CPAWS Oceans Report: Canada last in class in marine protection

  • Published on Jun 02 2014 |
  • This article is tagged as: marines areas |

Montréal, June 2, 2014 - In a new report released today, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) reveals that out of the 10 countries with the largest ocean estates, Canada ranks the lowest in terms of marine protected areas.

At just over 1% of its ocean territory protected, Canada ranks lower than China at 2%, and much lower than Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, which have protected 36%, 30%, and 17% of their ocean respectively. Economically, large networks of marine protected areas will be essential for Canada to sustain our fisheries into the future. These networks are also important for coastal communities who rely on eco-tourism activities to diversify their economies.

Canada very behind in its objectives

“Given that Canada has made international commitments to protect 10% of our ocean by 2020, we have a great deal of work to do in a short amount of time.” says CPAWS National Oceans Program Director Sabine Jessen.

In the report, Jessen and her colleagues examined three other jurisdictions that have a much better record of protection than Canada – Scotland, Australia, and California. To catch up with faster jurisdictions in the ocean protection fleet, they concluded that, among others, Canada needs:

  • better timelines and milestones;
  • open and transparent processes for engaging stakeholders and making decisions;
  • dedicated on-going funding with socio-economic and scientific research to inform decision-making; etc.

Québec: Ambitious goals... and on the ground?

Québec is the only province with a quantified target for marine conservation: 10% marine protection by 2015. To date, we are only at 1.3%.

There is no shortage of opportunities; Québec is blessed with exceptional marine biodiversity in many places. The report discusses 4 sites currently under consideration as future marine protected areas, but each project has been progressing so slowly that we may fear none will be completed before the end of 2015.

“In Gaspésie, everyone is at the table to work on the proposed marine protected area in the American Bank: the federal government, fishermen, citizens, organizations, and marine scientists… all except the Government of Québec! We do not understand this lack of engagement from our decision-makers on this file. They are the ones who have goals to meet for conservation!” says Patrick Nadeau, Executive Director of CPAWS Québec.

“What is happening in Cacouna, at the local scale, is symptomatic of Canada’s inaction in marine conservation; it’s been 15 years since there has been an MPA project in this area, and today, we find ourselves with an oil terminal project!” says Patrick Nadeau.

Yet it is the federal government itself* who described this area as “a feeding ground of critical importance for many species of marine mammals.”

*Source: Report on the Public Consultation on the St. Lawrence Estuary Marine Protected Area (MPA) Project – Department of Fisheries and Oceans, March 2010

>> For more details, see the full CPAWS Oceans Report here.

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For more information or to schedule an interview:
Murielle Renard
Responsable des communications - SNAP Québec
514-278-7627 #221
mrenard@snapqc.org