Canada reinforces its leadership on marine conservation targets during the Our Oceans Conference in Malta

News Release

Ottawa, Ontario – Resilient and healthy ecosystems help support sustainable industries, local economies and coastal communities across Canada and around the world. That is why the discussion at this year’s Our Ocean Conference was focused on how to identify solutions and commit to new, significant and impactful actions to address the global challenges of our oceans. 

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard led a Canadian delegation to the international conference, which is taking place October 5 and 6 in Malta. The conference focused on: how best to establish meaningful marine protection, both through marine protected areas (MPAs) and other measures; the benefits of promoting sustainable fisheries; identifying and mitigating climate-related impacts on oceans; and growing the Blue Economy.

Minister LeBlanc reiterated Canada’s commitment to the international target of protecting 10% of our marine and coastal areas by 2020, and discussed Canada’s progress toward meeting our domestic target of protect 5% by the end of 2017.

Minister LeBlanc also highlighted the leadership role Canada is taking internationally on marine conservation and protection, particularly on the development of scientific criteria for other effective area-based conservation measures. Canada welcomes the use of these rigorous criteria by other coastal nations in their efforts to achieve marine conservation goals. He also mentioned that Canada will be hosting a scientific workshop on international criteria for other measures this winter.

Minister LeBlanc also announced that Canada will establish a national advisory panel that will provide the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard with advice on minimum standards within future MPAs in Canada’s waters. He reiterated that, working with Indigenous and Northern partners, Canada will support and protect the future of the “last ice area” in the Arctic Ocean, where summer ice remains year round.   


“Oceans are significant to our heritage, culture and economy, and our government is committed to meaningful marine conservation measures that will benefit both the environment and coastal communities. I am thrilled to lead our delegation at the Our Ocean Conference, representing Canada on the world stage. We continue to be an international leader on protecting our marine resources for future generations.”   

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

Quick Facts

  • Canada’s total of protected marine and coastal areas is 3.63%

  • Since last year’s Our Ocean Conference in September 2016, the progress to achieve Canada’s marine conservation targets is proof that Canada is well underway to reaching its targets:

    • Three new Marine Protected Areas have been designated in the last year: the Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam in the Beaufort Sea, created in collaboration with the Inuvialuit and other partners; Hecate Strait Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs MPA, which provides protection for globally-unique glass sponge reefs that are thousands of years old; and the St. Ann’s Bank MPA just off Cape Breton, which is home to many endangered species such as the Atlantic wolffish and the Leatherback Turtle.
    • A new large Area of Interest (AOI) was identified off the coast of British Columbia, representing approximately 140,000 km2 of ocean space. This identification is the first step toward providing protection to ecologically and biologically significant areas, including underwater seamounts and a ridge of hydrothermal vents.
    • Canada has established stringent criteria recognizing certain fisheries management measures that provide the necessary marine refuge for fish, mammals and their habitat and has already identified existing measures that contribute to Canada’s marine conservation targets.
    • Canada continues to work with international counterparts to advance criteria that will be used by coastal countries who share our conservation goals.
    • Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act, is currently before Parliament. This legislation would speed up the designation process for MPAs without sacrificing science or the public’s opportunity to provide input.

Associated Links


Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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



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