Province of BC Haida-Nation Coastal First Nations Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance Nanwakolas Counsil North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society