February 24, 2021
Marine protected areas ("MPAs") are one of the mechanisms that are used to protect important marine biodiverstiy, life, and habitats. Managing the risks and impacts of human activity in MPAs, including from fishing, shipping, and oil and gas activities, is crucial to ensuring their sucess and the sustainability of ocean biodiversity.
Federally, MPAs often do not adequately consider or mitigate the impacts from shipping. These impacts can include operational and other discharges like sewage, grey water, and ballast water, as well as noise, air emissions, and ship strikes. As a result, there is a need for governments, industry, and environmental organizations and practitioners to better understand the complex legal and regulatory environment that already exists for shipping and navigation and for MPAs.
In an effort to begin addressing this critical gap in the management of MPAs in Canada, East Coast Environmental Law collaborated with WWF-Canada and West Coast Environmental Law to develop the Shipping in MPAs Toolkit. The toolkit includes a series of peer-reviewed literature synthesis reports about the impacts of shipping on marine birds, benthic and sea ice marine habitats, and cetaceans (whales), the available laws and regulations that can be used to reduce, mitigate, or eliminate those impacts, and two case studies for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The toolkit also includes an easy-to-use quick reference document. The full toolkit is hosted by WWF-Canada and can be found here.
If you want to learn more about the Canadian laws and regulations that deal with shipping impacts and create different types of MPAs, see Navigating The Law: Reducing Shipping Impacts In Marine Protected Areas. This report includes an overview of three primary laws for creating MPAs (the Oceans Act, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act, and the Canada WIldlife Act), an analysis of the available legal tools available under Canadian law to address shipping impacts (like under the Canada Shipping Act) and other mechanisms and tools available more broadly through international law and organizations.
To read the Atlantic case study conducted by East Coast Environmental Law staff lawyer, Mike Kofahl, see Reducing Impacts from Shipping in St. Anns Bank MPA: Atlantic Case Study. This case study explores the very real impacts that shipping has on the St. Anns Bank MPA, which is located off the eastern coast of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. It also identifies the ways that shipping impacts might be addressed in the MPA.