On March 28, 2018, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced two new Areas of Interest (AOI), under the Oceans Act, and a proposed conservation area protected under the Fisheries Act, off the coast of Nova Scotia. This is an exciting announcement for many as it marks another step towards meeting Canada’s goal of reaching 10% of marine and coastal areas protected by 2020, in line with Aichi Target 11.
As of October 2017, the Government of Canada has proudly announced that they have exceeded their interim target of 5% by reaching 7.75% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas protected.
Included in that 7.75%:
- Other AOIs, which is the first step to becoming a marine protected area (MPA) but are not formally protected until they become an official MPA
- The Laurentian Channel, which allows for seismic surveys along with oil and gas drilling in approximately 80% of the MPA
Which begs the question, are we really protecting what we say we are protecting?
To answer that question, we need to learn a little bit more about Marine Protected Areas.
What is an MPA?
Canada has adopted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) definition of protected areas:
“A clearly defined geographical space recognized, dedicated, and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values”
But MPAs are not the only measure to conserve the marine environment. Critical habitat protected under the Species at Risk Act, National Historic Sites of Canada as part of Parks Canada, or Conservation Areas under the fisheries act are all examples of other types of conservation methods available to the Canadian Government. In fact, you can check out all the federal and provincial legislation related to marine conservation methods here.