Photo: April Bencz

Protecting coastal waters

Oceans are the Earth’s largest life-support system. They regulate climate, produce oxygen and provide food and livelihoods for billions of people. To survive and prosper, we need healthy oceans. The Foundation promotes marine protected areas, better laws and other strategies to protect Canada’s oceans and marine life biodiversity.

Canada borders three oceans and has the world’s longest coastline. Our marine environment defines us. More than 80 per cent of people in Canada strongly favour protecting marine areas and the life they support. But threats from oil and gas development, shipping traffic and underwater noise, unsustainable commercial and recreational fishing, open-net-pen fish farms, toxins and climate change continue to grow.

Where we are now

Canada has international commitments to protect 10 per cent of its oceans, but has protected less than two per cent. Although government announcements about proposed protections for Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic waters signal progress, the quality of proposed protection is uncertain. We want minimum protection standards for marine protected areas that prohibit activities such as oil and gas development that hinder conservation efforts.

We’re holding the federal government to account to meet targets and create quality marine protection that includes networks, ecological diversity and management based on ecosystem needs. We support signed agreements with First Nations and are calling for stronger provisions in the Oceans Act.

Get to know the ocean


Oceans cover 71 per cent of the Earth's surface and contain 97 per cent of its water.


Oceans have absorbed more than 90 per cent of emissions-trapped heat since the 1970s.


By 2050, plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish.

Get the 101 on Marine Protected Areas

Science and Learning Centre
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  • Underwater picture of a shoal of pink salmon. Photo: April Bencze

    Pink salmon. (Photo: April Bencze)

  • A pod of orcas with a lighthouse on a rock in the background

    (Photo: Center for Whale Research)

  • An orca's tail lifted out of the ocean with a tanker on the horizon

    Tanker traffic is one issue facing orca populations. (Photo: Center for Whale Research)