New Canadian minimum standards for marine protected areas are an important step in reversing wildlife loss

WWF-Canada welcomes announcement and commits to support further actions to prohibit harmful ship discharges

VANCOUVER, February 9, 2023 – WWF-Canada applauds yesterday’s announcement of long-awaited minimum standards for federal marine protected areas (MPAs), made by the federal government, as an important step forward in safeguarding the ocean’s most sensitive regions.

The new Marine Protected Areas Protection Standard provides much-needed clarity and consistency on what activities are and aren’t allowed within MPAs. This means oil and gas activities, bottom trawling and mining is prohibited in all MPAs designated since the Government of Canada made a commitment to establish minimum protection standards in 2019.

After more than 22,000 people joined WWF-Canada’s call for a comprehensive definition of dumping in protected ocean areas, we are pleased to see the new MPA Protection Standard includes proposed restrictions on greywater, scrubber washwater, sewage, food waste and bilge water discharges in both new and existing MPAs.

This significantly expands current vessel discharge restrictions, but it’s only mandatory in Canada’s territorial sea (up to 12 nautical miles from shore) due to international shipping regulations, leaving approximately 75 per cent — or 602,000 square kilometres — of Canada’s MPAs open harmful ship waste.

The new policy is, however, calling for voluntary compliance in our Exclusive Economic Zone (12 to 200 nautical miles from shore) and, in the future, Canada can propose mandatory restrictions for protected ocean areas through the International Maritime Organization. Operational waste from ships poses a serious threat to endangered species and fragile marine ecosystems and is not compatible with the goals of marine protection.

WWF-Canada looks forward to continuing to engage with government, Indigenous Peoples, industry and interested members of the public to ensure Canada’s MPAs benefit from the highest possible level of protection.

Megan Leslie, WWF-Canada’s president and CEO, says:

“We know Canadians want high quality protections for oceans, and with the longest coastline in the world, Canada also has a global responsibility to lead the way. The new MPA Protection Standard is an excellent step in ensuring protected areas live up to their name. This announcement is especially important as Canada ramps up the designation of new MPAs over the next two years. We look forward to working together with the Government of Canada to ensure the highest possible standards for those new protected areas.”


For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Emily Vandermeer, communications specialist, WWF-Canada, [email protected]


About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada is committed to equitable and effective conservation actions that restore nature, reverse wildlife loss and fight climate change. We draw on scientific analysis and Indigenous guidance to ensure all our efforts connect to a single goal: a future where wildlife, nature and people thrive. For more information visit