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New Protections Will Prevent Fossil Fuel Activity in Canada’s Marine Protected Areas

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Some marine protected areas are designated to protect a single species.

Canada released new standards for marine protected areas on Thursday, prohibiting fossil fuel activity, mining, waste-dumping, and bottom-trawling.

The new standards extend protection to larger swaths of Canadian marine areas, including the new Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area off the south coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2017, proposed regulations would have permitted such fossil fuel activities in 80 percent of the channel, but the proposal was met with significant public outcry.

The change also incorporates the recommendations of an advisory panel set up by the government last year, and will align Canada with international standards set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Impacts and Limitations

Until now, there have been no overarching protections, so industrial activities were permitted on a case-by-case basis.

Canada had previously committed to protecting 10 percent of the country’s marine and coastal areas by 2020. Now, with the newly protected 11,600-square-kilometer Laurentian area under protection, Canada is protecting 8.27 percent of its marine and coastal areas, according to the Canadian Press.

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