National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCA) are marine areas managed for sustainable use and containing smaller zones of high protection. They include the seabed, the water above it and any species which occur there. They may also take in wetlands, estuaries, islands and other coastal lands.
Canada is truly a maritime nation with the longest coastline in the world, over 243,000 km along three oceans, with an additional 9500 km along the Great Lakes. Canada also has responsibility for over 5 million km2 of marine waters, the equivalent of about 60% of the country's land mass.
NMCAs are relative newcomers to Parks Canada's networks. The NMCAs divide the country's oceans and Great Lakes into 29 marine regions, each one a distinct combination of physical and biological characteristics. Existing national marine conservation areas include submerged lands, the water above them, and any species found there. They can also take in wetlands, estuaries, islands and other coastal lands. Parks Canada is responsible for both protecting these ecosystems and managing them for visitors to understand, appreciate, and enjoy in a sustainable manner.