Oceans | WWF-Canada
© James CASEY / WWF-Canada


The world’s oceans produce more than half of the oxygen that sustains life on the planet. And their ability to absorb carbon dioxide helps protect all life from the harsh impact of climate change.

Our oceans are also the main source of protein for about one billion people around the world. And more than 200 million people fish for a living.

Canada has the world’s longest coastline—bordering the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans—and one of the largest ocean bodies of any country in the world.

Oceans in crisis

Once considered an inexhaustible source of food, our oceans are now in a state of global crisis caused by overfishing—which is the single biggest threat to ocean life—and poor management.
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© Cat Holloway/WWF
Over the past 50 years, many large ocean fish such as Bluefin tuna, cod and sharks have been fished to the point of collapse. Today, about 80 per cent of the world’s fish stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted.

Bycatch, which is the unintended capture of certain species, is one of the biggest problems in fishing. Every day, millions of non-target fish are caught and die. Each year, more than 250,000 marine turtles, 300,000 cetaceans and thousands of endangered sharks are trapped in commercial fishing gear.

Other demands on our oceans are accelerating. Shipping, tourism, oil and gas, renewable energy and the growth of coastal communities—all of these take a toll on ocean habitats and species. What’s more, climate change is changing ocean temperatures and acidification.

This is why we urgently need smart ocean management plans that protect important ocean ecosystems—and will keep all our oceans healthy.
© Alan Burger / WWF-Canada

What WWF is doing

It’s not too late to bring our oceans back to a state of beauty and bounty. WWF is working to change the tide, driving protection and sustainable management so our oceans have a vibrant future.
Sustainable Fishing
It’s easy to imagine that the ocean is a bottomless source of food. But the truth is that fish are in trouble. Overfishing is the single biggest threat to our oceans. One billion people rely on fish as a primary source of protein, and to meet that need we are fishing at a rate that our oceans can’t sustain. For a decade, WWF-Canada has partnered with fisheries on sustainable practices, so marine ecosystems and coastal livelihoods can thrive.
Protecting Habitat
Our oceans are becoming more crowded: As ship traffic and other industrial activities increase, whales and other marine life are losing habitat and the quiet they need to survive. WWF-Canada is advocating for protection in priority regions and working with industry on lasting solutions.
Industry Solutions
Economic opportunities abound in Canada’s oceans—for example, in the Bay of Fundy, where the world’s highest tides offer great potential for renewable energy. WWF-Canada is charting a sustainable course: We are working with industries to ensure minimal impacts on ecosystems and species.
Marine Protected Areas
WWF-Canada believes healthy oceans depend on a network of marine protected areas (MPAs), which accounts for ocean currents, species migration and other ecological connections. We are working in partnership with other groups to advocate for MPAs and engage coastal communities. WWF is also pushing for stronger conservation standards, including better management and excluding industrial activities—e.g. oil and gas, mining—within MPA boundaries.


© Neil McDaniel / WWF-Canada
© Neil McDaniel / WWF-Canada

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