New Marine Refuges in Canada’s Atlantic Ocean 

News Release

Ottawa, Ontario – 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.

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.


“As Canadians, we are fortunate to be bounded by three oceans, which are significant to our heritage, culture and economy—but this fortune brings with it the responsibility to protect our precious marine resources. That’s why our government is committed to protecting five percent of our marine and coastal areas by this year, and ten percent by 2020. Today’s announcement of two marine refuges is another step toward this goal of protecting our oceans for future generations.” 

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard


Quick Facts

  • Today’s announcement brings Canada’s total of protected marine and coastal areas to 3.63%. 

  • Canada’s operational guidance for identifying marine “other measures” is based on recommendations provided through Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS).

  • Emerging guidance from the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Other Effective Conservation Measures Task Force has also been considered.

  • Canada developed these criteria in advance of final international guidance, expected in 2018, in order to address its 2017 domestic target.

  • Canada will host an international technical expert workshop in February 2018 at which delegates will discuss the contribution and effectiveness of MPAs and “other measures” as well as the definition and identification of “other measures” for marine and coastal areas.

Associated Links


Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Laura Gareau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada



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