Marine Protected Areas

Enabling act(s): Oceans Act

Description of the objective

The Government of Canada has made a commitment to increase the protection of our marine and coastal environments to 10% by 2020. Regulations may be developed under the Oceans Act to designate certain areas of the sea as Marine Protected Areas. These areas can be designated to provide for the conservation and protection of:

  • commercial and non-commercial fishery resources, including marine mammals, and their habitats
  • endangered or threatened marine species, and their habitats
  • unique habitats
  • marine areas of high biodiversity or biological productivity
  • any other marine resource or habitat as is necessary to fulfil the mandate of the Minister

Marine Protected Areas are one among other management tools that contribute to the improved health, integrity and productivity of our marine ecosystems and help advance integrated ocean management.

Indication of business impacts

There may be business impacts. The “One-for-One” Rule and/or Small Business Lens may apply.

Regulatory cooperation efforts (domestic and international)

The designation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) contributes to Canada's efforts to implement measures relating to several international agreements, the most significant being the Convention on Biological Diversity. In 2010, the "Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Targets" resulted from the Convention. Target 11 stipulates that: "By 2020… 10% of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascape." The designation of MPAs would contribute to meeting this international objective.

Public consultation opportunities

Since the designation process can be complex, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is striving to ensure that the designation of a Marine Protected Area is rooted in consultation with stakeholders and partners. Stakeholder Advisory Committees (composed of an array of affected/interested partners and stakeholders) participate in the policy work leading to the designation of each Marine Protected Area. Local communities are also consulted to the extent possible.

The proposals for the Laurentian Channel and the Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Areas were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on June 24, 2017 and June 30, 2018 respectively, for a 30 day public comment period and the Banc-Des-Américains Marine Protected Area Regulations was published in Part II of the Canada Gazette on March 6, 2019. It is anticipated that the Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area Regulations will be finalized and published in Part II of the Canada Gazette within the 2019-2021 planning period. It is also anticipated that the Offshore Pacific and the Eastern Shore Islands areas of interest will be proposed for designation in the Canada Gazette, Part I, during the same planning period. In addition, contingent on Royal Assent of Bill C-55, other marine areas may be proposed for interim protection in the Canada Gazette, Part I, freezing the footprint of human activities within their boundaries for a period no longer than 5 years. When these proposed Marine Protected Areas are pre-published in Canada Gazette, Part I, the public will have 30 days to provide comments to the Department.

Further information

Additional information regarding these initiatives can be found on DFO’s public website, on the Areas of Interest page. Individual pages for each Area of Interest, including overviews, key objectives and approach, additional resources, and contact information can be found through that link.

Departmental contact

Hilary Ibey
Marine Conservation Operations
Telephone: 613-295-1022
Email: Hilary.Ibey@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Date the regulatory initiative was first included in the Forward Regulatory Plan: 2012

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