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National marine conservation area

Nature Canada / What we do / NatureVoice / Parks and Protected Areas / National marine conservation area

What is a National Marine Conservation Area?

National Marine Conservation Areas are marine areas managed for sustainable use and containing smaller zones of high protection. They include the seabed, the water above it and any species which occur there. They may also take in wetlands, estuaries, islands and other coastal lands.

National Marine Conservation Areas are protected from such activities as dumping, undersea mining, and oil and gas exploration and development.National Marine Conservation Areas are established to represent a marine region and to demonstrate how protection and conservation practices can be harmonized with resource use in marine ecosystems.

Marine Conservation at Nature Canada

In 1996, Nature Canada developed its Marine Conservation Program in recognition of the fact that marine ecosystems were as affected by human activity as terrestrial ecosystems. At that time, Canada’s National Parks Act was designed to guide conservation and protection only on land. So that year, Nature Canada began advocating for new legislation that would enable the creation of national marine conservation areas.  Over the next several years we met with federal government policy decision-makers, gave testimony at hearings, and conducted a public awareness campaign about marine conservation areas.

One of the earliest sites we identified as an ideal location for a protected area was Lake Superior. The Government of Canada announced the creation of a new national marine conservation area on the northern shore of Lake Superior in October 2007.

In 2000-01, Nature Canada staff personally worked with government policy makers to strengthen federal Bill C-10, “An Act respecting the the national marine conservation areas of Canada”, introduced in February 2001 (a similar bill died in the November 2000 election after extensive efforts by Nature Canada and our partners to improve it.) Nature Canada devoted countless hours toward getting the National Marine Conservation Areas Act passed in 2002.

In 2002 the Prime Minister announced a commitment to establish five new marine parks over the next five years. For three years leading up to this announcement, we worked directly with government leaders to allocate new resources to Parks Canada so they could fulfill their protection mandate. By the end of March 2003 we secured firm commitments for $219 million over five years and $54 million in ongoing funding after that.

We continue to push for more marine conservation areas. As a member of the Green Budget Coalition Nature Canada, together with 19 other environmental and conservation organizations, has called for the establishment of a national system of marine protected areas by 2012. This would result in 14 new national marine conservation areas, including Bowie Seamount of the north coast of British Columbia and Iquali qluug off Baffin Island in Nunavut.

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