Why Canada needs to say no to Oil and Gas Drilling in Marine Protected Areas

Stephen Hazell, Director of Conservation and Legal Counsel.

The federal government is committed to protecting at least 17 percent of terrestrial areas and inland water, and 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020. These measures of protection are crucial to conserve the important habitats of species at risk in our lands and waters. Protection of Canada’s natural places is a vital component of our culture, heritage, economy and our future, as well as of global importance in terms of biodiversity conservation and mitigating climate change.

Since 2015, Canada has made significant progress on marine protected areas and now protects nearly 8% of its oceans. Despite those advances, the federal government is still considering allowing oil, gas and mining in some marine protected areas.

Oil and gas drilling in marine protection areas?  Many, if not most, Canadians would ask: what’s up with that? Surely creating a ‘marine protected area’ means that oil, gas and mining projects are no longer permitted. Surely these important habitats cannot risk environmental catastrophes similar to the oil spill we recently saw off the coast of Newfoundland that released 250,000 litres of crude oil into the ocean.


The public controversy as to whether to allow of oil and gas drilling in protected areas led to the establishment of an expert panel on standards for marine protected areas. The good news is that the panel recommended strengthening ocean protections. The bad news? The government is under pressure from oil and gas interests to keep these protections weak.  Industry wants to see oil and gas drilling still allowed in some types of marine protected areas.

Fortunately for all nature lovers, there is something that can be done. It is not too late to strengthen the protection of important marine habitats and to ensure that marine wildlife species like the Endangered Leatherback Sea Turtle and beloved Atlantic Puffin continue to thrive.

Share our petition with your family and friends to raise awareness around the protection of marine areas today! If we raise our voices for nature in Canada today, we will be able to protect it for generations to come.


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