Current Marine Protected Area Planning Activities

Marine Protected Areas or MPAs are established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) under the Oceans Act to protect and conserve important fish and marine mammal habitats, endangered marine species, unique features and areas of high biological productivity or biodiversity.  Canada has committed to establishing a Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy in our oceans to help meet a range of environmental and cultural conservation goals.

There are two areas in the Maritimes that are currently designated under Oceans Act Regulations, including the Gully MPA, a large marine canyon on the edge of the Scotian Shelf, and the Musquash Estuary, an important coastal habitat in the Bay of Fundy near Saint John, New Brunswick.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has selected St. Anns Bank Area of Interest, an area east of Cape Breton on the Eastern Scotian Shelf, as an Area of Interest for establishment as a Marine Protected Area under the Oceans Act.

The selection of an Area of Interest marks the beginning of the Marine Protected Area establishment process, which is led by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The process includes completing detailed ecological and socioeconomic assessments, setting conservation objectives, determining boundaries and management measures, and eventually developing the regulations under the Oceans Act.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is also leading the development and implementation of a national network of marine protected areas in partnership with Parks Canada, Environment Canada, and the provinces and territories. As part of this network, DFO Maritimes Region is leading the development of an MPA network within the Scotian Shelf Bioregion in collaboration with its federal partners and the Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.