New Marine Refuges in Canada’s Atlantic Ocean

Resilient and healthy ecosystems help to support sustainable industries, local economies and coastal communities across Canada. Canada remains committed to increasing the proportion of our marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% this year and 10% by 2020. These marine conservation targets will be achieved by establishing marine protected areas and marine refuges to safeguard the health of our oceans for future generations.

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, today announced the two marine refuges through fisheries management measures. These will protect fish and their aquatic ecosystems and contribute an additional 11,787km2 of protected ocean area to Canada’s coasts.

These marine refuges will make a lasting contribution to marine conservation in Canada:

  • New Brunswick – The existing Miramichi Bay gillnet fisheries closure protects adult Atlantic salmon and one of its important migration corridors. This closure has been in place for many years and prohibits the use of gillnets for all commercial groundfish fisheries.
  • Nova Scotia – The Western/Emerald Banks Conservation Area supports the productivity of groundfish, particularly as a long-standing nursery ground for haddock. All commercial and recreational fisheries using bottom-contact gear and gear known to interact with groundfish are prohibited in the majority of the closure.

Marine Refuge in Canada

There are five science-based criteria that conservation measures such as the ones being announced today must meet in order to contribute to Canada’s marine conservation targets: the geographic location must be clearly defined; the stock management or conservation objective needs to directly relate to an important species or habitat; the area must contain an important species and important habitat; the measure must be long-term; and the measure needs to protect the important species and its habitat from both existing and foreseeable pressures.

The marine refuges announced today meet the stringent criteria required to count toward Canada’s marine conservation targets. Other fisheries management measures will continue to be evaluated and may contribute to Canada’s conservation targets as well.

Canada will continue to work at the international level on identifying guidelines and a process for considering other effective area-based conservation measures like fisheries area closures. In February 2018, Canada will host an international technical expert workshop as part of this process.