Canada's Ocean, Freshwater & US

Protected Areas In Canada

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are areas of the ocean that are legally managed – from surface to seafloor – to conserve marine biodiversity. They provide protection from potentially harmful activities, while also supporting sustainable industries, local economies, and coastal communities. Canada currently has 14 MPAs comprising more than 350,000 square kilometres of our marine and coastal areas.

National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCAs) are established and managed to protect and conserve marine areas for the benefit, education and enjoyment of people. NMCAs create memorable experiences for visitors, promote awareness and understanding of marine ecosystems, and provide benefits for Indigenous peoples and coastal communities. Canada currently has five NMCAs comprising 123,490 square kilometres of marine and coastal areas in the Atlantic, Pacific and
Arctic oceans and the Great Lakes.

Other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) are areas that provide similar benefits to protected areas, but do not have conservation as their primary objective. Currently, the only OECMs that count toward Canada’s overall marine protection goals are marine refuges, which prohibit certain types of fishing activities to protect vulnerable species or features of the seafloor.

Other: Areas which do not meet the definition of an MPA, NMCA or OECM but still contribute meaningfully to marine conservation in Canada are included here. These areas include migratory bird sanctuaries, provincially managed marine parks, and terrestrial national parks that border marine areas.