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NSB MPA Network Proposal Now Open for Public Engagement 

The Northern Shelf Bioregion Marine Protected Area Network (NSB MPAn) proposal consultation process is now open for public engagement. 

UFAWU’s Business Agent Emily Orr is a Commercial Fishery Representative Member of the Integrated Advisory Committee, which serves as an information conduit between the MPAn coordinators and stakeholders. After a series of recent update meetings offered by the MPATT (Marine Protected Area Technical Team), several frustrations and significant ongoing concerns are relayed:

There are no management measures offered for review alongside the current iteration of the proposed NSB MPAn

This means that we can see on a chart where the proposed areas are for protection, but we don’t know what level of protection is planned (for example will a specific area be closed to all fisheries, or closed for 

bottom contact fisheries, or open for fisheries but closed to Industrial development, etc.). It’s not possible to provide meaningful input on a plan that does not specify what would potentially be the impacts of implementing said plan. While the first draft design scenario may have provided strong indication of these details, it is understood that those management measures have not yet been fully determined. There is currently no information available to describe what if any alterations to the 1st draft scenario have been made as a result of the stakeholder engagement.

RCAs have now been included into the NSB MPAn spatial plan. 

This might be a good thing – if the total sq km of RCAs then counted toward Canada’s protection percentages of 25% by 2025, 30% by 2030 it would assist in getting to that (politically/policy-driven, not science-based goal) percentage. However, if modifications to RCAs are required to meet the criteria to serve that purpose, it could mean that currently permitted fishing activities become restricted, which could translate to substantial impacts on commercial fishing access.

The MPATT-affirmed timeline is to have a completed Action Plan by early 2023. 

Given that the plan and boundaries for protected areas are still in consultation phases, and that a current draft scenario lacks the level of detail required for stakeholders to understand what the impacts will be, it is highly concerning that a final scenario will exist within a few short months. A period of time for a plan of this level of complexity to be meaningfully engaged should not be rushed.

There have been many process delays inside of an already very short engagement timeline, which has pushed materials availability further out into that already tight timeline, adding to the frustration and most importantly reducing the ability to thoroughly engage with stakeholders.

Public engagement began in September

A question to MPATT Coordinators was whether they are seeking ‘views’, or ‘input’ from the public, (‘input’ being understood to have the potential to alter the design of the boundaries and or protection goals.) The answer was “both”. They will consider concerns about specific areas, consider new areas suggested for protection that may not already exist within the NSB MPAn proposal, and the input does have the potential to impact the overall design scenario (Even if you have already engaged in consultation as a Stakeholder, you are also the public. You are encouraged to engage and have your perspectives and concerns included).

In-Person Meetings

In-person meetings will be held over the month of October. For more information on meetings in your area, see links below:

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