Marine Protected Areas

CPAWS defines marine protected areas (or MPAs) as areas legally designated to provide long-term protection of marine ecosystems, processes, habitats and species including marine biodiversity, and which can contribute to the restoration and replenishment of resources for social, economic and cultural enrichment.  In general terms, this means that the area, from the surface to the bottom, is protected from some activities which may have negative effects on the area.

At present, Canada has declared 8 MPAs and has another 8 under consideration.  Information on these can be found at the website for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  In New Brunswick, we have only the Musquash Estuary MPA declared.


Rivers and oceans are as susceptible to damage from human activities as our land.  Whether it is from pollution, overharvesting of fish or other sea-life, natural resource extraction and development, or climate change, the end result is the degradation of natural ecosystems and the possible extinction of species.  Protecting marine areas is an important step in trying to preserve the biodiversity of our waters.

While Canada boasts one of the largest ocean territories in the world, less than 1{a3162b1395e34f5bc6dd788a255c8e2a209e2a614c3b42176989b624267eff88} of it is protected through meaningful long-term conservation measures. CPAWS is encouraging Canada to complete a national network of marine protected areas that protects at least half of Canada’s ocean estate, with an objective to meet the international target of protecting at least 10{a3162b1395e34f5bc6dd788a255c8e2a209e2a614c3b42176989b624267eff88} of coastal and marine areas by 2020.

In the lead-up to Canada’s 150th birthday, CPAWS is calling on the federal government to accelerate efforts to establish a national network of marine protected areas as an essential step to conserve marine life and support sustainable fisheries. This includes establishing a network of marine protected areas in the Bay of Fundy, and moving forward with the Shediac Valley Area of Interest.

Take Action:
Over 16,000 people have signed on in support of marine protection in Canada. Add your voice to support advancing marine conservation through the establishment of a network of marine protected areas! Take the Dare to be Deep pledge here.


Myth and Madness: Conquering the Tragedy of Marine Protection in Canada

MPA Quick Reference (2011) – A quick overview of the Science-based Guidelines for Marine Protected Areas and MPA Networks in Canada

MPA Guidelines (2011) – In a report commissioned by CPAWS, these science-based guidelines were developed to inform the design and implementation of effective networks of MPAs throughout Canada’s oceans.