Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area

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Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area
IUCN category VI (protected area with sustainable use of natural resources)
Map showing the location of Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area
Map showing the location of Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area
Map showing the location of Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area
Map showing the location of Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area
LocationNorthwestern Ontario, Canada
Nearest cityNipigon, Ontario, Canada
Coordinates48°26′6″N 89°13′14″W / 48.43500°N 89.22056°W / 48.43500; -89.22056Coordinates: 48°26′6″N 89°13′14″W / 48.43500°N 89.22056°W / 48.43500; -89.22056
Area10,000 km²
EstablishedSeptember 1, 2015
Governing bodyParks Canada
Sea Lion Arch and Sleeping Giant, Lake Superior shoreline, Ontario

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area is a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) on the north shore of Lake Superior in Ontario, and is a unit of the national park system. Established on September 1, 2015,[1] it is the largest freshwater marine protected area in the world.[2][3]

Although national marine parks and a reserve had been created previously, and managed as NMCAs, this was the first area in Canada to be designated a "National Marine Conservation Area" as defined by the Marine Conservation Areas Act.[4] Plans to create it were first announced by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on October 25, 2007, in Nipigon, Ontario.[5] The area is a unit of Canada's national park system administered by Parks Canada.

The conservation area extends 140 kilometres (87 mi) eastward from Thunder Bay,[2] from Thunder Cape in the west, at the tip of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, to Bottle Point in the east, and stretches southward to the Canada-US border, linking with Isle Royale National Park.[6] The Nipigon River and Lake Nipigon lie to the north.[3]

Designation process[edit]

Proposals to protect the area were first suggested in the mid-1990s, and formal plans were first announced in 2002.[4]

The marine conservation area was proposed after discussion with provincial and First Nations representatives. The First Nations in the area, represented by Wilfred King, the regional grand chief of the northern Superior region, endorsed the proposal once they were satisfied that it respected the Robinson Superior Treaty of 1850.[4]

Parks Canada distributed questionnaires to local residents as a public consultation. 67% of respondents supported the "largest possible designation area," with 13% opposing any NMCA designation, and the remaining supporting some form of NMCA.[7]

In June 2015, the federal government introduced a bill to create the NMCA, which received royal assent on June 24.[1] The law specified that the NMCA would come into force on either the day of approval or on September 1, 2015—whichever came latest. With approval given in June, the park was legally created on September 1.


Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area covers roughly 10,000 km2 (3,861 sq mi) of lakebed, its overlaying freshwater, and associated shoreline on 60 km2 (23 sq mi) of islands and mainland.[6] The area is home to numerous species including herons, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles.[4][7] The spawning and schooling waters of deep coldwater fish, such as whitefish, lake herring, walleye, and lake trout will be protected by this zone.[7][8] Caribou foraging and calving areas are located on shore.[5][8] Lake Superior is home to about 70 fish species.[9]

The official designation prevents resource extraction or other operations which may damage the aquatic or terrestrial ecosystems in the conservation area.[10] However, per the agreement with the First Nations, it does not exclude all commercial marine activity, such as shipping, and commercial and sport fishing.[11]

Acquisition of Wilson Islands[edit]

In 2009 the Wilson Islands were purchased from private owners. These eight almost untouched islands lie off Rossport in Ontario waters. The acquisition was made by the governments of Canada and Ontario, and the Nature Conservancy of both Canada and the United States, with donated funds, much of which were contributed by U.S. donors. The acquisition had substantial support from the Pays Plat First Nation, which will cooperate in stewardship of the islands.

The islands include cliffs, both rocky and sandy shorelines, coastal wetlands, and deep forests. Flora include the rare mountain fir moss and northern woodsia fern; fauna include peregrine falcons, bald eagles, and shorebirds. Their habitat will now be protected from mining and other development. By this acquisition, the marine conservation area, already the largest freshwater protected area in the world, acquires and preserves over 4,700 acres (1,900 hectares) of land in the heart of the preserve.[13][14]

Relics of human history[edit]

Historic shipwrecks lie on the seabed of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area,[15] including the Gunilda at Rossport.[7] The shores have two areas of First Nation pictographs and Sibley Peninsula has archaeological sites from Paleoindian, archaic, and woodland settlements.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area Receives Highest Level of Federal Protection". Parks Canada. 24 June 2015. Archived from the original on 28 June 2015. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  2. ^ a b Lambert, Steve (26 October 2007). "Harper and key recruit announce marine park". Toronto Star. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Canada creates world's biggest water reserve". Agence France-Presse. 25 October 2007. Archived from the original on 5 January 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d Ditchburn, Jennifer (24 October 2007). "PM expected to unveil marine conservation area". Toronto Star. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Harper announces creation of protected marine park". CBC News. 25 October 2007. Archived from the original on 3 March 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
  6. ^ a b "Great Lakes Action Plan 2000-2005". Environment Canada. 6 July 2004. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  7. ^ a b c d e Turk, Linda (June–July 2000). "What's in a Name? Some Believe a New Designation Can Protect the North Shore". Lake Superior Magazine. 22 (3): 38.
  8. ^ a b "A Superior day for Canada". World Wide Fund for Nature Canada. 25 October 2007. Archived from the original on 30 October 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  9. ^ "Lake Superior". Parks Canada. Retrieved 27 October 2007.
  10. ^ "Ottawa to create protected zone in northern Lake Superior". CBC News. 24 October 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
  11. ^ "Canada sets largest freshwater conservation area". Reuters. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  12. ^ "Harper announces Lake Superior marine park". CTVglobemedia. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2007.
  13. ^ "Canada and U.S. Join Forces to Protect Natural Gem". The Nature Conservancy. 28 September 2009.
  14. ^ Myers, John (26 September 2009). "Lake Superior islands purchased for protection". Duluth News Tribune. p. B-1.
  15. ^ "Canada to Have Large Marine Area at Lake". Associated Press. 25 October 2007. Archived from the original on November 11, 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2007.

External links[edit]