The Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and many First Nations are working together to develop a Marine Protected Area network in the Northern Shelf, which extends from the top of Vancouver Island (Quadra Island / Bute Inlet) and reaches north to the Canada – Alaska border.
The Northern Shelf is unique due to its diverse ocean ecosystems, which provide important habitat for a range of species. The Northern Shelf is characterized by adjacent rugged coastal mountains and steep valleys reflecting glacial scouring processes, abundant offshore islands, rocky shorelines with few sand and gravel beaches and extensive, deep fjords.
The Northern Shelf also contributes an abundance of marine resources to coastal economies and communities. A wide variety of year-round and seasonal activities occur in the marine offshore and coastal near-shore areas. In the near-shore, activities include traditional fishing and food gathering, aquaculture and ecotourism, as well as infrastructure associated with marine transportation, communications and community uses.
Protection of the marine environment is of paramount importance for coastal residents. For millenia, the diversity of life supported by coastal and marine environments has allowed complex and culturally rich societies to develop. In particular, First Nations communities have a distinct cultural and spiritual heritage and present-day practices that are intricately linked to the marine environment. This reflects their longstanding governance systems that include stewardship of marine resources for sustainable use.
The Northern Shelf Marine Protected Area Network planning process aims to build a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) that will help to ensure that future generations will inherit the beauty and productivity of our Pacific Ocean.
The success of conserving and protecting special marine areas is a shared responsibility. We look forward to hearing from all coastal residents that have an interest in the Northern Shelf and its future, to complete a network of MPAs for the Pacific Coast of Canada.
The marine protected area (MPA) network planning process for the Northern Shelf Bioregion is currently co-led by the Government of Canada, Province of British Columbia, and First Nations governments and organizations. Participants include:
The parties have agreed to work together to advance MPA network planning for this area, through their commitments to the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) plan, Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP), and/or the Reconciliation Framework Agreement for Bioregional Oceans Management and Protection. In addition, Canada and BC are working to engage other First Nations with interests in the Northern Shelf Bioregion, but who are not currently a party to the collaborative structures developed under the plans and agreements identified above.
Commercial and non-commercial recreation and tourism
First Nations marine knowledge
Marine research institutes
Marine transportation and shipping
Public recreation fishery
Recreational fishing service providers
MPA Network of the Northern Shelf Bioregion is a collaborative partnership between the Government of Canada, the Province of BC and many 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