There is a large disparity between the extent of terrestrial and marine protected areas, both in terms of their scale and level of protection. Compared to the world's terrestrial landbase, roughly 13% of which is protected*, less than 1% of the world's oceans are currently protected**.
Canada has the longest coastline in the world - over 243,000 km along the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans - and 9500 km of coastline along the Great Lakes. Across this expanse, Canada is creating a network of three types of marine protected areas.
In addition, some of Canada's migratory bird sanctuaries, national wildlife areas, national parks, and provincial/ territorial parks also have marine components.
Marine environments face a slew of issues that reduce their ecological integrity. These include, but are not limited to: persistent pollutants, invasive species, habitat alteration and degradation, contamination of harvested resources, shifts in major oceanographic drivers due to climate change, and illegal discharge of ship-generated wastes. Major declines in some fish stocks and greater stock fluctuations, declining upper trophic levels (predators), declining biodiversity and productivity, and increasing numbers of Species at Risk have been documented in Canadian marine environments (DFO).
*Coad. L., Burgess, N.D., Loucks, C., Fish, L., Scharlemann, J.P.W., Duarte, L, and Besançon, B. (2009). UNEP-WCMC, WWFUS and ECI, University of Oxford.
**Spalding, M.D., Fish, L. and Woods, L.J. (2008). Conservation Letters 1: 217-226.