Monitoring and evaluation of Canada’s Oceans Act marine protected areas: Recommendations for governance, socio-cultural and socio-economic indicators.
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Marine protected areas are becoming an increasingly popular tool in marine resource management but often monitoring programs are overlooked or are last minute additions opposed to being integral components of the management process. Monitoring and evaluation can help optimize the effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPAs) in achieving their goals and objectives. Currently within Canada, the indicators being monitored within Oceans Act MPAs are predominantly ecological in nature and are site-specific, which can pose challenges when reporting on multiple-site success to the public. This study proposes19 governance, six socio-cultural and three socio-economic indicators for Oceans Act MPAs; some relevant to all MPAs governed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, others that are site-specific. Indicators in these non-ecological areas provide a more complete picture of the successes and challenges facing Canada’s MPAs. Furthermore, common indicators make national successes clearer and simplify reporting to Canadians and the international community. A literature review, a comparative case study analyses and consultation with Department of Fisheries and Oceans staff all contributed to the results of this study: an indicator toolkit and a monitoring plan template for use by Oceans Act MPA practitioners. The two international case studies assessed, the United States Marine Sanctuaries Program, and the New South Wales Marine Parks Program provided guidance for the content of the monitoring plan template and information that should accompany the recommended