© Shutterstock Shipping

Shipping in Marine Protected Areas

A toolkit for reducing shipping impacts in marine protected areas

Reducing shipping impacts in marine protected areas

Canada’s existing marine protections do not adequately consider or mitigate the impacts of shipping, leaving marine life to contend with a number of stressors, including underwater noise, ship strikes, and vessel discharges, even in areas designated as protected.

Together, WWF-Canada, West Coast Environmental Law and East Coast Environmental Law have produced a toolkit to share the impacts of shipping in marine protected areas (MPAs) and identify the tools that MPA practitioners and shipping experts can use to reduce those impacts in Canada.

© WWF-Canada / Chad Graham A Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flying above a cargo ship and boats in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada.

About MPAs

As marine habitats and wildlife face increasing pressures from human impacts like pollution, overfishing, and climate change, MPAs – those areas where human activities are more strictly regulated than in surrounding waters to ensure marine ecosystems remain healthy – are increasingly important. MPAs are one of the key mechanisms to provide strong protection for marine biodiversity and as such, the government of Canada has committed to protecting 30 per cent of Canadian marine and coastal areas by 2030. However, until we have strong measures for shipping and other human activities in marine protected areas, those protections won’t safeguard wildlife and the habitats they depend on.

What WWF-Canada and partners are doing

There are two main reasons why most MPAs in Canada have not adequately addressed the risks posed by shipping. The first is that the science around shipping impacts on the marine environment is growing, and the second is that many practitioners require a better understanding of the complex legal and regulatory environment that exists for shipping in Canada.

To address these barriers, we have commissioned and conducted a number of reports which are included in this toolkit. From documenting the impacts of shipping on wildlife and habitats to outlining the legal framework for shipping in MPAs and analyzing the opportunities for using existing legal tools to reduce shipping impacts, to studying case studies on reducing shipping impacts in MPAs, the full reports and a quick reference guide are available in the toolkit below.

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