Nature Canada

Nature Canada report calls for protection of Lake Ontario’s Eastern Basin

Report develops case for new National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) feasibility study.

Unceded Algonquin Territory – Ottawa, ON June 16, 2022

Today, Nature Canada released a new report that urges the provincial and federal governments to work together to create new protected areas in the waters of the Great Lakes. The report’s key finding is that Lake Ontario, and the lower Great Lakes generally, are under-protected and are lacking freshwater conservation areas to safeguard biodiversity. However, as part of the federal initiative to protect 30 percent of land and freshwater by 2030, we have the opportunity to create new National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCAs) in the Great Lakes. 

Eastern Lake Ontario, the focus area of this report, is home to critical habitat for several species at risk including Deepwater Sculpin, Piping Plovers, and Blanding’s Turtles. Many species of fish, amphibians, and migratory birds rely on healthy waters for their survival. It is rare to have so much biodiversity in an urban region like the Lake Ontario basin. Creating an NMCA in Lake Ontario is an important step to safeguarding this biodiversity. 

The Great Lakes are an ecological gem for North America, but the Canadian waters of the lower Great Lakes have gone unprotected. “As the government charts the course to achieve the important targets of 30 percent of land and freshwater protection by 2030, now is the time to protect these incredible lakes for future generations,” said Gauri Sreenivasan, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Nature Canada. “Taking the first step of initiating the feasibility assessment, in consultation with Indigenous Peoples, is a concrete action the provincial and federal governments can take now to ensure these waters are protected forever.” 

The report’s key recommendation urges Parks Canada to work with the provincial government in Ontario to initiate a feasibility assessment in close consultation with Indigenous Peoples as the first substantive step in creating a new NMCA. Community groups in Lake Ontario and in Lake Erie have been advocating for years to have new NMCAs established in the waters they treasure to safeguard the biodiversity that thrives there. 

Map of the region covered by the report:

The full report is available here.

Nature Canada is Canada’s voice for nature. For 80 years, Nature Canada has helped protect over 110 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species. Today, Nature Canada represents a network of over 130,000 members and supporters and more than 1,000 nature organizations.


For more information contact: 

Scott Mullenix

Want to Help?

Canada’s wilderness is the world’s envy. It’s our duty to keep our true north strong and green.