© Shutterstock Tide rolling on to the beach

Ocean

The Ocean is in a state of crisis caused by overfishing, poor management and climate change. Thankfully, it’s not too late to return the ocean to a healthier state.

Healthy Ocean, Healthy Communities.

Canada has the world’s longest coastline — bordering the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans — and one of the largest ocean bodies of any country in the world. The ocean feeds us, regulates our climate, cleans the water we drink, provides us with medicine and fill us with inspiration.

The ocean produces more than half of the oxygen that sustains life on the planet. Its ability to absorb carbon dioxide helps protect all life from the harsh impacts of climate change. The ocean is also the main source of protein for about one billion people around the world. In fact, more than 200 million people fish for a living.

Meet Our Experts

    Photo-of-Sigrid-Kuehnemund-WWF

    Sigrid Kuehnemund

    Vice President, Wildlife and Industry

    Sigrid Kuehnemund

    Vice President, Wildlife and Industry

    Based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Sigrid leads WWF-Canada’s Wildlife and Industry Team, which aims to reduce or eliminate the direct threat from industrial activities to wildlife habitat viability and carbon storage capabilities in Canada. The approach is solutions-oriented towards ecologically responsible and sustainable development within the fishing, mining, energy, and shipping sectors. She advances conservation initiatives at local, national and global scales through advocacy and partnerships with fellow environmental NGOs, industry, government, scientists, Indigenous groups and local communities. Sigrid has helped secure minimum standards for Marine Protected Areas in Canada, developed a ‘Food for All’ national forage fish initiative, and has led WWF-Canada’s successful campaign against oil and gas in the Laurentian Channel.

    Photo-of-Hussein-Alidina-WWF

    Hussein Alidina

    Lead Specialist, Marine Conservation

    Hussein Alidina

    Lead Specialist, Marine Conservation

    Hussein has worked on marine conservation initiatives in Canada and abroad. Now in Canada’s Pacific, He implements WWF’s conservation partnership with the Gitga’at Nation and works with partners to reduce the impacts of shipping on whales and advance marine protected areas. Hussein holds degrees in Environment & Resource Science and Marine Management.

    Photo-of-Aurlie-Cosandey-Godin-WWF

    Aurelie Cosandey-Godin

    Senior Specialist, Marine Ecosystems and Sustainable Shipping

    Aurelie Cosandey-Godin

    Senior Specialist, Marine Ecosystems and Sustainable Shipping

    Aurelie contributes to marine planning and our work on marine protected areas, exploring opportunities to expand our sustainable shipping work on the east coast while identifying policy and solutions to address shipping impacts on marine ecosystems. She holds a PhD in marine conservation science from Dalhousie University.

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© Kevin McNamee / WWF-Canada Moresby Island, British Columbia, Canada

The Ocean is in Crisis

Centuries of overuse and neglect threaten to leave us with a vast blue wasteland. It’s time to change how we see the ocean from a place where we take what we want and dump what we don’t, to a shared resource of immense value and fragility.

Once considered an inexhaustible source of food, the ocean is now in a state of global crisis caused by overfishing, poor management and a changing climate. Over the past 50 years, many large ocean fish such as bluefin tuna, cod and sharks have been fished to the point of collapse. Today, about 80 per cent of the world’s fish stocks are fully exploited, overexploited or depleted.

Bycatch, which is the unintended capture of certain species, is one of the biggest problems in fishing. Every day, millions of non-target fish are caught and die. Each year, more than 250,000 marine turtles, 300,000 cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and thousands of endangered sharks are trapped in commercial fishing gear.

Other demands on the ocean are accelerating. Shipping, tourism, oil and gas, renewable energy and the increase of coastal development — all of these take a toll on ocean habitats and species. What’s more, climate change is changing ocean temperatures and causing the ocean to become more acidic. We urgently need smart ocean management plans that will protect important ecosystems and keep the ocean healthy.

What WWF-Canada is Doing

The ocean is becoming more crowded. As ship traffic and other industrial activities increase, whales and other marine life are losing the habitat and quiet they need to survive. It’s not too late to bring the ocean back to a state of health and resilience. We are working to change the tide, driving protection and sustainable management so the ocean can have a vibrant future. WWF-Canada is advocating for protection in priority regions and working with industry on lasting solutions.

© Helen Jones / WWF-Canada Moored fishing boats in Newfoundland

Increasing Sustainable Fishing

It’s easy to imagine that the ocean is a bottomless source of food. But the truth is that fish are in trouble. Overfishing is the single biggest threat to the ocean. One billion people rely on fish as a primary source of protein, and to meet that need we are fishing at a rate that the ocean can’t sustain. WWF-Canada has partnered with fisheries on sustainable practices so marine ecosystems and coastal livelihoods can thrive.

© Stephanie Nicholl / WWF-Canada Capelin in Newfoundland

Safeguarding Forage Fish

Forage fish — small fish like capelin, herring and mackerel that feed larger fish, seabirds, whales and seals — are in trouble. Many forage fish populations are in decline, threatening the health of marine ecosystems. WWF-Canada is working to make sure forage fish are valued for the vital role they play and managed sustainably so they can continue to support ocean health.

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© DFO Dolphins in the Gully

Advocating for Marine Protected Areas

WWF-Canada believes a healthy ocean depends on a network of marine protected areas (MPAs), which account for ocean currents, species migration and other ecological connections. We are working in partnership with other groups to advocate for MPAs. WWF is also pushing for stronger conservation standards, including better management and fewer industrial activities — such as oil and gas extraction and mining — within MPA boundaries.

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© Frank Parhizgar / WWF-Canada

Improving Shipping Practices

With marine traffic on the rise, we need to embrace sustainable shipping solutions now more than ever. WWF-Canada is working with partners to better understand the risks posed by shipping. We are finding ways to mitigate those risks and advocating for low-impact shipping practices in the ocean.

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© Lee Narraway / WWF-Canada

Restoring Coastal Habitat

In 2017, WWF-Canada began a large-scale habitat restoration project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Through the Coastal Restoration Fund, the Fisheries and Oceans Canada supports WWF-Canada in monitoring and restoring coastal and riverine fish habitats. We are advocating for an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management using traditional knowledge, scientific research and citizen science.

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© Shutterstock Shipping

Understanding the impact of shipping in MPAs

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are one of the key mechanisms that provide strong protection for marine biodiversity in Canada. WWF-Canada and its partners have worked together to provide a comprehensive toolkit which outlines ways to help safeguard wildlife and habitat and reduce shipping’s impacts in MPAs.

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What You Can Do

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Adopt an Orca

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Testing Freshwater

Generation Water Technology Challenge

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Shoreline Cleanup Participants

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

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