Government unveils plans to meet ambitious marine protection targets as Shell Canada relinquishes Lancaster Sound oil permits
OTTAWA, June 8, 2016 /CNW/ - On World Oceans Day, WWF-Canada celebrates two major steps toward greater ocean protections announced at our Canada Oceans Summit. Cabinet ministers said the government is taking action to meet its commitment to protect five per cent of Canada's oceans by 2017 and 10 per cent by 2020, and Shell Canada relinquished oil and gas exploration permits in Lancaster Sound.
Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, laid out a multi-faceted approach to meeting the government's ambitious marine protection targets. LeBlanc committed to streamlining the process for designating new Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), completing the designation of Areas of Interest (AOIs), identifying new sites, and implementing other effective measures such as fisheries closures to protect vulnerable corals and sponges.
LeBlanc also announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada will co-ordinate a new research network, the Oceans Research in Canada Alliance (ORCA), to promote partnerships and research-sharing in order to meet the marine protection targets more effectively.
Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced Shell Canada has relinquished oil and gas exploration permits near the government-proposed boundary for a Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area. By eliminating these permits, granted over 40 years ago and recently disputed by WWF-Canada, the Government of Canada has set the stage to protect a significantly larger area in the Lancaster Sound region. See this earlier statement for WWF-Canada's full response to the Lancaster Sound news.
David Miller, president and CEO, WWF-Canada said:
"Our health and well-being are inherently linked to the health of our marine ecosystems and the life-support they provide the planet. Just as oceans take care of us, we must in turn be caretakers for our three oceans. Marine protected areas limit industrial developments in places that are important for communities, provide homes for species and sensitive habitats, and increase the resilience of our oceans to climate change. Protected areas also help replenish fish populations that harvesters and coastal communities depend on."
About Marine Protected Areas in Canada
- The globally accepted, legal definition of a marine protected area comes from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and states that an MPA is: "A clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values."
- It currently takes many years and sometimes more than a decade to legally protect a marine area.
- Canada currently has 743 MPAs covering 62,452 km2. This covers 1.1 per cent of Canada's three oceans and Great Lakes.
- In order to reach the target of 10 per cent, an additional 497,548 km2 will need to be designated by 2020.
- Research shows that in order to reach their full potential, MPAs should not allow any fishing, mining, drilling, or other extractive activities; be large (greater than 100 km2); and be well-enforced.
- Globally, scientific consensus is that at least 30 per cent of the oceans need to be protected by effective MPAs in order to conserve marine biodiversity.
About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more info visit wwf.ca
For further information: Please contact Sarah MacWhirter, senior manager, strategic communications, [email protected], +1 416-489-8800 ext. 7276, mobile 416-347-1894