The Government of Canada is moving forward on its plan to reach its domestic and international targets of protecting 5% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020 to ensure a healthy environment and economy for current and future generations.
The Parliamentary secretary to the minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and member of Parliament for Burnaby North – Seymour, Terry Beech, on the behalf of the honourable Dominic LeBlanc, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced a new area of interest (AOI) off the coast of British Columbia, with the intention of making it one of Canada’s largest marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2020.
The AOI aims to protect ecologically and biologically significant areas, including underwater seamounts and a series of hydrothermal vents. Fisheries and Oceans Canada identified the area as a priority for protection through a peer-reviewed science advisory process.
The announcement is the first step towards establishing a new MPA under Canada’s Oceans Act. Once the AOI is identified, final boundaries and activity restrictions for an MPA are established through extensive consultations with provincial and territorial partners, Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders.
An Advisory Committee will be established to gather input from interested and affected parties concerning the creation of the future MPA. This input, along with scientific expertise and traditional ecological knowledge, will contribute to a report to support the development of the conservation objectives and the management measures of the proposed MPA.
The protection of large offshore areas is one component of Canada’s five point plan to reach its marine conservation target of 10% by 2020. The plan includes finishing the work already started in areas progressing towards designation as MPAs, identifying news MPAs to protect areas currently under pressure from human activities, identifying existing and establishing new other effective area-based conservation measures, such as restrictions to fishing to create marine shelters for fish, mammals and their habitat, as well and exploring ways to update the Oceans Act to facilitate the designation process for MPAs.
“Our government is pleased to continue our work on protecting our oceans with the identification of a new large area of interest in the Pacific Ocean that recognizes the unique marine ecosystems that need to be protected in order to ensure the health of our environment, our communities and Canada’s fishing industry. We look forward to working with the Province of British Columbia, Indigenous Peoples, coastal communities, and stakeholders to determine the best ways to protect this large biologically significant ocean area,” said the honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“By working together we can protect a large offshore area that includes several entire ecosystems and unique ocean features, interdependent habitats, and the connectivity between distinct sites in a part of the ocean that is not currently under extensive pressure from human activity. It is a lengthy process to designate a marine protected area in Canada, but it’s worthy of our collective efforts,” said Terry Beech, Parliamentary secretary to the minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and member of Parliament for Burnaby North – Seymour.