New Canadian marine protected areas not totally closed to fishing

Canada’s government has initiated the designation process for three new marine conversation areas, according to a March announcement. This proposed action is part of a commitment to put 10 percent of Canadian marine and coastal areas under protected status by 2020.

The new areas of interest are the 2,000-square-kilometers encompassing the Eastern Shore Islands, a 7,100-square-kilometer portion of the Fundian Channel-Browns Bank, and the 36,000-square-kilometer Eastern Canyons section off Sable Island, all located off the coast of Nova Scotia.

According to Stephen Bornais, a communications advisor with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the protected status doesn’t mean that each marine protected area (MPA) is totally off-limits to fishing. 

“Each MPA also has zones defined within its boundary. These zones define allowable activities within these defined areas, including for commercial fisheries,” Bornais said. “For example, the Gully MPA has three zones, with Zone 1 representing an area of only scientific research (no extraction) and zones 2 and 3 allowing selected fisheries, in this case halibut and large pelagic fishing.”

While fishing may still be allowed, consultations have to take place to determine what can take place in each zone of each site, Bornais  added.

“Each activity will be assessed against the conservation objectives for each of the sites – this then informs discussion with industry and management decisions around the extent and continuation of existing activities,” he said. “There is no comprehensive list of ‘allowed’ or ‘prohibited’ activities for MPAs in Canada – they are all unique.”


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