National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCAs) is a Parks Canada programme responsible for marine areas managed for sustainability and containing smaller zones of high protection. They include the seabed, the water itself and any species which occur there. They may also include wetlands, estuaries, islands and other coastal lands. They are protected from dumping, undersea mining and oil and gas exploration and development, which may damage the aquatic or terrestrial ecosystems in the conservation area. However, not all commercial activities are prohibited in these zones. Shipping, commercial and sport fishing, and recreational activities are allowed.
In 1996, Nature Canada developed its Marine Conservation Program in recognition 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[who?] met with federal government policy decision-makers, gave testimony at hearings, and conducted a public awareness campaign about marine conservation areas.
As of 2020[update], established NMCAs and NMCA Reserves protect 14,846 km2 (5,732 sq mi) of waters, wetlands, and coastlines, representing five of the 29 identified marine regions with studies underway for protected areas in three additional regions.
|Name||Photo||Location||Established||Area (2017)||Marine region||Description|
|Fathom Five †|| Ontario
||20 July 1987||114 km2 (44 sq mi)||Georgian Bay||The marine counterpart to Bruce National Park, Fathom Five is named for a line in Shakespeare's The Tempest. The first marine unit in the national parks system preserves a unique aquatic environment and several small islands including Flowerpot Island. The unusually clear waters and numerous shipwrecks on the shoals of Georgian Bay make the park a popular destination for scuba divers.: 189|
| British Columbia
||11 June 2010||1,500 km2 (579 sq mi)||Hecate Strait, Queen Charlotte Shelf||Along with the national park reserve of the same name, Gwaii Haanas protects an area extending from the ocean floor of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Basin to the mountains of the Haida Gwaii. The marine reserve preserves the Haida people's traditional use of the waters while protecting the area from oil exploration and commercial fishing.: 299|
|Lake Superior|| Ontario
||1 September 2015||10,880 km2 (4,201 sq mi)||Lake Superior||Adjacent to the United States' Isle Royale National Park and several Ontario provincial parks, Lake Superior NMCA forms part of the world's largest freshwater reserve.|
|Saguenay–St. Lawrence †|| Quebec
||8 June 1998||1,245 km2 (481 sq mi)||St. Lawrence Estuary||Located at the confluence of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence rivers and adjacent to Quebec's Saguenay Fjord National Park, Saguenay–St. Lawrence protects a portion of the St. Lawrence estuary, a common feeding ground for marine mammals such as the endangered St. Lawrence beluga whale.|
|Study area||Location||Area||Marine region|
|Magdalen Islands|| Quebec
||16,500 km2 (6,371 sq mi)||Magdalen shallows|
|Southern Strait of Georgia
| British Columbia
||1,400 km2 (541 sq mi)||Strait of Georgia|
|Tallurutiup Imanga|| Nunavut
||109,000 km2 (42,085 sq mi)||Lancaster Sound|