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Industrial Activities Prohibited in Future Marine Protected Areas

Orcas in Gitga’at territory. Photo by Brodie Guy.

New federal standards for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Canada prohibit industrial activities within the areas, including oil and gas activities, mining, dumping and bottom trawling.

“Canadians expect us to take action to protect unique ocean ecosystems while ensuring coastal communities thrive,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. “The new standards for marine conservation we are announcing today will provide for high levels of environmental protection in a manner that is sensitive to important economic actors such as fish harvesters.”

The approach was one of the recommendations by the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Areas Standards. In 2018, Coast Funds’ executive director provided a written submission to the panel proposing a made-in-Canada model of conservation finance apply to MPAs to ensure they are stewarded to achieve long-term conservation.

The prohibitions will not automatically apply to activities in fisheries conservation areas, which will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount MPA, an ecologically and culturally significant area, is one of the many protected regions that will now be off limits to industrial activity. The Seamount is located 180 kilometres offshore and to the west of Haida Gwaii, and rises from a depth of 3,000 metres to within 24 meters of the surface.

In 2018, the Haida Nation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Oceana Canada, and Ocean Networks Canada spent 17 days exploring the seamounts, using remotely operated vehicles to map the seafloor of the MPA. See some of the highlights here.

Read the full backgrounder on the new standards to protect Canada’s oceans here.