Government of Canada designates Big Glace Bay Lake as the newest National Wildlife Area

News release

View of the sunset over the lake inland from the rocky shores. Photo: Garry Donaldson
Sunset over Big Glace Bay Lake National Wildlife Area

July 21, 2022 – Sydney, Nova Scotia

Biodiversity loss is threatening the foundations of our economy, food security, health, and quality of life. Canada’s network of protected areas plays a vital role in conserving and restoring healthy, resilient ecosystems, which helps halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and contributes to the recovery of species at risk. That is why the Government of Canada is taking action to restore and protect natural areas in Nova Scotia.

Today, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced that the Government of Canada has designated Big Glace Bay Lake as Canada’s newest National Wildlife Area.

The newly designated National Wildlife Area (NWA) in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, comprises 392 hectares of estuary and marsh waters enclosed by a barrier beach. The site also includes mixed woodland, shallow coastal water, and eelgrass flats and encompasses the Big Glace Bay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) plus an additional 14 hectares.

The NWA designation will help conserve the landscape to protect species at risk, including the Piping Plover, American Black Duck, Canada Goose, Common Goldeneye, and Bufflehead. The NWA designation will also support the management of wildlife conservation, research, and interpretation.

The Government of Canada will continue to expand its protected areas network, address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, and meet its commitments to conserve 25 percent of lands and inland waters in Canada by 2025, and work toward 30 percent of each by 2030.


“Expanding conserved and protected areas is one of the most important actions we can take to curb the ongoing loss of nature and biodiversity. These places not only hold deep meaning for Canadians, they connect landscapes, store carbon, build knowledge and understanding, and inspire people to connect with nature in respectful and sustainable ways.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“Big Glace Bay Lake is a fixture in our community and I’m pleased that it’s being designated as Canada’s newest National Wildlife Area. It means increased protection for migratory birds and species at risk, and long-term conservation for the land and inland waters. Cape Bretoners and visitors can continue to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. It’s a win-win-win situation.”
– MP Mike Kelloway, Cape Breton–Canso, Nova Scotia, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts

  • Big Glace Bay Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary was established in 1939 and provides safe fall migration habitat for several key bird species, including the Canada Goose.

  • As a National Wildlife Area, Big Glace Bay Lake will remain open to the public and visitors. The regulations allow most of the activities that currently occur at the Migratory Bird Sanctuary site to continue.

  • To ensure consistency with the activities allowed in most other NWAs in Canada, camping, lighting or maintaining a fire, and the possession of lead fishing tackle under 50 grams are not permitted.

Associated links


Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

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