Canada: Proposed amendment to federal oceans law could afford some short-term protection to MPAs

When the final boundaries of the new Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area were announced in May, environmentalists were dismayed to learn that 98 percent of the protected area, off the southwest coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, would still be open to oil and gas extraction. It hardly seemed like protection. They were also underwhelmed that so far less than one percent of Canada’s territorial waters have been set aside as marine protected areas (MPAs), raising concerns that the government would fall short of its goal to protect 10 percent by 2020.

But now, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has proposed an amendment to the federal Oceans Act that would give interim protection to proposed MPAs during the lengthy designation process, which takes seven years on average—largely due to protracted negotiations with industry.

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