Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

How Protected are Canada's Oceans?

Only one percent of Canada’s oceans are covered by some type of protected area. These areas vary greatly in terms of the protection they afford. Using the guidelines established by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the managers of protected areas, whether terrestrial, marine, or both, assign an IUCN category to each site based on its management intent and objectives. IUCN categories Ia, Ib, II, and III are the most strict and prohibit resource extraction, with the possible exception of traditional harvesting by First Nations.

Modified: January 22, 2015

Unfortunately, management intent does not always match reality. For example, most of Canada’s marine protected areas (MPAs) are intended to be strictly protected but despite all of the red, orange, and yellow that you see on the map, only one MPA in the Canadian Pacific prohibits all resource extraction. Further, ocean conservation groups consider only two Québec MPAs to be adequately protected: Saguenay St-Laurent marine park (parc marin du Saguenay - Saint-Laurent) and the proposed Manicouagan aquatic reserve (réserve aquatique projetée de Manicouagan).

Note: MPAs can have both a marine and a terrestrial zone, which are not always differentiated on the map. 56 percent of the MPAs cover more land than water, despite their classification as marine protected areas by federal, provincial, or territorial government agencies. MPA boundaries have been simplified to speed display.

Data: Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CARTS database), Québec Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change (Développement durable, Environnement et Lutte contre les changements climatiques)


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