New marine refuges off the coasts of Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador

Backgrounder

On December 21, 2017, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced the establishment of seven new marine refuges that will contribute an additional 145,598km2 of protected ocean area to Canada’s coasts. This represents an additional 2.53% of protected ocean, bringing Canada’s current total to 7.75%.

There are five science-based criteria that conservation measures 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.

Many of the new marine refuges will help conserve sensitive seafloor habitat and species. Corals, sponges, and sea pens (feature-shaped corals), play an important role in marine biodiversity. They act as spawning and breeding grounds, nurseries and provide shelter to numerous aquatic species. Protecting areas of corals, sea pens and sponge concentrations may contribute to increasing species productivity and increasing abundance within and outside protected areas.

The new marine refuges off the coast of Nunavut will protect habitat important to Narwhal. As well, these refuges will protect species that are an important food source for Narwhal and other mammals that use these areas.

The new marine refuges announced today were created thanks to close collaboration with many partners and stakeholders.

December, 2017

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