Marine Protected Areas
Oceans at riskOur oceans are in crisis worldwide. About one in four species of sharks, rays and skates on Earth are now threatened with extinction, due primarily to overfishing. On all three of Canada’s coasts, according to the WWF-Canada’s Living Planet Report, monitored populations of marine fish, birds, mammals and reptiles, dropped on average by nine per cent overall between 1970 and 2014. In Atlantic Canada, marine fish – species such as cod, mackerel and tuna, as well as sharks, skates and rays – have declined by 38 per cent during that time.
Humans are having a major impact on our oceans. Overfishing and bycatch remain some of the biggest threats to marine species. Climate change threatens ocean life, as marine ecosystems continue to deteriorate due to ocean warming and acidification.
Healthy oceans need protectionHealthy oceans depend on a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) to help protect species, habitats and ecosystems. MPAs shelter ocean life and habitats so they can recover from human impacts like pollution or overfishing. They are similar to protected areas on land, such as National Parks: sites set aside to conserve the natural environment for the long term, protecting not just one single species, but the ecosystem as a whole.
WWF-Canada seeks to support and even surpass Canada’s commitment to protect 10 per cent of its marine spaces by 2020. WWF strongly supports and encourages efforts by Canada and other nations around the world to develop and implement networks of MPAs with high ecological standards. Effective MPAs are off-limits to industrial uses, including oil and gas extraction, commercial fishing and seabed mining.
About marine protected areas and refuges
Canada has many Marine Protected Areas, of varying sizes and with different levels of protection. This interactive map allows you to explore some of the existing MPAs (purple) and proposed (blue) MPA sites identified by the federal government in all three of Canada's oceans and the Great Lakes.