Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area | WWF-Canada
 
	© WWF-Canada

Laurentian Channel

Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area

The Laurentian Channel is proposed to be a marine protected area (MPA) under the Oceans Act. The channel, an underwater valley between Cape Breton and Newfoundland in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is bigger than Cape Breton Island at 11,619 sq. km., and set to be Canada’s largest MPA. It’s part of a summer feeding area for migratory ocean mammals, including humpback and minke whales, as well as endangered blue and North Atlantic right whales.

In response to the proposed regulations for Laurentian Channel, WWF-Canada launched a campaign to ban oil and gas drilling in the channel before regulations are finalized. Add your voice by sending an email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today.




Seapens are related to corals
© DFO Maritimes / WWF-Canada

The area was identified by Fisheries and Oceans Canada as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area, and conservation objectives for the MPA include protecting endangered leatherback sea turtles, sea pen corals, threatened Northern wolffish, porbeagle sharks, smooth skates and black dogfish.
 
Proposed regulations for the Laurentian Channel, published in June 2017, include allowing oil and gas exploration and extraction in more than 80 per cent of the marine protected area with directional drilling (non-vertical wells) allowed over much of the rest of the site.
 
These activities threaten the wildlife of the region because:
 
●      Drilling operations increase sedimentation in the water, which damages sensitive species such as sea pens and cold-water corals.
●      Seismic blasts cause physical injuries to whales and fish, and can scare wildlife away from important habitats.
●      Oil spills, though rare, would devastate this area.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature prohibits industrial activities, especially extraction of resources such as fossil fuels, from all types of marine protected areas. This means that Canada’s largest MPA should not count towards agreed targets to protect 5 per cent of our marine areas by December 31, 2017 and 10 per cent by 2020.
WWF-Canada has been working for years to exclude oil and gas exploration and extraction from the Laurentian Channel regulations and from all marine protected areas in Canada. Oil and gas activities are never compatible with conservation, and are banned from national parks on land.

Porbeagle shark, Nova Scotia
© Doug Perrine / WWF-Canada

right whales

 
	© WWF-Canada
There are only about 500 North Atlantic right whales left in the ocean. Every summer, they migrate to their feeding grounds around Atlantic Canada. Find out more about these endangered whales.

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	© Canadian Whale Institute/Yan Guilbault / WWF-Canada
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