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Conserving marine ecosystems

Target 6.3: Marine ecosystems – Improve the conservation of ocean areas and marine ecosystems by 2012.

Canada has approximately 59,900 square kilometres (km2) of federal, provincial and territorial protected areas covering about 1% of oceans (from the shoreline out to the limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone) and Great Lakes. Almost 49,100 km2 of this protected area is marine and 10,800 km2 is in the Great Lakes.

As assessed to date, contributory sites conserve an additional 0.7% (38,400 km2) of Canada's oceans

The Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which includes Canada, adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 in October 2010. The plan includes 20 global, aspirational targets, one of which includes the conservation of "at least...10 per cent of coastal and marine areas…through…ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures" by 2020.

The National Framework for Canada's Network of MPAs was released in September 2011. It sets the overarching direction for the establishment of 13 nationally consistent bioregional networks of MPAs, in accordance with internationally accepted best practices. Bioregional MPA network planning is already underway in 5 bioregions.

State of the Oceans Reports have been developed for each of the five large ocean management areas, as well as a national summary report.

The Government of Canada has a commitment under the Oceans Act to designate MPAs. To date, eight Oceans Act MPAs have been established, and there are seven active Areas of Interest across the country. Once designated, these MPAs will be included in Canada's national marine protected area network. Indicators and monitoring strategies used as the basis for management have been developed for 75% of the Oceans Act MPAs. In 2010, through collaboration between Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Inuvialuit people, private industry, local stakeholders, and governments, Canada designated the Tarium Niryutait Oceans Act MPAs. This is Canada's first MPA in the Arctic, where it protects the biological resources, including a population of beluga whales. This area is particularly important to the Beaufort Sea beluga whale stock.

The government has also established three new National Wildlife Area sites on Baffin Island, and one of these sites, the Ninginganiq (Isabella Bay), is the world's first-ever sanctuary for bowhead whales, assessed as threatened in Canada. Canada also proposed to establish the Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area on the Pacific Coast. The Scott Islands support the highest concentration of breeding seabirds in Canada's Pacific Ocean, and is one of the most ecologically vital locations in the Pacific Northwest Ocean ecosystem.

Over the last few years, the government has added more than 13,500 km2 to Parks Canada's system of national marine conservation areas. It is taking additional actions that will add up to 60,700 km2 to the system, thereby increasing the total water area that comes under Parks Canada's stewardship by 74,200 km2. In 2010, Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site was established, making it the first marine site to be legally protected under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act. Progress is also being made towards establishing national marine conservation areas for Lancaster Sound in Nunavut, for the Southern Strait of Georgia in British Columbia and for a marine protected areas in the waters surrounding les ÎIes-de-la-Madeleine in Quebec.

Canada has adopted an integrated approach to the management of ocean-based activities. Five large ocean management areas (LOMAs) were established and form the planning basis for implementation of integrated management (IM) plans. These plans guide decision-makers in conservation, sustainable development, and use of coastal and marine resources. IM plans have been developed in three LOMAs, with the remaining two plans to be completed this year, and implementation will follow.

For additional information on the implementation strategies that support this target, please consult the following websites: Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Parks Canada.

Progress towards Target 6.3: Percentage of marine area under a conservation regime

Canada has approximately 59,900 km2 of federal, provincial and territorial protected areas covering about 1% of oceans (from the shoreline out to the limit of the Exclusive Economic Zone) and the Great Lakes. Almost 49,100 km2 of this protected area is marine and 10,800 km2 is in the Great Lakes. As assessed to date, contributory sites shown in Figure 4.10 conserve an additional 0.7% (38,400 km2 ) of Canada's oceans.

Canada is establishing a national network of MPAs, with the primary goal of protecting marine biodiversity, ecosystem function and special natural features. There are other conservation areas in the marine environment, known as "contributory sites," which contribute to achieving the objectives of the MPA network even though they do not meet the definition of an MPA. Contributory sites include, for example, some areas where critical habitat is protected under the provisions of SARA, and some areas where fishing activities are restricted under the Fisheries Act.

For the most up-to-date information on this indicator, please visit CESI.

Figure 4.10: Marine protected areas and contributory sites, Canada, 2012

Marine protected areas and contributory sites, Canada, 2012

Long Description

The map shows the location of the marine protected areas and contributory sites in the Arctic, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. The marine protected areas are shown in blue, and the contributory sites are shown in red. The Pacific Ocean has the largest marine protected and contributory sites area. Geographic boundaries are approximate.


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