It hardly seemed like protection. They were also underwhelmed that so far less than one percent of Canada’s territorial waters have been set aside as marine protected areas (MPAs), raising concerns that the government would fall short of its goal to protect 10 percent by 2020.
But now, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has proposed an amendment to the federal Oceans Act that would give interim protection to proposed MPAs during the lengthy designation process, which takes seven years on average—largely due to protracted negotiations with industry. On top of that, the proposed policy would force DFO to complete the approval process within five years. If the assessment process takes longer than this, the area will automatically defer to being protected says Jeff MacDonald, director general of oceans management at DFO.
If passed, the amendment would effectively create the protected areas immediately, possibly allowing Canada to meet its 2020 target.
Photo: Kyle Flood/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)