Canada's Marine Protected Areas

Status, effectiveness and recommendations

  • Mikala Marie Wheeler Champlain
Keywords: Marine protection, marine protected area, Canadian environmental policy, Aichi Target 11


Protection of marine ecosystems and resources has evolved into one of the largest, and arguably most crucial, social and ecological debates of the thwenty-first century. Following the Aichi Target 11, adopted in 2010 by several countries, Canada has been striving for a very aggressive timeline to increase the proportion of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in national waters. The current state of MPAs in Canada have been deemed less effective than required to maximize the ecological, social and economic benefits that have been proven to be a result of well-planned and managed areas. We propose five shortcomings which are thought to contribute to the inefficiency current state.  These shortcomings are (1) MPAs that by virtue of their small size or poor design are ecologically insufficient; (2) MPAs that fail due to the degradation of the unprotected surrounding ecosystems; (3) inappropriately planned or managed MPAs; (4) MPAs that do more harm than good due to displacement and unintended consequences of management; and (5) MPAs that create a dangerous illusion of protection when in fact no protection is occurring.  As such, superior methods of design, management and evaluation must be implemented to address each of these shortcomings.  This series will discuss the status, challenges and opportunities that are faced in confronting each of the issues in optimizing the effectiveness of Canadas MPAs.