A NMCA is a protected area that represents one of the 29 unique marine regions of Canada. They are established by Parks Canada to conserve Canada’s national and cultural marine heritage for the benefit, education and employment of people, including Indigenous Peoples and the world. One avenue is to establish these areas under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act. These areas are managed and used in a sustainable manner that meets the needs of present and future generations without compromising ecosystem function.   

There are generally five steps, although the process is unique for each area. 

An infographic shows five white bubbles, each identifying a different stage of NMCA creation and connected by dotted lines. There is white clip art of seaweed surrounding the bubbles. Stage 1: Identify representative marine areas. Based on how well they represent biology, geology, oceanography, marine & coastal habitats, cultural & historical features. Stage 2: Select a potential NMCA. This step is highlighted yellow to show where we are currently in the process. From candidate sites identified in step 1, at least one representative marine area of the region is selected to advance to the feasibility assessment. Stage 3: Assess the feasibility of a NMCA. Based on extensive local consultations with required cooperation & support from stakeholders & governments - including Indigenous governments. Stage 4: Negotiating an agreement. Agreements with appropriate governments & indigenous Peoples are negotiated to set out the terms & conditions under which the NMCA will be established & managed. Stage 5: Establishment of a NMCA. NMCA’s are established under the Canada National Marine Conservation Act. This text has been modified from a Parks Canada document.