About Us


“Making the world a better place, one no-take marine protected sanctuary at a time”

Support our Marine Life Sanctuaries Society:

The Pacific Marine Life Sanctuaries Society became a registered charitable organization in 1990 but was renamed the Marine Life Sanctuaries Society in 1993. That same year, Bernard Hanby, one of the founders of the society, wrote an article entitled, An Idea Whose Time Has Come wherein he identified the long-overdue justification for marine reserves (read article here). Since 1985 the idea of forming a society had been buoyed around by long time dive partners, Andy Lamb and Bernard Hanby, authours of the popular, photographic and encyclopedic book, Marine Life of the Pacific Northwest (2005). Throughout thousands of dives on the Central Coast of BC over a period of 25 years, they had observed a significant decline in populations of inshore rockfish species that were formally abundant. Coincidentally, they noticed a major increase in the targeting of live rockfish species by commercial interests and increased sport-fishing pressure. They decided it was time to take action, and establishing marine sanctuaries was deemed a promising approach.

There is a false perception that these aforementioned areas are protected from predation (fishing, trapping, etc…). This is not the case. Many of these areas still allow many different forms of predation. A healthy marine environment requires a full no-take initiative for a marine sanctuary to exist. The sanctuary will have a spill-over affect that will benefit all surrounding areas. They need to be large and the protection needs to be enforced.

Since its initiation, MLSS has been working to achieve greater protection of our coastal waters through the creation of sanctuaries where absolutely no extraction of life, or mineral, is permitted within a marine protected area (MPA). After decades of lobbying by not-for-profit organizations, and with much talk, little was accomplished with < 0.5% of areas off the coast of Canada protected. Until now.

Although new Marine Protected Areas were established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) in 2017, coast to coast to coast, a meager 3.64% of our marine coastal areas is protected. Nonetheless, progress is being made. After 16 years, an Oceans Act MPA has finally been established to protect the  glass sponge reef ecosystems in Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. More recently, other locations supporting these incredible glass sponge reefs have been found in the Strait of Georgia and Howe Sound, including 12 discovered by MLSS. The stakeholder consultation process is underway and the hopes are high that they too will be protected under DFO’s goal to achieve 10% protected marine and coastal areas by 2020.

MLSS knows that the best methodology to support over-harvested marine life and help it survive, and enable the ecosystems to return to a healthy sustainable state, lies in full no-take marine sanctuaries. As with the observed decline of rockfish species, 90% of the world’s big fish are gone from our oceans; yet few people are aware of this.

Our Vision:   MLSS will create an environment that is conducive to educating, inspiring and engaging the individuals and communities to support the creation of marine protected areas (or sanctuaries).

Our Mission:  Making the world a better place, one No-Take Marine Protected Area (MPA) sanctuary at a time.

Our Pledge:  Being a member of MLSS means that you, as a member and marine steward, will voluntarily refrain from extracting any marine organism out of RCAs, MCAs, NMCAs, and other marine reserves.

More information:

Board of Directors & Committee Chairs

Marine Life Sanctuaries

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