Canada Achieves Marine Conservation Goals by 2030

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia – Canada’s oceans play an essential role in the lives of Canadians from coast to coast to coast. They are critical to all life on the planet, are home to a vast array of species and organisms, help regulate the Earth’s climate, and play a significant role in our heritage, culture, and economy. The Government of Canada is taking action to further protect our oceans, so that future generations can continue our tradition as a proud ocean nation and enjoy the many benefits of healthy marine ecosystems.

Today, during the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5), the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced key developments that continue the momentum towards Canada meeting its ambitious targets of conserving 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030.

To start, Canada unveiled its 2023 Marine Protected Area (MPA) Protection Standard, which is endorsed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Transport Canada. The 2023 protection standard builds on and clarifies the original 2019 policy, which was based on recommendations from the National Advisory Panel on MPA Standards and applies to federal MPAs established since April 25, 2019. MPAs are an essential part of achieving marine conservation goals, and the protection standard will help safeguard new federal MPAs from the potentially harmful effects of some industrial activities. It will also provide greater consistency and clarity for industry on activities subject to the standard in federal MPAs.

The MPA Protection Standard is founded on a whole-of-government approach and prohibits:

  • Oil and gas exploration, development and production;
  • Mineral exploration and exploitation;
  • Disposal of waste and other matter, dumping of fill, and deposit of deleterious drugs and pesticides; and
  • Mobile, bottom contact, trawl or dredge gear. Trap-based fisheries are excluded.

Transport Canada will also be consulting with stakeholders on how to enhance restrictions on certain vessel discharges that occur within MPAs.

In addition to the protection standard announced today, Canada also released new details on key areas where it is exploring marine conservation, in support of the ambitious target of conserving 25 per cent of our ocean by 2025. This builds on announcements earlier this week that underscore Canada’s commitment to advancing its targets, and include the Northern Shelf Bioregion Network Action Plan, a marine refuge at Gwaxdlala/Nalaxdlala – also known as Lull Bay and Hoeya Sound, and the collaborative management and upcoming pre-publication of the proposed regulations for the Tang.ɢwan – ḥačxwiqak – Tsig̱is Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Canada Gazette, Part I for a 30-day public comment period.

While proposed future sites are at different stages of readiness, the Government of Canada is working closely with key partners and stakeholders including provinces and territories, Indigenous governments, organizations across the country, who understand the critical importance, now more than ever, of safeguarding our ocean for the future, while enabling sustainable economic development opportunities.

Today’s announcement is an important step towards the conservation and long-term protection of our marine ecosystems, and furthers Canada’s position as a world leader in marine conservation. Having well-understood standards will help boost conservation efforts while at the same time provide industry with the clarity it needs to create sustainable jobs in the marine sector.

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