Canada agrees: No more industrial activities in marine protected areas

Environmental lawyers welcome government’s commitment to better ocean protection

VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – Lawyers at West Coast Environmental Law are celebrating today’s announcement that the federal government will exclude oil and gas development, bottom trawl fishing, mining and dumping in all of Canada’s marine protected areas (MPAs), adopting the recommendations of the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards.

These new rules will apply to the newly designated Laurentian Channel MPA on the Atlantic coast, also announced today.

“We’re delighted to see the government recognize that MPAs and industrial activities don’t mix,” said Stephanie Hewson, Staff Lawyer at West Coast Environmental Law. “We have spent years advocating for strong legal protection for MPAs because we know that it’s essential for restoring the health of the ocean.”

The announcement comes nearly two years after an MPA was first proposed in Laurentian Channel, which would have allowed oil and gas development within 88% of the MPA. Following public outcry, the government struck the National Advisory Panel to provide guidance on protection standards for MPAs. Now, oil and gas activity will be prohibited in this unique marine ecosystem.

The Panel released its final report in October 2018, which included a recommendation to exclude industrial activities within all of Canada’s MPAs.

Today’s announcement is another step in Canada’s progress towards the global goal of protecting 10% of the ocean by 2020. While other types of conserved areas, such as marine refuges, will not be protected from the same activities as MPAs, marine refuges with active oil and gas development will no longer be counted toward the target.

“Today’s announcement confirms what Canadians already know – industrial activities do not belong in MPAs. We look forward to the government’s next steps, which must include formalizing these protection standards in law,” said Hewson.


For more information, please contact:

Stephanie Hewson | Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law
604-684-7378 ext. 231,

Additional resources:

Stress-Free Seas - WCEL Submission to the National Advisory Panel on MPA Standards

Linking Science and Law: Minimum Protection Standards for Canada’s MPAs

Oceans20: Canada’s Oceans Act Workshop Report