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Future-proofing Marine Protected Area Networks

Marine Protected Area networks and other spatial management tools offer an important strategy that forms a growing aspect of ocean governance. Marine Protected Areas are often designed to protect biodiversity, sustain or enhance productivity and critical habitat, maintain ocean health and provide insurance against sudden or drastic changes resulted from over-exploited resources.

Canada is committed to expanding its Marine Protected Area coverage from ~1% to 10% by the year 2020. This research aims to complement existing planning efforts to help ‘future-proof’ Marine Protected Area networks and other spatial management tools such as fisheries closures and critical habitat designations. This project will integrate observational data on shifting habitats and ecosystems with real-time remote sensing, animal movement and vessel tracking data to understand — and model — changes in ocean conditions, biological resources and human use patterns relevant to Marine Protected Areas. 

Outcomes will:

  • provide an integrated toolkit and decision-making framework for static versus dynamic management
  • establish a regional citizen-scientist observer base into ocean observation and monitoring
  • develop novel statistical tools for dynamic modeling of changing conditions
  • design novel legal tools for decision-making in a dynamic environmental context.

Principal investigators:

  • Boris Worm, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University
  • David Vanderzwaag, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University