OTTAWA, June 8, 2017 /CNW/ - One year ago, the Government of Canada announced its five point plan to increase the amount of protected marine and coastal areas to 5% by 2017 and to 10% by 2020. That is why the Government of Canada is proud to designate St. Anns Bank as a new Marine Protected Area that will provide long-term protection of an important part of our oceans.
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard announced the establishment of the St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area today at the Canadian Museum of Nature. With this year's World Oceans Day theme "Our Oceans, Our Future" in mind, Minister LeBlanc highlighted the strides made for the long-term protection of Canada's oceans.
Located east of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, this Marine Protected Area helps conserve and protect many ecologically and biologically significant features, including important habitats, areas of high biodiversity and biological productivity, and endangered and threatened marine species, including the leatherback turtle. Four management zones have been established within the boundaries of the Marine Protected Area, balancing protection with economic sustainability for the area. The Core Protection Zone represents 75% of the total size of the St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area, offering the most stringent protection to the areas that need it most. Most human activities, such as commercial fishing, are prohibited within this zone.
As science and consultations continue to guide what kind of protection is needed and where, the progress on our five point plan to achieve our marine conservation targets is proof that Canada is well underway to reaching its targets:
- Finish What Was Started: Today's announcement is the third MPA designation in less than one year. In November 2016, the Government of Canada announced the designation of the Anguniaqvia niqiqyuam MPA in Darnley Bay in the Northwest Territories, followed by the Hecate Strait Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs MPA in British Columbia in February 2017.
Work towards the designation of a national marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound in Nunavut, and the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Areas in British Columbia is progressing well. Efforts are now being turned towards establishing the Laurentian Channel in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Banc des Américains in Quebec as Marine Protected Areas.
- Protect Pristine Areas: On May 24, 2017, a new large Area of Interest (AOI) was identified off the coast of British Columbia, representing approximately 140,000 km2 of ocean space. The AOI aims to provide protection to ecologically and biologically significant areas, including underwater seamounts and a ridge of hydrothermal vents.
- Protect Areas Under Pressure: Work is advancing to develop MPA networks in five priority bioregions, areas delineated by science according to their unique ecosystems in Canada's oceans. Areas under pressure from human activities will be selected for protection as MPAs from these developing networks. MPA networks use various conservation tools to achieve conservation objectives within each marine bioregion, connecting protection measures to provide a more holistic approach to conservation. For example, an MPA network can protect habitats important to life stages of species that migrate vast distances, such as spawning, nursing or feeding grounds.
- Advance Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures: Canada has established stringent criteria recognizing certain fisheries management measures that provide the necessary marine refuge for fish, mammals and their habitat and has already identified existing measures that contribute to Canada's marine conservation targets. Canada continues to work with international counterparts to advance criteria that will be used by coastal countries who share our conservation goals.
- Establish Marine Protected Areas Faster: The Government of Canada has been engaging with partners to discuss how the Oceans Act can be updated to facilitate the designation process for MPAs, without sacrificing science, or the public's opportunity to provide input.
"St. Anns Bank is the third Marine Protected Area to be designated in Canadian waters in less than 8 months. Our government's accomplishments in marine conservation come thanks to close collaboration with all levels of government, local communities, Indigenous communities, industry, and environmental non-governmental organizations. Our government is working toward conservation while contributing to the social and economic sustainability of coastal communities. Canada will continue to take a leadership role on marine conservation at the international level as work continues here at home on ocean protection and conservation initiatives."
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
- The St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area has many ecologically significant features, including areas of high biodiversity and biological productivity, and provides important habitat to a number of aquatic species, such as Atlantic wolfish, Atlantic cod, redfish, white hake, witch flounder, as well as sponges and sea pens. The area is also an important summer feeding area for the endangered leatherback turtle.
- The St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area provides protection to an additional 4,364 km2 of Canada's oceans, equivalent to around ¾ of the size of the Province of Prince Edward Island.
- Representatives from First Nations and Indigenous organizations, industry, academia, Environmental Non-Government Organizations, and provincial and federal government regulators contributed to the development of the MPA design.
- In November 2016, the Government of Canada announced the Oceans Protection Plan, a $1.5 billion strategy delivering the largest investment ever made to protect Canada's coasts and waterways. This national strategy is creating a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coastlines and clean water for generations to come.
Backgrounder: St. Anns Bank Marine Protected Area
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SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada
For further information: Media Relations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 613-990-7537, [email protected]; Laura Gareau, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 613-992-3474, [email protected]