The announcement was made by the Department of Fisheries & Oceans Canada at the Nature Champions Summit in Montreal. According to environmental campaign group Ocean Unite, it represents “a significant milestone” in improving Canada’s commitment to marine protection.
In announcing the move, the government stated that establishing a high standard of protection was more important than designation itself.
Along with MPAs, it said that it was establishing a second tier of protection in the form of “marine refuges” in which oil and gas activity might continue, but that these areas would not count towards its overall targets for protection.
Canada also announced the formal designation as an MPA of the 4500 sq mile Laurentian Channel, an underwater valley between Cape Breton and Newfoundland in the Gulf of St Lawrence. This becomes Canada’s biggest Atlantic MPA, bringing the proportion of the nation’s marine and coastal environment that is protected to 8.27%.
The government said that it was ahead of schedule in meeting its 10% protection goal for 2020. Further announcements were expected this summer.