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An evaluation of the national framework for marine planning in Canada.


With the passage of the Oceans Act (S.C. 1996, c. 31), Canada committed to manage its oceans and coasts in a more integrated, proactive and sustainable fashion. The Oceans Act and associated policies place Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) at the helm as the lead federal authority for oceans management in Canada. Canada's new ocean management framework is centered on themes of sustainable development, integrated management and the precautionary approach. The framework recognizes that people are a critical component of the marine environment, and that development must be balanced with conservation concerns (NRTEE 2003).

Integrated marine planning is a mechanism through which the federal government's goals for Canada's oceans can be achieved. The Oceans Action Plan designates five Large Ocean Management Area (LOMA) initiatives in order to prioritize and focus integrated marine planning efforts within specified regional boundaries (Canada 2005). This article uses the principles for integrated marine planning developed by Dickinson et al. (this issue) as criteria to evaluate the federal government's framework for marine planning.

Canada's Marine Planning System

The Oceans Act established the foundation for a major reform of ocean planning and management in Canada. To support the Act, the federal government prescribed an array of policy initiatives that are the basis of the current marine planning system. These include Canada's Oceans Strategy (2002); the Oceans Action Plan (2005); the Health of the Oceans Initiatives (2007); the designation of LOMAs for integrated marine planning; and the initiation of a national system of marine protected areas. Each of these is described briefly in this section, with particular aspects covered in more detail in the subsequent section on evaluation.

Canada's Oceans Act

Canada's Oceans Act came into force in 1997, providing an explicit mandate to implement an integrated approach to oceans management. The founding principles set out in the Oceans Act are sustainable development, integrated management, and the precautionary approach.

The Oceans Act:

* legally defines Canada's ocean boundaries,

* promotes an integrated oceans management approach,

* encourages government-wide collaboration and coordination, and respect for jurisdictional authorities,

*calls for the engagement of aboriginal organizations, coastal communities and other persons and bodies in the development of a national strategy for marine management, and

* assigns federal responsibility to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada for new ocean-related activities not previously assigned by Parliament.

Canada's Oceans Strategy

Canada's Oceans Strategy (Canada 2002a) is the national policy statement that defines the vision and policy objectives for implementing the Oceans Act and applying integrated oceans management to the management of estuarine, coastal and marine ecosystems. As with the Oceans Act, the Strategy is based on the three principles of sustainable development, integrated management, and the precautionary approach. More specifically, the Strategy advances policy and programs aimed at supporting sustainable economic opportunities, understanding and protecting the marine environment, and providing international leadership.

The Strategy is designed to improve oceans governance in three main ways:

* The federal government will develop, support and promote activities to establish institutional governance mechanisms to enhance coordinated, collaborative oceans management across the federal government and with other levels of government.

* The Strategy seeks to implement a program of integrated management planning to engage partners in the planning and managing of ocean activities.

* The Strategy responds to the desire of Canadians to become engaged in ocean management activities by promoting stewardship and public awareness. Oceans stewardship means acting responsibly to conserve the oceans and their resources for present and future generations.

The Oceans Strategy is accompanied by the Policy and Operational Framework for Integrated Management of Estuarine, Coastal and Marine Environments in Canada. This is a working document designed to
  foster discussion about integrated management approaches by setting
  out policy in the legislative context, along with concepts and
  principles. The document also proposes an operational framework
  with governance, management by areas, design for management
  bodies and the type of planning processes that could be involved
  (Canada 2002b, i).

Canada's Oceans Action Plan

In May 2005, Canada announced the Oceans Action Plan. This plan outlines an overall federal oceans agenda and is a companion document to the Oceans Strategy. The Oceans Action Plan proposes a new governance model based on the following four pillars:

* International Leadership, Sovereignty and Security;

*Integrated Oceans Management for Sustainable Development;

* Health of the Oceans; and

*Ocean Science and Technology (Canada 2005).

The Oceans Action Plan contains 18 major initiatives involving six federal departments.

The Health of the Oceans Initiatives

In 2007, the federal government dedicated five-year funding for the Health of the Oceans Initiatives (one pillar of the Oceans Action Plan) (DFO 2010a). Initiatives include funding to protect fragile marine environments and counter pollution, and measures to address issues such as declining biodiversity and invasive species. The funds for the various initiatives went to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada, Environment Canada, the Parks Canada Agency, and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

Integrated Marine Planning

Integrated planning and management is explicitly mandated by the Oceans Act. DFO defines integrated management as
  an ongoing and collaborative planning process that brings together
  interested stakeholders and regulators to reach general agreement on
  the best mix of conservation, sustainable use and economic development
  of marine areas for the benefit of all Candians (DFO 2009).

The goals of integrated management, as laid out by DFO, are to:

* ensure that decision-making is more effective in the long-term,

* address user conflicts,

* build upon a common knowledge base,

* take into consideration the needs of the ecosystem as well as the needs of all users,

* maintain the health of marine ecosystems,

* limit the cumulative effects of human activities within a defined ocean space, and

* maximize and diversify sustainable use of the oceans (DFO 2009).

Five LOMA initiatives are designated for integrated marine planning:

* Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area,

* Beaufort Sea Integrated Management Planning Initiative,

* Placentia Bay/Grand Banks,

* Gulf of St. Lawrence integrated Management Area, and

* Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Area.

The specific management focus for each LOMA is unique and boundaries are based on both ecological and administrative considerations (DFO 2010b). To date, only three of the LOMA planning initiatives have made significant progress: the Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Area, the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area, and the Beaufort Sea integrated Management Planning Initiative.

Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Area

The Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Area (ESSIM) is the only LOMA for which an integrated marine plan has been completed. The ESSIM process, announced in 1998, involved development of an integrated plan by a collaborative process involving relevant stakeholders. During the period from 2006 to 2008 the ESSIM Ocean Management Plan was completed, approved by stakeholders and a senior intergovernmental Regional Committee, and released (DFO 2010c). The plan area covers approximately 325,000 km(2) of ocean over the Eastern Scotian Shelf adjacent to Nova Scotia, with the initial focus restricted to the offshore area.

There are three main governance components in the ESSIM process:

* The ESSIM Forum, which provides an assembly for stakeholders and interested individuals to participate in the collaborative planning process. The Forum serves as a network for multi-stakeholder communications and input to the ESSIM Initiative.

* The Stakeholder Advisory Council, composed of 32 stakeholders representing the relevant stakeholder interests. The Council works in partnership with the ESSIM Planning Office and collaboratively with the various stakeholder groups as well as the intergovernmental Regional Committee on Ocean Management.

* The Planning Office, made up of the Oceans and Coastal Management Division of DFO's Maritimes Region. The planning office works in cooperation with the Stakeholder Advisory Council and the government to support development and implementation of the Plan.

The government sector structure consists of the two following entities:

* The Regional Committee on Ocean Management, which is the senior executive level forum for federal and provincial departments and agencies with ocean-related programs. It provides coordination at the intergovernmental and interdepartmental levels.

* The Federal-Provincial ESSIM Working Group, which is an intergovernmental forum made up of representatives of over 20 ocean-related federal and provincial departments. It focuses on policy, management, operations and regulatory coordination for the ESSIM Initiative.

The ESSIM Plan was developed through a collaborative process. The Stakeholder Advisory Council completed a draft of the management plan, with input from interested parties. The draft Plan was publicly distributed for feedback and then submitted for approval to the federal and provincial governments and the various stakeholder associations.

Pacific North Coast Integrated Marine Area (PNCIMA)

Marine planning in the PNCIMA is still in the very early stages and a draft plan has not yet been prepared. Progress to date has consisted of completing background research and developing governance mechanisms to prepare the plan. The background research includes an ecosystem overview report, a marine use analysis report, the mapping of ecologically and biologically sensitive areas, and a social, economic, and cultural overview and assessment. The PNCIMA planning area covers approximately 88,000 km(2) off the west coast of British Columbia, stretching from the border with Alaska to the northern end of Vancouver Island.

DFO has been working with First Nations and the province of British Columbia to develop a tripartite governance model for PNCIMA. The federal and provincial governments have negotiated several agreements on ocean management and planning, the most important of which is the Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Implementation of Canada's Oceans Strategy on the Pacific Coast (DFO 2004). The purpose of this MOU is to promote collaboration between the federal and provincial governments, specifically in the areas of understanding and protecting the marine environment and supporting sustainable economic opportunities. The MOU is being implemented through a Regional Committee on Oceans Management--composed of senior executives from federal and provincial agencies--that provides oversight and strategic direction, and an associated coordinating body called the Oceans Coordinating Committee. Joint work is also coordinated through an annual work plan with activities identified under four themes: international leadership, sovereignty and security; integrated ocean management; ocean health; and ocean science, technology and monitoring.

In December of 2008 another Memorandum of Understanding was signed, in this case between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and First Nations of the Pacific North Coast, as represented by Coastal First Nations and the North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society (DFO 2008). This MOU outlines the proposed bilateral collaborative oceans governance model for the PNCIMA. Bilateral coordination for the PNCIMA is composed of a Steering Committee and the PNCIMA Secretariat. The Steering Committee "will serve as a high level platform for coordination on PNCIMA structure, process, and development among the Federal government and First Nations" (DFO 2008: 9). The PNCIMA Secretariat is composed of staff from three federal agencies and First Nations. The PNCIMA Secretariat will
  carry out activities as directed by the Steering Committee. It
  will provide support to the direction and mandate provided by the
  Steering Committee, and will serve as a forum for ongoing dialogue,
  consensus- building, and to facilitate planning, completion of work,
  and evaluation in a coordinated manner among the Federal and First
 Nations governments (DFO 2008, 9).

In 2010, the Integrated Oceans Advisory Committee, representing relevant stakeholder groups and First Nations, was formed to work collaboratively with the PNCIMA Secretariat on recommendations for an integrated oceans management plan for consideration by governments (PNCIMA-PA 2010). The Integrated Oceans Advisory Committee will attempt to develop consensus recommendations on a proposed management plan to be submitted to governments for consideration. The Committee had its first meeting in June 2010.

Beaufort Sea Integrated Management Plaining Initiative

In 1999, the Beaufort Sea Integrated Planning Initiative was launched as a collaborative process involving Inuvialuit organizations, the federal government, and the hydrocarbon industry (Beaufort Sea Partnership 2010). The first task of this planning process was to review proposals for marine protected areas, which resulted in the designation of the Tarium Niryutait MPA in 2010.

The current governance structure for the management of the Beaufort Sea LOMA includes four entities: the Regional Coordination Committee, the Beaufort Sea Partnership, Working Groups, and the Planning Secretariat (Beaufort Sea Partnership 2010). The Regional Coordinating Committee is composed of 11 members co-chaired by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Inuvialuit Game Council and DFO. The Regional Coordination Committee provides overall management and direction for the development of an integrated ocean management plan for the Beaufort Sea LOMA. The Beaufort Sea Partnership is composed of about 38 members and acts as a forum for stakeholder involvement in the management of the Beaufort Sea LOMA. The Planning Secretariat is composed of Fisheries and Oceans staff and provides professional support to assist the other entities. In addition there are five multi-stakeholder Working Groups assessing various management issues associated with the LOMA.

The Beaufort Sea LOMA is located in the northwest corner of Canada and includes approximately 1,100,000 km(2). Detailed background studies have been completed on the LOMA and 20 marine-based ecologically and biologically significant areas have been identified for special management consideration. Stakeholders and DFO have recently developed a more comprehensive integrated ocean management plan (for a more detailed discussion of marine planning in the Canadian north, see Daoust et al. this volume.)

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

The Oceans Act calls for the federal government to develop a national system of MPAs to enhance fisheries resources, marine habitat and biodiversity. Prior to the Oceans Act, federal designation of MPAs took place on a case-by-case basis, according to a process set out in the National Framework for Establishing and Managing Marine Protected Areas. Under the new approach, MPA designation is supposed to occur through a collaborative, integrated management process as set out in the federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy, released in 2005 as part of Phase I of the Oceans Action Plan.

Federally established MPAs can be designated by three separate federal agencies: DFO, Parks Canada, and Environment Canada. DFO has the authority to establish MPAs, within the integrated management framework, to protect and conserve fish and marine mammal habitats, endangered marine species, unique features and areas of high biological productivity or biodiversity (Canada 2005). Parks Canada can designate National Marine Conservation Areas managed for sustainable use and containing smaller zones of high protection. These conservation areas include "the seabed, the water column above it and they may also take in wetlands, estuaries, islands and other coastal lands" (Parks Canada 2008: 3). The goal is eventually to represent each of Canada's marine regions. Environment Canada also has authority for establishing MPAs, primarily for the protection of migratory bird species and species at risk. The protected areas it can designate are: National Wildlife Areas, Marine Wildlife Areas, and Migratory Bird Sanctuaries. The federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy is meant to guide the coordination of the three federal agencies. The provinces also have the capacity to designate marine protected areas in provincial territory, subject to the functional powers of the federal government under the Canadian constitution (for example, the federal government has jurisdiction over "seacoast and inland fisheries," and "navigation and shipping").

Evaluation of Federal Marine Planning in Canada

This section evaluates Canada's federal framework for marine planning, using the planning principles for integrated marine planning developed by Dickinson et al. (this volume) as evaluation criteria. The focus of the evaluation is on LOMA initiatives under the Oceans Act, as these planning processes have been assigned priority by the federal government and are the most advanced examples of large scale integrated marine planning and management in the country. The section includes a description and discussion of Canada's performance organized under each principle. This is followed by a table that summarizes the evaluation and makes recommendations for improvement.

1. Inclusive participation

Development, implementation, and monitoring of integrated marine planning should be collaboratively managed through permanent and institutionalized multi-party processes.

Effective stakeholder engagement is critical to successful marine planning (NRTEE 2003, Lien 2003). Under the Oceans Act (s. 31) the federal government has committed to collaboration "with provincial and territorial governments and with affected aboriginal organizations, coastal communities and other persons and bodies." The Oceans Strategy proposes a collaborative framework for governance that has the potential to incorporate stakeholders and aboriginal peoples in more than an advisory role--they can be delegated legitimate power and responsibility in developing, implementing and monitoring management plans (Chircop and Hildebrand 2006).

Engagement with stakeholders is also emphasized in the design of the individual LOMA planning processes, which are based on principles of "open and collaborative oceans governance and management arrangements" (Canada 2005, 15). The ESSIM management plan states:
  The need for collaboration does not end with government. Indeed, the
  foundation for the Plan is involvement and inclusion of all interested
  and affected parties in the integrated management process. The
  collaborative planning model for the Plan ... provides opportunities
  for meaningful participation and input by all stakeholders, including
  government, industry sectors, community and Aboriginal organizations,
  conservation interests, the research community, and the general public
  (Canada 2007, 8).

Table 1 shows the operating principles for collaborative planning incorporated in the ESSIM process. A Stakeholder Advisory Council was involved in preparing the draft management plan, with input from a public forum and workshops for interested parties (Canada 2007). The draft plan was then widely distributed for public review and feedback, and the final plan was approved by the various stakeholder associations involved and the senior intergovernmental Regional Committee.
Table 1. Easter Scotian Integrated Management Area (ESSIM) operating
principles for collaborative planning

ESSIM Management Plan

The collaborative planning model is
founded upon the following operating

Jurisdiction                          Management authorities and
                                      jurisdiction of government
                                      departments and agencies is
                                      acknowledged and affirmed.

Inclusion                             All stakeholders are included.

Consensus                             Decisions and recommendations
                                      are made by consensus and the
                                      process includes mechanisms for
                                      dispute resolution.

Accountability                        Accountability is expected of
                                      and demonstrated by all

Evolution                             The process is designed to
                                      permit and support evolution
                                      and will be monitored and
                                      evaluated to support shared
                                      learning and adaptation.

Networking                            The process will continue to
                                      work through a network of

Transparency                          Decisions and recommendations
                                      are made openly, with
                                      information and results shared
                                      with all stakeholders.

Efficiency                            Issues are addressed in a
                                      timely manner.

Knowledge-based                       Decisions and recommendations
                                      are based on best available

Source: Canada (2007, 21)

The PNCIMA process on the Pacific coast is developing governance structures similar to those that were successfully utilized in the ESSIM process. PNCIMA recently adopted a formal engagement strategy, developed with public input, including an initial stakeholder forum that identified themes and principles of engagement. A Draft Engagement Strategy was prepared and circulated for public review and comment, with numerous multi-stakeholder meetings to refine the strategy, The final framework for engagement includes an Integrated Oceans Advisory Committee (made up of industry, coastal communities, recreational groups, environmental organizations and others--with First Nations, federal and provincial governments as ex-officio members), a Bilateral Coordination Steering Committee (made up of federal agency executives and First Nations leaders), Sub-regional Advisory Forums (open to all interested parties in each of four sub-regions), and ad hoc workshops on specific topics (PNCIMA 2010a).

As the engagement strategy for the PNCIMA process recognizes, Aboriginal peoples are key participants in marine planning (Jones et al. 2010). The unsuccessful Race Rocks MPA process in British Columbia illustrates the dangers of failing to deal appropriately with First Nations interests (Guenette and Alder 2007). In the PNCIMA process, a government-to-government Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2008 between DFO, Coastal First Nations and the North Coast--Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society, approving an interim collaborative governance model that is evolving into the overall governance structure. Table 2 shows the operating principles for the PMCIMA collaborative governance model. The BC government has confirmed that it supports this MOU, but it has not formally joined (Jones et al. 2010). First Nations are represented on the Bilateral Steering Committee and as ex-officio members of the Integrated Oceans Advisory Committee. The ESSIM process also includes First Nations, but their involvement has been more limited, in part because the initial focus for ESSIM planning has been on the offshore region (Jones et al. 2010, Rutherford etal. 2005).
Table 2. Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA)
collaborative governance model operative principles

PNCIMA operating

Authorities       The Parties recognize that they each bring
                  authorities and mandates to the PNCIMA
                  initiative and they will respect, and will
                  together benefit from, those authorities and
                  mandates in the PNCIMA process.

First Nations     Federal and provincial governments have
                  fiduciary relationships with aboriginal
                  people. The PNCIMA initiative reflects a
                  relationship between the federal and First
                  Nations governments that is of a different
                  character than that between governments and

Inclusion         A diversity of stakeholder interests will be
                  included and engaged in a meaningful way in
                  PNCIMA initiatives.

Consensus         The Parties will seek to develop
                  recommendations through consensus.

Accountability    In the PNCIMA initiative, the Parties are
                  committed to being accountable to their
                  constituents and to each other.

Adaptive          The process is designed to permit and support
Management        evolution and will be monitored and evaluated
                  to support shared learning and adaptation.

Transparency      Recommendations are made openly, with
                  information and results shared with all

Efficiency        Issues are addressed in a timely manner.
Knowledge-based   Recommendations are based on best available
                  information and will include both science
                  based and traditional/local ecological
                  knowledge, information and data.

Source: DFO (2008, 7)

These efforts to engage stakeholders and aboriginal peoples in the ESSIM and PNCIMA processes are encouraging. A study of stakeholders engaged in the ESSIM process found that they were generally positive about their role in the process (Hedley 2006). The proposed participatory mechanisms for PNCIMA await evaluation, but they are designed to ensure a high level of stakeholder collaboration. Nonetheless, improvements may be warranted. In their review of the ESSIM process, Kearney et al. (2007, 84) note that "there is no devolution of decision-making powers to any nongovernmental agents" and that the process did not include sufficient participation of coastal communities. Hedley (2006) also found that several stakeholder groups were underrepresented in ESSIM. It will be interesting to assess the satisfaction of stakeholders with participatory mechanisms in the PNCIMA. A survey conducted by Gunton et al. (this volume) found that 95 percent of stakeholders in the PNCIMA region rated enhanced public participation in marine planning as an important objective, but only 63 percent believed that the PNCIMA process would achieve this objective.

2. Leadership and accountability

Leadership for developing integrated marine planning should reside at the most senior levels of government and responsibility for implementation must be clearly delineated.

Strong higher-level leadership and advocacy is needed to ensure effective implementation of the Oceans Act and associated policies. As the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development notes, "significant progress in oceans management can potentially be achieved under the leadership of committed and influential political leaders" (Auditor General of Canada 2005, 31). The federal government has repeatedly proclaimed its commitment to oceans policy and planning, but the level of this commitment seems to wane significantly between announcements every few years of major legislative or policy initiatives. The summary report from the 2009 conference of the Canadian Ocean Management Research Network notes:
  Conference delegates expressed concern about the demonstrated
  lack of political will in Canada with respect to the priority of
  oceans and coasts on the political agenda. At the same time, there
  was frustration by some delegates that despite the expressed
  initiatives and positive language of bureaucrats with respect to
  oceans and coastal policy, the high level political commitment to
  carry through with declared policy was inevitably displaced by other
  concerns (OMRN 2009).

Leadership also has been problematic within DFO. In part, this is due to the history and conflicted role of the department. When DFO was designated as lead authority for oceans management in Canada, it was forced to expand its mandate from a focus on fisheries to an integrated oceans management approach. The shift from single sector, top-down management to collaborative and multi-sectoral processes, and the associated leadership responsibilities that fell to the agency, were new territory and there was little explicit direction on the way forward. A result of this paradigm shift within DFO has often been "confusion and inconsistency or paralysis, inability or unwillingness to take decisive action in either the old or the new direction" (Peterson et al. 2005, 58). There is some scepticism that a department that has historically been dedicated to the management of fisheries is even capable of reinventing itself to meet this wider directive (Gardner et al. 2008).
  The Department has yet to fully come to terms with its double
  duty as fisheries promoters and managers under the Fisheries Act and
  as leaders in conservation and ecosystem management under the Oceans
  Act (Guenette and Alder 2007, 66).

DFO was also asked to assume a leadership role in coordinating other federal departments (Lien 2003), but again there was little guidance about the practical challenges of this role. As the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development suggests, DFO has had "great difficulty moving from this conceptual definition [of integrated management] to practical implementation" (Auditor General of Canada 2005, 7). Integrated management arrangements among agencies should work towards solutions whereby each agency is able to meet its overarching mandate while working together. Often this is a difficult task given that these mandates may conflict between agencies and even within agencies (Peterson et al. 2005). It takes time for institutional acceptance of such a shift in priorities and for the necessary harmonization of sectoral regulations and mandates to occur (Guenette and Alder 2007).

3. Legal framework

A legislative and policy framework should exist at the national level to guide planning and provide strategic direction.

Together, the Oceans Act, Canada's Oceans Strategy, the Oceans Action Plan, and the Health of the Oceans Initiatives establish a comprehensive and progressive legal framework for ocean planning and management. But these are only part of the complex and often overlapping mixture of laws, policies and jurisdictions that affect oceans management in Canada (DFO 2010a). This has led to "confusion, duplication of effort and protracted delays in making decisions that affect ocean users" (NRTEE 2003, 83). Improving coordination among the many policy and legal components of ocean management is a key challenge.

4. Comprehensive goals with measurable targets

Goals should be developed early in the planning process with contributions from a wide range of user groups. Expected outcomes must be clearly outlined in the form of measurable targets with timelines and there should be mechanisms in place with which to monitor progress.

Canada's marine planning framework includes an impressive suite of goals. Both the Oceans Act and the Oceans Strategy are based on the principles of sustainable development, integrated management, and the precautionary approach. The Oceans Strategy promotes policy and programs aimed at supporting sustainable economic opportunities, understanding and protecting the marine environment, and providing international leadership. It is considered a "rolling strategy" intended to be updated to incorporate knowledge gained from experience with integrated management (Chircop and Hildebrand 2006). However, there is a lack of specific objectives and measurable targets against which to assess progress towards achieving these goals, and the Strategy does not set out baselines against which it can be evaluated (Chircop and Hildebrand 2006). Moreover, although the Strategy stresses the importance of utilizing tools with which to measure progress, it does not set out an evaluation process (Chircop and Hildebrand 2006).

The three overarching goals of the ESSIM Initiative are collaborative governance and integrated management, sustainable human use, and healthy ecosystems. The ESSIM plan is described as an objectives-based planning approach. It lists 30 objectives organized under the three overarching goals and provides an array of strategies to meet each of the objectives. The plan does not, however, contain timelines and designated agency responsibilities for implementing the strategies and many of the strategies are general statements that may be difficult to evaluate and implement without more detail. The intention is that "specific actions, time frames and resource requirements will be identified through the action planning process" (Canada 2007, 33), but this has not yet occurred.

The PNCIMA process is still in the early stages of planning, but as it moves forward it will be important to develop specific strategies and targets with the contribution of a wide range of stakeholders. A recently-issued overview of the proposed PNCIMA process states that the plan will include "an implementation strategy, including an accountability matrix connecting various agencies' roles and responsibilities with relevant components of the integrated management plan" (PNCIMA 2010b, 2). Expected outcomes and formal commitments should be clearly outlined (Auditor General of Canada 2005) and measurable targets with timelines should be developed to accompany goals at the federal and regional levels.

5. Effective strategy

An effective strategy must be in place to outline how goals and targets will be met and to specify what will be achieved, how, and in what time frame.

One of the primary criticisms of Canada's oceans management is weak implementation. Progress on strategies to meet goals and objectives is slow and ineffective. This is emphasized in the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, Report on the Oceans Act:
  The Committee has concluded from its review that the Oceans Act is
  fundamentally sound and does not recommend any major amendments to
  the Act at this time. Nevertheless, the Committee has some concerns
  over the administration of certain aspects of the Act. Certain
  principles and programs that were key elements of the Act do not
  appear to have been as fully implemented as they could or should have
  been (Canada 2001, 1).

Although the review of the Standing Committee was carried out in 2001, the pace of implementation of federal marine policy has not improved substantially since then. The 2005 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development notes that
  Implementing the Oceans Act and subsequent oceans strategy has not
  been a government priority. After eight years, the promise of the
  Oceans Act is unfulfilled (Auditor General of Canada 2005, 2).

Although DFO has been designated as the lead agency for ocean's management in Canada, responsibility for managing marine-related activities falls to a number of other federal departments and agencies as well. The provinces and local governments also have a level of management authority and responsibility for activities that directly, or indirectly, affect marine space. The Ocean's Action Plan acknowledges that
  currently, oceans governance arrangements are not designed to deal
  with the challenges of modern oceans management. The approach is
  fragmented, exceedingly complex, lacks transparency, and is focused
  on solving problems after they appear (Canada 2005, 4).

Poor coordination among governing agencies is seen by some to be one of the most significant barriers to advancing marine conservation and implementing the Oceans Act (NRTEE 2003). Effort has been made to transcend this confusion of 'duplication and delay' through the development of working groups and interagency bodies, meant to build collaborative relationships between and within jurisdictions. An effective strategy should clearly delineate roles and responsibilities of all involved agencies and set out management details. Because this is difficult to accomplish at the national level these issues will need to be specified within the development and implementation of marine plans regionally.

Another important ingredient of an effective planning strategy is sufficient resources. Historically the federal government has failed to provide long-term core resources for marine planning (Guenette and Alder 2007). Without adequate funding it is difficult for DFO to meet its management and conservation obligations (NRTEE 2003), and scarcity of funding has made it difficult to develop the momentum necessary for the implementation of Canada's oceans policies. When the Oceans Act was initially passed, there was little new funding to implement oceans initiatives, and what was made available was often reallocated from other DFO programs (Lien 2003, Auditor General of Canada 2005). In 2005 it was estimated that DFO had redirected about 100 million dollars from other programs and operations towards activities to support the Oceans Act and the Oceans Strategy (Auditor General of Canada 2005). Redirecting funding away from other branches of DFO may have had the effect of making oceans initiatives unpopular among branches that had their funding cut (Lien 2003) and may have resulted in decreasing momentum for implementation. The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy also recognized the critical lack of funding and recommended in 2003 that the federal government should make it a priority to allocate 500 million dollars to implement the principles of integrated management and Canada's Oceans Strategy (NRTEE 2003).

The Oceans Action Plan (Canada 2005) provided a much needed injection of funding which resulted in more progress being made towards achieving Canada's oceans mandate (Ricketts and Harrison 2007). Funding of 28 million dollars over two years was made available in the February 2005 Budget for implementing Phase I of the Oceans Action Plan (Auditor General of Canada 2005). This injection of funding provided new energy towards agency collaboration (Guenette and Alder 2007). The 2007 Federal Budget took a different approach and provided funding for the Health of the Oceans Initiatives under the National Water Strategy. Health of the Oceans, however, is only one of the four interconnected pillars of the Oceans Action Plan - International Leadership, Integrated Oceans Management for Sustainable Development, Health of the Oceans, and Ocean Science and Technology (Canada 2005). None of the other pillars received additional funding (Gardner et al. 2008).

Although these injections of funding were badly needed, surges of short-term funding can sometimes have a negative impact. Short term funding may have conditions placed on it regarding how it should be spent and may require shifts in focus in the short term that can compromise ongoing operations (Peterson et al. 2005). More beneficial in the long-term is continuing dedication of core funding. The federal government needs to demonstrate ongoing support for integrated marine planning with long-term commitments of both funds and capacity (Kelleher 1999).

An effective strategy also requires an effective means to ensure compliance. The proposed approach to implementing much of the ESSIM plan is through voluntary compliance (Canada 2007). In addition, surveillance, monitoring and enforcement of specific measures contained in the plan can be undertaken by relevant regulatory authorities under their respective legislation and regulations. It is highly unlikely that voluntary compliance will be effective when the stakes are high for marine resource users, and, given the complex and overlapping jurisdictions involved, it will be difficult to coordinate other enforcement measures and ensure that they are pursued.

One good indicator of the current ineffectiveness of the federal strategy for oceans management is the lack of progress that has been made on developing an adequate system of marine protected areas. Canada has endorsed recommendations of various international organizations - including the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the World Parks Congress, and the Convention on Biological Diversity - that have called for establishment of a representative network of marine protected zones (Wood et al. 2008) ranging between 10 percent and 30 percent of the marine area by 2012. Canada's progress in achieving this objective has been criticized in several independent reviews (Auditor General of Canada 2005, Stark and Ladell 2008), and the world's progress has been criticized by Wood et al. (2008). Currently MPAs comprise 1.6 percent of the world's marine area under national jurisdiction and 0.65 percent of the total world marine area (Wood et al. 2008). Marine protected areas with complete protection comprise only 0.2 percent of marine areas under national jurisdiction. Within these world averages, there is considerable variation. Based on a 2008 study, MPAs in Australia and the United States represent 10 percent and 5 percent, respectively, of the marine area, while in Canada MPAs represent 0.5 percent (Stark and Ladell 2008). Although a more recent study by DFO (DFO 2010d) provides a higher estimate of Canadian MPAs due to different methodology and new MPA designations, MPA designation in Canada remains below 1 percent of the marine area and well below the international goals. Consequently, it appears that Canada will not meet its MPA goals specified in international commitments by the target dates. In addition, Guenette and Alder (2007, 72) could find no example of an MPA in Canada "in which fisheries were an important issue and would have had to be restricted."

6. Progress monitoring and reporting

There should be regular, independent public reporting to assess progress in implementing plans and achieving targets and deficiencies in progress should be clearly delineated.

There has been little monitoring and reporting to assess progress at the national level towards implementing the federal integrated marine management framework (with the notable exceptions of the 2001 report of the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, the 2005 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the 2010 DFO report on MPAs). Ongoing progress monitoring and reporting, including assessments by independent evaluators, is essential to identify flaws in the national strategy and promote learning and improvement.

In contrast, at the LOMA level the importance of progress monitoring and reporting is explicitly recognized. The ESSIM plan is to undergo a comprehensive review every five years (DFO 2008). This time period corresponds to the short-to-medium-term timelines for the majority of management strategies contained in the plan. The five-year review is supposed to cover all aspects of the plan and draw on information and findings obtained through the performance evaluation and reporting process, as well as emerging management needs and priorities. Key evaluation mechanisms include:

* A biennial progress report describing progress and achievements;

* A practical set of indicators for measuring and describing progress against objectives and strategies;

* Direct stakeholder participation in evaluation and reporting through the Stakeholder Advisory Council, Regional Committee on Ocean Management, and biennial Forum Workshops;

* Use of external specialists or reviewers; and

* Interviews, audits or questionnaires.

One of the specific objectives of the ESSIM plan is to ensure that monitoring and reporting are timely and effective.

The proposal for the PNCIMA planning process indicates that a monitoring and evaluation framework will be established for the PNCIMA Initiative to assess:

* the planning process;

* implementation of the integrated management plan; and

* effectiveness of the integrated management plan in achieving intended outcomes.

Evaluation results will be used to identify priority areas of the process or plan for further work or modification (PNCIMA 2010b, 8).

7. Adaptive management

Planning strategies should be designed to be flexible and refined over time to incorporate both research findings and the results of monitoring. Strategies should also require adjustments to address new information about ecosystem conditions and other management concerns.

Adaptive management is an essential component of modern oceans management. Planning strategies should be designed to be flexible and to be refined over time to incorporate new research findings (WCPA/IUCN 2007). Adaptive management recognizes the complex and uncertain nature of marine ecosystems and economies, and acknowledges the need for management plans to adjust to changes and new information (Day et al. 2008).

The ESSIM Plan states that it will "provide long-term direction and commitment for integrated, ecosystem-based and adaptive management" (Canada 2007, 5). The intention is that strategies in the plan will be revised as necessary as implementation proceeds. The five-year review process is designed to assess plan outcomes and plan performance, and to make revisions to planning strategies in response to monitoring and reporting. The PNCIMA process has not yet designed an adaptive management strategy, but adaptability and adaptive management are included in its core principles.

8. Adequate information

There should be a good understanding of the planning area, its resources and people, prior to initiating any planning process. Research capacity should be built into the management arrangement.

The national Oceans Strategy strongly emphasizes knowledge, including marine science, user group knowledge, and traditional ecological knowledge of Aboriginal communities (Chircop and Hildebrand 2006). The Strategy also commits to increased access to information and dissemination of knowledge to parties involved in marine planning processes (Chircop and Hildebrand 2006). However, the Strategy may undervalue the contribution that can be made by non-governmental academic and research institutions (Chircorp and Hildebrand 2006). According to Chircop and Hildebrand (2006, 39) this indicates "that the traditional uneasiness of civil servants with the academic establishment continues and defeats the expressed intent on integrating knowledge."

Much scientific research and assessment work has been undertaken by DFO and others in support of the five LOMA initiatives. For example, research for the ESSIM process has included environmental data collected under the Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program, monitoring of contaminants, monitoring of populations of fish and marine mammals, and numerous other ecological baseline studies conducted by DFO (Canada 2007). The ESSIM Planning Office is currently developing a geospatial assessment tool based on mapping of human use patterns and environmental characteristics. The ESSIM plan identifies a need for additional monitoring to fill gaps, such as data on broad socio-economic trends, and a need for better linkages among monitoring programs and better communication of results (Canada 2007).

Prior to the start of the PNCIMA planning process, DFO focused on collecting baseline and background ecological and socio-economic data about the planning area. Other agencies and organizations have also collected extensive data on the Pacific coast. Although these bodies often require similar information they have historically collected data separately. Too often, data are scattered across governments, agencies and other organizations, and coordination to harmonize data collection and management, as well as strategies for data sharing, should be developed within the integrated planning process. The British Columbia Marine Conservation Analysis is an example of a collaborative project that brings together the expertise of representatives from the federal government, British Columbia government, First Nations, academia and environmental organizations (BCMCA 2010a). The goal of the project is to detect regions of high conservation value and human use on the Pacific coast in order to provide the opportunity for cross-sectoral discussion about the marine environment and enable streamlined access to information (BCMCA 2010b).

Such research and monitoring for integrated marine planning requires substantial and secure commitments of long-term funding. The Health of the Oceans Initiatives include short-term funding for four Centres of Expertise, which are to
  develop national approaches to: effectively incorporate traditional
  knowledge; better protect Canada's deep sea coral and sponges;
  accelerate progress in addressing coastal management issues; and
  develop reports on the health of our oceans (OMRN 2009).

Reports from these Centres of Expertise at the Ocean Management Research Network Conference in 2009 indicate additional long-term commitments of funding for research and monitoring in LOMAs will be needed.

9. Adaptation to context

Management and planning in marine space should be tailored to the environmental, social, cultural and legislative circumstances within which they will be applied.

The overarching legislation and policy for marine planning and integrated management at the national level provide a framework within which to regionally design the LOMA planning processes. This framework recognizes that subject to broad overall goals, objectives, principles and design constraints, the specific processes and outcomes for each LOMA should be unique and tailored to regional circumstances, reflecting input from local stakeholders. The collaborative planning models for the ESSIM and Beaufort Sea LOMA processes have been specifically designed to fit the unique jurisdictional contexts, major stakeholders, and Aboriginal peoples in each region. Some of the local contextual factors that will shape the PNCIMA process include unsettled and overlapping claims of Aboriginal rights and title over coastal and marine regions, communities that have historically been highly dependent on marine resources, potential but unproven oil and gas reserves, and unresolved disputes between the federal and provincial governments over ownership and jurisdiction in certain parts of the PNCIMA.

10. Integration

Integrated marine planning requires integration of socio-cultural, economic, and ecological values and necessitates both behavioural and institutional change.

Integrated management is a primary objective of Canada's ocean legislation and policy:
  As the cornerstone of the governance approach, Integrated Management
  establishes decision-making structures that consider both the
  conservation and protection of ecosystems, while at the same time
  providing opportunities for creating wealth in oceans related
  economies and communities. It brings together the environmental,
  economic and social considerations by planning for sustainable use of
  the oceans in a safe and secure environment. In addition, integrated
  Management provides the opportunity to bring together the citizens who
  want to be engaged in decisions that affect them (Canada 2002, v-vi).

Integration is of special importance for planning in the marine environment due to the nature and complexities of interactions in marine space. The inherently mobile nature of oceans and of marine resources requires integration on a number of levels, including integration of user groups and sectoral organisations with government bodies into a cohesive governance structure; integration of natural, spatial and social sciences to enable better decision-making; and integration of environmental, social, and economic dimensions (Cicin-Sain and Belfiore 2003). Components of integrated management are woven throughout the principles discussed above. The ESSIM plan incorporates and to some extent integrates the results of natural, spatial and social science research, and also attempts to integrate environmental, social and economic considerations. However, developing an integrated governance structure was less difficult for the initial ESSIM plan than it will be for other LOMAs because ESSIM began with the region outside the 12 mile territorial sea. For PNCIMA, the Memoranda of Understanding that have been entered into between the federal and provincial governments and between the federal government and First Nations are very positive steps toward governmental integration, as is the initial governance structure established for the planning process. Whether this level of governmental integration can be maintained throughout the planning process, and whether the plan will be able to integrate across scientific disciplines and social, economic and ecological dimensions remains to be seen.

Table 3 summarizes the results of this evaluation of the federal marine planning framework and lists brief recommendations for improvement based on the ten principles used as evaluation criteria.
Table 3. Summary of the evaluation of Canada's federal marine
planning framework

Planning          Assessment                  Recommendations

1. Inclusive      Oceans management utilizes  Continue ongoing processes
participation     extensive stakeholder       of stakeholder involvement
                  engagement through          and consider increased
                  collaborative               delegation of decision
                  multi-stakeholder           making power to
                  processes. However, the     stakeholder bodies.
                  role of stakeholders
                  remains advisory and there
                  has not been delegation of
                  real decision making
                  powers to stakeholders.

2. Leadership     The federal government has  Either DFO must adapt and
and               designated DFO as lead      embrace its new role in
accountability    agency. However, DFO has    integrated marine
                  struggled with its          management, or the federal
                  potentially conflicting     government should consider
                  roles in oceans             establishing a new
                  management, and some        institution to lead and
                  stakeholders do not trust   manage marine planning
                  its leadership.             under the Oceans Act.

3. Legal          Canada has a comprehensive  No major changes required
framework         legal framework for         to the federal
                  integrated ocean            legislation. Coordination
                  management.                 with other jurisdictions
                                              should be improved.

4. Comprehensive  Comprehensive goals exist   Create measurable and
goals with        at the national level,      realistic targets with
measurable        although specific           timelines to assess
targets           objectives are yet to be    progress towards goals and
                  prescribed at the regional  objectives at the national
                  level. Measurable targets   and regional levels.
                  do not exist regionally or

5. Effective      The national Oceans         An effective strategy at
strategy          Strategy does not provide   the regional level must
                  a detailed approach for     outline how goals and
                  meeting goals. Current      targets will be met and
                  regional strategies are     specify what will be
                  overly general and in some  achieved, how, by whom,
                  places vague, and           and in what time frame.
                  inadequate resources are    Adequate resources must be
                  committed for strategies    allocated to implement
                  to achieve goals.           strategies

6. Progress       There is some progress      There should be regular,
monitoring and    monitoring and reporting    independent public
reporting         at the federal level, but   reporting of progress in
                  it is limited. There is a   implementing plans and
                  commitment to progress      assessment for achieving
                  monitoring for the LOMA     targets. Deficiencies in
                  plans, but the extent to    progress should be clearly
                  which this commitment will  delineated.
                  be fulfilled remains to be

7. Adaptive       Adaptive management is      Regional planning
management        included in Canada's        strategies should be
                  Oceans Management           designed to be flexible
                  Strategy, but there is no   and refined over time to
                  concise directive for how   incorporate research
                  it should be applied. It    findings and monitoring
                  is not clear how adaptive   results, and should
                  management will be put      require revisions to
                  into operation              address new information
                  regionally.                 about ecosystem conditions
                                              and other management

8. Adequate       DFO and other researchers   A robust management
information       have been actively          strategy should be
                  collecting baseline and     utilized that coordinates
                  background ecological and   and incorporates knowledge
                  socioeconomic data about    from a range of sources
                  the LOMA regions. Data      and that allows open
                  harmonization among         access to information.
                  agencies is sometimes

9. Adaptation to  The national guidelines     International and national
context           for marine planning         marine planning
                  recognize that the          initiatives should inform
                  specific outcomes for each  LOMA management
                  LOMA should be unique and   strategies, but each LOMA
                  tailored to regional        process should continue to
                  circumstances. The ESSIM    be tailored to the unique
                  process was adapted to      regional circumstances.
                  local circumstances and
                  stakeholders. At this time
                  a specific framework has
                  yet to be developed at the
                  regional level for the
                  PNCIMA process.

10. Integration   Although the Oceans Act     Create effective
                  provides the explicit       strategies that enable
                  mandate to implement an     better integration of
                  integrated approach to      socio  cultural, economic,
                  oceans management in        and ecological knowledge
                  Canada's marine regions,    and values into the
                  progress towards achieving  management framework for
                  this integrated framework   LOMAs. Special attention
                  has been slow.              should continue to be
                                              given to integrated
                                              governance structures.


Governance of Canada's oceans is moving away from a fragmented, species-by-species, and jurisdictionally-divided approach toward a shared governance model using ecosystem-based management. Our evaluation of Canada's ocean management system based on internationally applied principles shows that while there has been progress, there is room for significant additional improvement. On the positive side, Canada has a comprehensive legislative and policy framework in place and marine planning is proceeding based on inclusive stakeholder processes. Some initiatives have been successfully implemented and numerous background studies assessing marine resources have been completed. Evolving governance arrangements are allowing a greater level of co-ordination and collaboration and government bodies are working in partnership. Overall, however, progress is critically slow, both for sensitive areas of the marine environment and for the people and communities that depend on healthy ecosystems for wellbeing and livelihood.

Substantial long-term benefits for both the private and the public sectors can be achieved through large-scale marine planning. If DFO can embrace its new mandate and move from a fisheries focus to one of integrated management and if jurisdictional complications can be overcome, Canada's ocean management framework may be able to achieve a shift towards a more sustainable balance of economic and conservation considerations. However, in order to move forward with integrated oceans management there must be more consistent higher-level commitment and advocacy, dedication of long-term funding, development of measurable goals and targets with timelines, more effective strategies, and implementation of comprehensive monitoring and adaptive management.


Funding for this project was provided by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Tides Canada Foundation Marine Planning Donor Advised Fund. We would also like to thank Tides Canada for helping to fund the research for this article.


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Murray Rutherford is an Associate Professor in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. He is a policy scientist and planner whose research focuses on environmental policy analysis, evaluation, institutions and decision making. He can be reached at

Megan Dickinson is an environmental consultant with a Master's degree in Resource and Environmental Management and a B.Sc. in Environmental Science from Simon Fraser University. Her research interests include integrated marine planning, sustainability, waste management and reduction, communication and dialogue around complex issues, and conservation.

Thomas Gunton is Professor and Director of the Resource and Environmental Planning Program in the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University. He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and has extensive professional experience including Assistant Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines for the Government of Manitoba, and Deputy Minister of Environment Lands and Parks, and Deputy Minister of Policy and Planning for the Government of British Columbia.
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