Marine Protected Areas
Newfoundland & Labrador
A Publication of The Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland & Labrador
Marine Protected Areas and Fishing Communities What is
in Newfoundland and Labrador a Marine Protected Area?
Imagine if 30 years ago we had set aside a corner of the Grand Banks A marine protected area (MPA) is a part of the ocean protected from harmful human activity. Examples
protecting the fish that spawned and lived there. of things that might be protected in an MPA are fish and their habitat, spawning areas, and special
That single act might have prevented the fisheries crisis. underwater features. Exactly what a particular MPA would look like and accomplish would depend on what
F ishing communities have existed in Newfoundland and Labrador for more than 450 years. We fished for
was to be protected. Many kinds of MPAs are possible, and they can have a variety of sizes and functions.
cod, created our own unique culture, and prospered – relying on a sustainable, renewable fishery that Marine protected areas can help conserve the plants, mammals and fish that live within them. However,
lasted almost five centuries. harmful human activities must be restricted. Those that are not harmful – such as sustainable fishing and
tourism activities – are usually allowed.
Things are different now. The Newfoundland and Labrador marine environment is in trouble. Northern cod,
lobster, lumpfish, and caplin stocks, among others, have been depleted, and the fishing communities that Marine protected areas alone cannot fully protect all that lives in the ocean, but they can:
depended on them face an uncertain future.
Protect different kinds of habitats
Despite quotas, regulations, and enforcement efforts, our fishery is not sustainable. Even the 1992
Provide safe places for endangered or depleted species
moratorium on cod fishing, which left 30,000 people out of work, has not brought back the cod as quickly Protect key ecological processes in the ocean, such as upwellings
as we hoped. Create "seed banks" for some commercial fish and plant species
Contribute to the retention of genetic diversity
Clearly, if we want to continue to harvest the sea's resources, and if our coastal communities are to survive Allow spill-over and improved recruitment for commercial stocks
as fishing communities, we must be creative in how we manage the fishery. We need innovative, effective Foster non-disruptive economic activities, such as sustainable fishing, whale watching, scuba diving,
ways to protect marine habitat and stocks, so that they can rebound and survive into the future. The old and kayaking
ways are not enough anymore. Provide "insurance" against future management errors, accidents or environmental changes
Serve as natural laboratories for marine research and monitoring
Government has a responsibility to help us sustain our fisheries and our communities. But it is our people –
fishers and others who live along our coasts – who must take the lead role in finding the new ways. In Newfoundland and Labrador, marine protected areas could play an important role in reviving and
Communities are the key players because it is their future that is at stake.
safeguarding the future health of the marine environment, the fishery, and coastal communities.
The Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (PAA) believes that establishing marine
protected areas (MPAs) is one good way to help conserve ocean resources and help ensure a positive MPAs can provide a foundation for additional benefits, including economic development, marine
future for the coastal communities of this province. The PAA is also committed to involving communities in tourism, scientific research, and the satisfaction of knowing that a part of the ocean is protected, and
creating MPAs. relatively safe from harm.
Creating marine protected areas can shape the future in a way that honours our people, our heritage, and
the sea. Please read on, and learn how establishing a marine protected area can help our fisheries – and
our communities – become as healthy as they once were.
2 Zoning for activities within an MPA: one model 3
Marine Protected Areas How Are Marine Protected Areas
and the Fishery Different from Fisheries Closures?
MPAs can act as a sort of "insurance policy" for the ocean, providing a buffer against future ocean
management mistakes. In particular, MPAs can provide important habitat protection – providing
S ome people fear marine protected areas are "just another kind of fisheries closure". But fisheries
closures and marine protected areas differ in important ways.
safe, undisturbed places for fish to live in and reproduce. Objectives:
Increased productivity inside the reserve can have 'spillover' effects, potentially increasing catch rates Fisheries closures are reactionary. They are typically initiated as a means of temporarily addressing a
outside the protected area. Also, MPAs provide a place to study the marine environment, providing commercial fishery problem – such as low populations or catch rates, too much bycatch,
opportunities to learn more about fish and how to better manage fishing activities. poor quality, size of fish, or marketing issues (e.g., watery fish, soft-shelled crab).
MPAs, on the other hand, are proactive and planned. They are established with the long-term view of
The benefits MPAs could provide to fisheries are difficult to prove scientifically because there are not ensuring that a marine ecosystem is kept healthy well into the future, for the benefit of future
enough MPAs in Canada to fully assess their benefits. It makes sense that providing special generations.
protection for critical spawning and rearing areas of fish populations will help. Research in other parts
of the world indicates that MPAs can hold great potential to improve the health of fish populations. Level of community involvement:
Fisheries closures are called by government agencies, sometimes with little involvement from fishers
or fishing communities.
MPAs, on the other hand, depend heavily on fish harvester and community involvement in setting the
Will Fishing be Permitted In or Near MPAs? goals of the MPA, and developing and implementing management plans.
While some MPAs, or some parts of an MPA, may be designated as "no-take" zones, an MPA does not
have to be a completely harvest-free area. In Newfoundland and Labrador, sustainable fishing can Fisheries closures generally focus on one species at a time, just as most fisheries management
be expected to continue in MPAs, provided it does not harm what is intended to be protected. In techniques manage species in isolation from one another.
this way, people in communities next to MPAs can continue to make a living from the sea. MPAs take a multi-species approach, placing emphasis on an area, and the entire ecosystem. MPAs
recognize that species interact, and manage accordingly.
In fact, the creation of marine protected areas may well mean that people will be able to make a
better living from the sea than they do now. The MPA concept has always aimed to improve the Benefits:
quality of life for people by reducing the likelihood of serious damage to the marine environment and
the species that live there, and by providing a sustainable livelihood. Fisheries closures, as a management tool, tend to benefit fish harvesters and processors.
MPAs, however, have broader benefits. Not only do fish harvesters and processors benefit from
An MPA would also give communities greater decision-making powers over how the area is healthier stocks (ensuring future economic returns for fishing effort), but communities and
managed, by allowing residents to have a significant role in the development and implementation other industries can also benefit, through activities such as tourism and scientific research.
of management plans.
The Eastport Peninsula Lobster Protection Concerns that Fishing Communities
Committee: A Community Success Story have about MPAs
I n 1995 the 51 lobster harvesters of the Eastport Peninsula began to talk about lobster conservation. They
were concerned that catches were down, and felt that illegal activities such as the fishing of undersized
lobster and setting more than legal numbers of pots was contributing to low catches. To deal with these In its marine conservation work, the Protected Areas Association has asked people from fishing
issues, they formed the Eastport Peninsula Lobster Protection Committee. communities about their thoughts and concerns regarding MPAs.
Initially the Committee concentrated on stopping illegal activities by fishers and non-fishers. People are generally supportive of MPAs in principle, although they also have some important
Their comprehensive three-pronged lobster conservation plan now includes: concerns about how MPAs might affect their lives and their ability to make a living from the sea.
Improving public education and community discussion of the benefits of following harvesting
Some of the main areas of concern include:
guidelines, and the importance of compliance by all;
Loss of access to species, or to traditional fishing or hunting grounds;
V-notching egg-bearing female lobsters, and returning them to the water to reproduce; and
Closing two prime lobster areas to increase reproduction in the overall area.
Restrictions on gear, fishing seasons, or areas of fishing activity;
Insufficient community involvement and/or too much government interference – in both the
Fishers support the Committee's work, and have been impressed by increased lobster catches. After establishment and management of an MPA;
one year, the number of egg-bearing females in the closed area was about double the number in Poor enforcement: the MPA would be a protected area in name only if enforcement is lacking;
fished areas outside it up to 1996. In 1998 the majority of people fished a shorter time yet surpassed MPAs "give permission" to over-exploit the rest of the ocean, if the only areas adequately
their 1997 landings; most fishermen reported increases of 10 to 25%. This is especially impressive when protected are inside the MPA; then pressure would be put on fish in adjacent areas, cancelling-
the rest of the province has seen about a 20% decrease in catch rate. out some of the benefits;
Uncertainty about what will happen in the future -- whether, once established, the boundaries of
The Committee continues to make special efforts to ensure enforcement is achieved without pitting an MPA would continue to increase over time, or that interests of non-fishers might take over;
fisherman against fisherman. They hold public meetings to discuss enforcement issues, and then make Fear that the fisheries benefits of an MPA would not stay within the community because fish
suggestions to DFO about where the enforcement emphasis is needed. They have always tried to be migrate, and protecting a stock in one place may serve to benefit other communities.
above board and honest, and to ensure that no one receives special treatment. Their goal is to practice
measures that will lead to improved harvests, and to do it through the support of the whole fishing These issues are serious, and must be addressed before any MPA is established. Communities
community. and residents have a right to be included in a significant way in discussions about MPAs, and
government has a responsibility to provide information and include communities in decision-
A video"In Our Own Hands," on the work of the Eastport fishers, is available. The Committee is developing
another as regional demand for information on the project is high. Other communities are investigating
setting up their own reserves in response to the visible results of the Eastport project.
The program was developed by fishermen with encouragement and assistance from Parks Canada, DFO
and Memorial University.
While the Eastport Peninsula
lobster harvesters have not
formally established an MPA, their
techniques to conserve the lobster
resource are very much like an
MPA. Their initiatives show how a
community can address
conservation issues in a positive,
productive way, and help ensure a
healthy future for themselves.
What Role Should Communities Have
in Managing Marine Protected Areas?
G overnment, as the body legally responsible for the health of the ocean, will play an important
role in setting up and managing MPAs. It is critical, however, that fishers and coastal community
residents play an integral role in discussions about any marine protected areas initiative that might
affect them. They must be equal partners at the table in planning and designing MPAs.
Governments realize that MPAs are a sensitive topic for many people in fishing communities, and are
responding by putting a strong emphasis on community involvement. Experience in other countries
has shown that the MPAs that provide the greatest benefits are those with the most community
Communities can benefit greatly by taking initiative and making decisions for themselves about how
the marine environment should be managed. Community management of MPAs is key to their
ongoing success, and to ensuring that communities benefit from the MPA.
It is critical that coastal community residents receive information that will enable them to be central
players in MPA decision-making. The Protected Areas Association believes this strongly, and hopes to
play an integral role in helping Newfoundland and Labrador fishing communities be key decision-
makers in any MPA initiative in the province.
For further information about any of these ideas or initiatives, contact:
The Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland and Labrador
P Box 1027, Stn C., St. John's, NF A1C 5M5
Tel (709) 726-2603; fax (709) 726-2764; e-mail = email@example.com
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Science Branch, P Box 5667, St. John’s, NF A1C 5X1
Eastport Lobster Protection Committee, c/o George Feltham, tel (709) 677-2610
Inka Milewski, Atlantic MPAs Coordinator for World Wildlife Fund Canada; tel (506) 622-2460
Canada Trust: Friends of the Environment Foundation
A Publication of The Protected Areas Association of Newfoundland & Labrador