Canada-Quebec Framework Agreement signed at last

A major step towards a Marine Protected Areas (MPA) network in the Saint Lawrence

Montreal, September 27th 2017 - The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS Quebec) and the David Suzuki Foundation are delighted to announce an agreement between Quebec and Ottawa on a marine protected areas (MPA) network in Québec's coastal regions. The agreement, signed by seven ministers and ten years in the making, will formalize cooperation between Quebec and the Government of Canada, laying down a framework for collaboration in this area.

The signing of this agreement finally allows the relevant government authorities to work together in earnest. "The next step will be for Quebec and Ottawa to reach an agreement on the establishment of a marine protected areas network in the St. Lawrence" explains Alain Branchaud, executive director of CPAWS Quebec. "Projects for the St. Lawrence estuary, the American Bank and the Magdalen Islands must go ahead without delay."

Both organizations urge Quebec and Ottawa to honour their international commitment to protect 10% of ocean estate by 2020, an objective which will require creativity and good will. As it stands, only 1.3% of Quebec's and around 3% of Canada's maritime territory is protected, seriously lagging behind other countries such as Australia (36%), the USA (30%) and France (16%). Nevertheless, protecting the oceans to fight against the loss of marine biodiversity and increase resilience against climate change is now an irrefutable necessity. Establishing marine protected areas will strengthen the resilience of species and ecosystems, maintain sustainable fishing practices and also preserve acoustic refuges for belugas in the estuary.

Karel Mayrand, executive director of the David Suzuki Foundation for the Quebec and Atlantic Department, comments that, "the critical status of belugas and North Atlantic right whales in the St. Lawrence should be a clear warning sign. The position of these iconic species is the reflection of a deeper and much more worrying issue. Our oceans need protection now more than ever".

CPAWS Quebec and the David Suzuki Foundation invite the relevant government authorities to actively work together, to be more transparent, more efficient and to deploy all the necessary resources to ensure a solid MPA network in Quebec by 2020. Both organizations are ready to offer all their support to make this vision a reality. Special interest sites in the St. Lawrence must be identified and protected before going ahead with maritime development projects. It should also be noted that petroleum exploration and drilling is incompatible with the preservation of the St. Lawrence.

Furthermore, CPAWS Quebec and the David Suzuki Foundation encourage the two governments to ensure the social acceptability of projects in marine protected areas by first consulting local communities and First Nations about possible scenarios in their respective regions. The Quebec population as a whole should also be subject to a wide-ranging consultation so as to legitimize a robust marine protected areas network in the St. Lawrence.

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Contacts :

Charlène Daubenfeld
Communications Manager, CPAWS Quebec

Geneviève King-Ruel,
Communications Manager, David Suzuki Foundation