Dare to be Deep: Protect Canada’s Ocean

While Canada boasts one of the largest ocean territories in the world, only 1.3% of it is protected through meaningful long-term conservation measures. The federal government has committed to establishing networks of marine protected areas covering at least 10% of our oceans by 2020. Progress by all of our governments on creating new marine protected areas needs to speed up if we are going to meet that commitment.

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Dare to be Deep: Protect Canada's ocean!
Dare to be Deep: Protect Canada's ocean!

Over 16,000 people have signed on in support of marine protection in Canada. Add your voice to support advancing marine conservation through the establishment of a network of marine protected areas!

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CPAWS has identified a number of marine areas that are excellent candidates for protection. These are amazing places that nurture fish stocks and shelter endangered species like Right and Blue whales, tufted puffins and leatherback turtles. As they’re critical to conserve for the future of our planet, it is more important that ever that the federal government moves forward with its network planning. 

Proposed Protected Areas (view on map)

The place Why is it important? Why is it threatened?

Hecate Strait, BC, Pacific Ocean

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Described as “living fossils”, these 9000-year-old reefs are the only sizable glass sponge reefs left on earth!

Over 50% of these reefs were destroyed by bottom trawling before the practice was banned. However, trawling currently takes place all around the reefs and threatens to smother them with sediments that are stirred up from the seafloor.

Scott Islands, BC, Pacific Ocean

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Internationally recognized as a globally significant bird area and are known to be the most important breeding ground for seabirds in BC. The nutrient rich waters around the islands remain unprotected, leaving seabirds vulnerable to oil pollution, competition with commercial fisheries for food and being caught as bycatch in longline fisheries.

Southern Strait of Georgia, BC, Pacific Ocean

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Home to the endangered southern resident Orcas and “old growth” rockfish which live for over 100 years in the swaying fronds of kelp forests. The ecosystems within the strait are severely threatened by overfishing, pollution and climate change.

Big Eddy, BC, Pacific Ocean

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Teaming with life, The Big Eddy supports large populations of orcas, sea otters, seabirds, rockfish and salmon, as well as diverse cold-water coral communities.

Human use of this area, particularly major international shipping and commercial fishing is causing harm. For example, bottom trawling is affecting important benthic habitats, including coral forests. 

Lancaster Sound, NU, Arctic Ocean

One of the most biologically productive marine areas in the Arctic. The largest Arctic polynya provides open water year round and ice edge habitats that are critical for seabirds, sea ducks and many marine mammals.



Melting sea ice is leading to increased interest in accessing Arctic resources. Many areas of the Arctic are being eyed for commercial fishing, increased shipping, and offshore oil and gas opportunities.




Read full report by Qikiqtani Inuit Assocation's (QIA)

Tawich, QC, James Bay, Arctic Ocean

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One of the last intact seas of the world. The diverse subarctic ecosystems of this area of James Bay are home to amazing biodiversity. Tawich is not yet a marine protected area.

Gaspésie, QC, Atlantic Ocean

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These waters shelter several imperiled species such as Leatherback Turtles and Atlantic Wolffish, and are an important summer foraging ground for the Blue Whale, the largest animal on Earth. The ecological health of this exceptional marine area is being threatened by activities including increased maritime transport, urbanization, pollution, and resource extraction

Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC, Atlantic Ocean

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The islands offer a stunning diversity of ecosystems. Important populations of Roseate Tern and Piping Plovers nest in this region, as do species seldom found at this latitude such as American Oyster. Several offshore oil and gas projects are currently being considered, which have the potential to compromise sustainable fisheries and tourism industries. Tourism must be carefully managed to protect fragile ecosystems.

South Coast Fjords, NL, Atlantic Ocean

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From low sandy beaches to the west and immense granite cliffs and deep fjords to the east, this is the largest, undeveloped alpine coastline in Canada.

The Fjords are vulnerable to petroleum exploration and overfishing.

Laurentian Channel, NL, Atlantic Ocean

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The channel contains the highest levels of diversity off of the shores of Newfoundland.  The area supports the largest concentration of black dogfish in Canada, and is the only location where pupping occurs. 

Threats from offshore oil and gas development as well as from shipping, including accidental oil spills and illegal bilge dumping need to be minimized in order to protect the ecologically significant habitats in the Laurentian Channel.

St Anns Bank, NS, Atlantic Ocean

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A key migration route for fish and marine mammals, and home to cold-water corals and sponges.It provides important habitat for at-risk species like Atlantic wolffish and Atlantic cod. There is considerable shipping activity through this area, both local traffic and ships traveling to and from the St. Lawrence River.

Bay of Fundy, NS and NB, Atlantic Ocean

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Only a few horse mussel reefs are known to exist in the world and the Bay of Fundy reefs are the largest yet to be documented. The Bay is becoming increasingly industrialized, with proposals for thousands of tidal turbines, large open-net salmon aquaculture sites and coastal mega-quarries.



Science Based Guidelines for Marine Protected Area (2011)
Commssioned by CPAWS and released in May 2011, these science-based guidelines were developed to inform the design and implementation of effective networks of MPAs throughout Canada’s oceans. Read the full report, summary, press release and more.

Dare to be Deep – 2010 CPAWS Event Tour (2010)
Attracting hundreds of people nationwide, CPAWS' Fall 2010 Dare to be Deep tour showcased the success of Gwaii Haanas and the importance of marine protected areas.
See photos, videos and more from the tour.

CPAWS in the news

See more at delicious.com


Oceans Report: Dare to be Deep: Charting Canada’s Course to 2020 (2014)

The ocean supports a tremendous diversity of life from coastal areas to the deep sea, and contains 99% of the space available for life on Earth. From plankton to whales, marine species live in a delicate balance that can easily be disturbed by human activities, and cause a domino effect on species half-way around the world.

Canadian Wilderness Fall 2013 (2013)

This issue of Canadian Wilderness commemorates what CPAWS has accomplished in its first half century. It profiles some of the leaders who have built our organization over those 50 years and some of the staff and volunteers who carry on that tradition today.

Final report on oceans protection progress: How deep did Canada dare? (2012)

Report on oceans conservation finds Canada has made limited gains in protecting our coastal waters, with the federal government and other levels moving at too slow a pace to meet the challenge issued by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) to protect 12 special marine areas by December 2012.

Oceans Report 2012 (2012)

Is Canada on track to create 12 new marine protected areas by December 2012? Read the news release.

Science-based Guidelines for Marine Protected Areas and MPA Networks in Canada: Quick Reference (2011)

A quick overview of the Science-based Guidelines for Marine Protected Areas and MPA Networks in Canada

View more publications

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