Overwhelming support for more ambitious Canadian ocean protection targets, new survey finds


“Canadians care deeply about our ocean, and want to sustain its abundance for future generations. This requires strong leadership and laws that ensure real and lasting protection.” — Stephanie Hewson, West Coast Environmental Law 

Image result for canada's ocean protection plan
The Oceans Protection Plan is the Government of Canada’s largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways 

OTTAWA – Over 90 per cent of Canadians support the call to protect 30 per cent of the country’s oceans by 2030, according to a survey released today by Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, West Coast Environmental Law and World Wildlife Fund Canada. This high level of support for ambitious targets aligns with an increase in pessimism about the state of Canada’s oceans, with half of Canadians saying they think ocean health is only fair or poor — a 12-point increase since the survey was last issued in 2016. The results come from a public opinion survey conducted by Environics Research.

Currently, about eight per cent of Canada’s ocean is protected, according to the federal government, which has pledged to protect at least 10 per cent by 2020. However, research suggests this will not be enough to effectively protect marine species and habitats.

Survey highlights:

There is consistent, strong support for ocean protection among Canadians.

  • Since at least 2012, Canadians have agreed that ocean protection is an important way to reduce environmental impact.
  • 65 per cent“strongly support” marine protected areas (MPAs), 32 per cent “somewhat support” them and only three per cent oppose them.
  • Nearly three out of four Canadians feel strongly about prioritizing ocean protections to sustain coastal economies, rather than allowing industrial activities in all parts of the ocean.
  • A strong majority of people across the political spectrum think that ocean protection is “very important,” with results for this finding ranging from 65 to 85 per cent agreeing.

Canadians are not satisfied with the current level of ocean protection and support continued momentum.

  • Over 90 per cent of those polled support international momentum to set a more ambitious target for ocean protection.
  • 74 per cent say the current level of ocean protection is not enough.

Canadians recognize the benefits of MPAs for people and the planet.

  • Those who believe MPAs will benefit the economy outnumber those who think it will hurt the economy three to one.

Canadians believe that industrial development should not be allowed in protected ocean areas.

  • More than four out of five Canadians believe oil and gas, bottom trawling, and dumping should be excluded from MPAs.


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