National marine conservation areas

Protecting and conserving representative marine areas for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people of Canada and the world.



About national marine conservation areas

There are currently 5 national marine conservation areas (NMCAs) in Canada. They represent 6 of the 29 marine regions identified in the NMCA system plan, and protect approximately 123,490 square kilometers of Canada’s marine and freshwater ecosystems in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic oceans and the Great Lakes. In 2021 Parks Canada committed to establishing 10 new marine and four new freshwater NMCAs in the next five years, working with Indigenous communities on co-management agreements for these NMCAs.

NMCAs are part of a growing worldwide network of marine protected areas. The Government of Canada is committed to contributing to global conservation targets by protecting biodiversity and conserving 25% of marine and coastal areas by 2025, working toward 30% by 2030. Parks Canada has contributed 2.12% to Canada’s current total of over 14% marine protection.

NMCAs include submerged lands, the water above them, and any species found there. They can also take in wetlands, estuaries, islands and other coastal lands.

NMCAs are established and managed to protect and conserve representative marine areas for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people of Canada and the world.

NMCAs create enjoyable experiences for visitors, promote awareness and understanding among Canadians, and provide benefits for Indigenous peoples and coastal communities.

National Marine Conservation Areas System

Protecting and conserving representative marine ecosystems and key features.

National Marine Conservation Areas policy and regulations

Updating the NMCA policy and developing regulations.

What is a national marine conservation area reserve?

A national marine conservation area reserve is an NMCA that is within an area subject to one or more Indigenous land claim(s) accepted for negotiation by the Government of Canada. An NMCA reserve is established and managed in the same manner as an NMCA, but the status of the area is subject to the final resolution of Indigenous claims.

Visit a national marine conservation area

British Columbia

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site

Amid lush rainforest islands and seas rich with wildlife, Gwaii Haanas harbours rare sites of carved poles and longhouses, making this park culturally important to the Haida people who co-manage cooperatively manage the region with Parks Canada.

Go to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site

Ontario

Fathom Five National Marine Park

Fascinating limestone flowerpots, pristine freshwater, lush cliff-edge woodland, serene backcountry campsites, historic lightstations and exciting scuba-sites make Fathom Five National Marine Park an awe-inspiring Great Lake escape.

Go to Fathom Five National Marine Park

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area

Home to more than 70 fish species and 50 shipwrecks, Lake Superior is one of the world’s largest protected freshwater areas and offers outdoor activities ranging from fishing and swimming to snowshoeing and surfing.

Go to Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area

Quebec

Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park

Watch whales and learn about the fascinating mammals and their habitat. The Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park is recognized as one of the best places in the world for whale watching.

Go to Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park

Nunavut

Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area

Explore this breathtaking Arctic landscape where narwhals live side by side with thousands of seabirds in an area adjacent to vibrant Inuit communities and majestic fjords and glaciers.

Go to Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area

Passes, permits and fees

Seasonal and annual passes, boating permits and daily fees.

Testing the waters

One advisor’s role in creating new national marine conservation areas.

YouTube playlist: national marine conservation areas

Drop anchor in a secluded cove and savour an island to yourself, exploring lush landscapes beneath towering old growth.

More places to discover with Parks Canada