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 is critical to the success of the Northern Shelf 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.

The Northern Shelf 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 their activities and interests as they relate to the network planning process. This information is provided through multiple mechanisms, including advisory committees and webinars.

Engagement Principles

Engagement within the Northern Shelf MPA network planning process strives to achieve broad involvement of other levels of government and stakeholders. The following engagement 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 others’ contributions to improving outcomes
  • Actively listen to, document, understand and respond to needs of others
  • Conduct engagement activities in a manner that fosters mutual respect and trust
  • Provide timely responses to questions/requests for information, enabling a broad understanding of data sources, data quality, data analysis and decision-making tools
  • Provide information in a timely manner to ensure meaningful participation
  • Act with honour and integrity, respecting Indigenous rights and title

Relevant and Inclusive

  • Seek to engage with individuals, organizations and communities that represent the full diversity of those who have an interest in the MPA network
  • Use relevant, existing advisory committees to solicit feedback, where possible
  • Use levels and methods of engagement that suit the audience being consulted and the scale and complexity of the issue

Open and Transparent

  • Foster an environment that encourages the sharing of ideas
  • Clearly communicate clearly the purpose, goals, accountabilities, expectations and constraints of the process
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities for all involved in MPA network planning and implementation
  • Provide information to help ensure meaningful participation in the process


  • All participants share accountability for the success of the process
  • The governments will respond to all advice and input received, explaining how feedback was considered


  • 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

Clear and Accessible

  • Ensure that the technical elements of the process are communicated in a way that is accessible to the audience being engaged
  • Ensure that there are multiple means and opportunities for others to engage in the process across the bioregion
  • Consider any restrictions to participation and work to overcome barriers, where possible
  • Provide clarity on how knowledge will be incorporated into network planning in a way that respects confidentiality concerns

Adaptive and Efficient

  • Consider the results of monitoring and evaluation, including feedback from stakeholders and local government, and make adjustments, where feasible
  • Wherever possible, identify linkages with other marine planning processes

Who Will Be Engaged?

First Nations

The governments of Canada and British Columbia are committed to true and lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in British Columbia. First Nations with traditional territories in the Northern Shelf will be provided with opportunities for engagement throughout the planning process and consulted, at a deeper level, on potential sites as they are identified within Nations’ territories and/or overlap with other First Nations interests.

Stakeholders, local governments

The governing partners are committed to working with stakeholders and local governments who work, live or have an interest in the Northern Shelf and its future. A list of marine uses and interests that are expected to be part of the engagement process is below.

Marine research institutes
Commercial fishing
Economic development
First Nations marine knowledge
Public recreation
Public recreation fishery

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

The following engagement mechanisms will be used at various stages of the network planning process.

Advisory Committees

Stakeholders and local governments have an advisory role in the planning process. A Bioregional Ocean  Advisory Committee has been established to provide input and advice to the MPA network governance partners on key elements of the planning process. Advisory committees have also been established for each of the four sub-regions within the Northern Shelf: Haida Gwaii, North Coast, Central Coast and North Vancouver Island. The advisory committees include broad representation from all interested sectors, supporting inter-sectoral dialogue and building shared understanding on MPA network planning. Terms of Reference have been developed for the advisory committees. Learn more about the advisory committees.

Bioregional Forums

Bioregional forums will be held during key phases of the planning process to communicate with relevant stakeholders and local governments collectively and to provide opportunities for participants from different parts of the bioregion to exchange diverse interests and ideas. These forums may be multi-day events in which 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 may be used to help guide forum agendas, ensure objectives are clear and outcomes accomplished and document the results. Activities may include presentations, break-out sessions, Q&As, and/or information collection, as appropriate.


Engagement opportunities are scheduled at key junctures according to the tasks and requirements associated with each step of the planning process. Briefings will provide additional opportunities to collectively discuss planning progress and address questions, concerns and/or provide additional feedback. They may include interactive dialogue facilitated by the partners using webinars or conference calls and will complement targeted emails and updates on the network website. The briefings will be facilitated by the MPATT co-chairs and scheduled as needed.

Bilateral Meetings

Bilateral meetings may be held with First Nations, individual stakeholder grouops or local governments at key junctures of the planning process. These meetings will occur throughout key planning stages as necessary.

Online Response Forms

Online response forms may be used in the event that additional input is required from stakeholders or members of the public who are unable to participate in a meeting or other engagement mechanisms, and when written review and response may be a more effective means of providing and/or receiving input.


Webinars may be used periodically in the planning process to share information with bioregional and sub-regional stakeholders and local governments. Documents to support information being profiled in a webinar will be sent out in advance, when possible, 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 users to view data layers and draft network design scenarios. Users will be able to adjust boundaries of candidate sistes based on their own knowledge of and interest in the planning area. Learn more about SeaSketch.

Engagement Opportunities

There are multiple opportunities for 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. All timelines are subject to change.

Upcoming engagement opportunities will be listed here.

MPA Network of the Northern Shelf Bioregion is a collaborative partnership between the Government of Canada, the Province of BC and many 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

Signatory First Nations

Gitxaala Nation, Metlakatla First Nation, Gitga’at First Nation, Kitasoo/Xaixais First Nation, Heiltsuk Nation, Nuxalk First Nation, Wuikinuxv First Nation, Mamalilikulla Nation, Tlowitsis Nation, Da'naxda'xw Awetlala First Nation, Wei Wai Kum First Nation, and K'ómoks First Nation