Oceans North Canada Praises Creation of Arctic's First Marine Protected Area

OTTAWA, Aug. 26 /CNW/ - Oceans North Canada commends Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his announcement today about the creation of the Tarium Niryutait Marine Protected Area in the Beaufort Sea, the first such designation in Canada's Arctic.

"This important marine conservation area will protect the summering grounds of the world's largest beluga population from the increasing pressures of industrial development in the Western Arctic," said Trevor Taylor, policy director for Oceans North Canada. "The continued health of these beluga whales is fundamental to the Inuvialuit who rely on a vibrant ecosystem for their cultural and economic subsistence."

The prime minister made the announcement in Tuktoyaktuk, NWT during his summer tour of the Arctic. Planning for the marine protected area was done by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Inuvialuit Game Council, the Fisheries Joint Management Committee and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

"We congratulate the Inuvialuit organizations who worked with the federal government over the last decade to develop this marine protected area," said Louis Porta, who represented Oceans North Canada at the Tuktoyaktuk event. "This is the second major conservation initiative for the Beaufort Sea that the federal government has announced in the last week and will help ensure a healthier marine environment."

The government previously announced the Beaufort Sea Regional Environmental Assessment that will fund environmental and socio-economic research to inform potential offshore oil and gas activities.

"Today's announcement is timely given the growing pressures to develop hydrocarbon in the Beaufort," Taylor said. "These initiatives, if implemented correctly, will help the Inuvialuit and the government collect baseline data about this sensitive region before large-scale oil and gas development takes place."

In a related development, the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans recently recommended that Ottawa work with Inuvialuit communities on a moratorium on new commercial fisheries in the Beaufort Sea. Such a plan would prevent large-scale commercial fishing until scientists and Inuvialuit communities ensure it can be done sustainably.

Oceans North Canada supports the creation of a precautionary Beaufort fisheries plan in partnership with Inuvialuit leaders that could set an example for other Arctic countries. In the face of rapidly melting ice and increased commercial demand, such a plan could also serve as a model for international fisheries cooperation in the High Arctic.

Oceans North Canada promotes science-and-community-based conservation of Canada's northern seas and the resulting wellbeing of indigenous Arctic peoples.
For more information visit our website: www.oceansnorth.ca


For further information: For further information:

Trevor Taylor, trevortaylor@oceansnorth.ca (613) 290-4498

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