JUNE 2010


CEC Celebrates World Oceans Day

Marine protected areas map promotes understanding of North America's shared ocean resources to enhance biodiversity conservation and protection of critical marine habitats

The CEC celebrates the June 8 World Oceans Day with its latest map from the North American Environmental Atlas: Marine Protected Areas. North America's 2,000 marine protected areas (MPAs) represent an unprecedented effort to safeguard the continent's fragile marine environments and are found throughout the marine ecoregions that encircle North America. This map, for the first time, brings together information about all types of marine protected areas in Canada, Mexico and the United States, offering details about protection status and who manages the sites. A functional network of marine protected areas is crucial for maintaining ecological integrity and protecting migratory species and transboundary habitats. They are also important to help ecosystems recover from or adapt to a wide variety of threats, including pollution from oil spills, overexploitation and rapidly changing environmental conditions.

North America's marine protected areas are also closely linked to the quality of the water flowing from our rivers and watersheds, as Canada's Rivers to Oceans Week reminds us. Last month, the Atlas released a North American watersheds map, which features four levels of watersheds that cover the continent, including the six ocean drainage areas that flow into North America's oceans.

Marine Protected Areas

The newly released marine protected areas map of North America shows protected areas that are managed by national, state, provincial, or territorial authorities. These areas are important to enhance and strengthen the conservation of biodiversity in critical marine habitats throughout North America. These MPAs represent the start of a functional system of ecologically-based marine protected areas across North America that cross political borders and depend on broad cooperation. The data come from the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (http://www.ccea.org/), Quebec's Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (http://www.mddep.gouv.qc.ca/), Mexico's Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (http://www.conanp.gob.mx), and the United States' NOAA's National MPA Center (http://www.mpa.gov).

Marine Protected Areas, 2010

North American Marine Ecosystems

A new map viewer uses Google Earth to explore all of the Atlas' marine ecosystems maps and data

The collection of CEC's marine ecosystem maps is now available in Google Earth. These maps depict the CEC's work on marine ecosystems, including the establishment of ecologically significant regions, ecoregions (levels l-lll), priority conservation areas, marine protected areas, habitat maps of marine species of common conservation concern, and an ecological assessment scorecard piloted in 10 of North America's marine protected areas. Included in this collection is the first comprehensive map of North America's marine protected areas (see above). These maps represent efforts of Canada, Mexico and the United States to enhance conservation initiatives in North America's marine ecosystems. The kmls are downloadable at: http://www.cec.org/atlas/marine/

Watch a flyover of these maps on YouTube.




The North American Environmental Atlas assembles seamless, accurate, geospatial data, including maps, documentation and interactive map layers. The variety of base and thematic map layers is continuously expanding, providing a foundation to analyze the status of environmental conditions and identify significant trends across North America.


Integrated Google Earth maps

Many of the Atlas map layers can now be viewed from within the new map viewer using standard Google Earth files that can also be downloaded. For example, clicking on one of the 24 ecoregions in the Marine Ecoregions map displays detailed information about the ecoregion, along with a photo and links to more information. Launch


A North American partnership

The Atlas was created through the cooperation of scientists and map makers from Natural Resources Canada, Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía, the United States Geological Survey, and other agencies in each country through the work of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
Read the Atlas brochure


This image shows the locations of Quetzal and Balam, two female leatherback turtles being tracked using satellite telemetry (GPS/ARGOS tags) with support from the CEC. These turtles were released on February 3 and 4, 2010, from the Centro Mexicano de la Tortuga in Barra de la Cruz, one of Mexico's National Parks Commission (Conanp) turtle conservation sites. The objective is to carry out a preliminary evaluation of the offshore habitat most frequently used by leatherback females nesting in the Mexican Pacific and to train field personnel from Proyecto Laúd in basic telemetry procedures and the attachment of GPS/ARGOS tags on leatherback turtles. A more detailed report on the initiative is forthcoming.

Source: Ana Barragán and Laura Sarti, Preliminary assessment of marine habitat use and internesting movements of leatherback females in the Mexican Pacific: final report, forthcoming.

Map North America's shared environment
Do you have ideas for a map layer that the CEC should add to the North American Environmental Atlas? Are you using Atlas data in your projects?
Send your ideas, maps and mashups to: naatlas@cec.org.
We'll feature them in our map showcase.


The North American Environmental Atlas was launched in 2008 as part of the work program of the trilateral Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC was established to build cooperation among the NAFTA partners—Canada, Mexico and the United States—in protecting their shared environments, with a particular focus on the opportunities and challenges presented by continent-wide free trade.

For more information about the CEC, please visit http://www.cec.org.
To find out more about the Atlas, go to http://www.cec.org/naatlas or write to naatlas@cec.org.

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