TORONTO, ON (October 28, 2017) – Oceana Canada applauds the Government of Canada’s success in surpassing its commitment to protect five per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2017. Today’s announcement of new marine refuges off the coast of British Columbia and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec marks an historic milestone on the path to protecting 10 per cent by 2020.
“Oceana Canada congratulates the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister for Environment and Climate Change Canada for this significant achievement,” said Josh Laughren, Executive Director, Oceana Canada. “By protecting marine ecosystems, the government is investing in the future health, biodiversity and abundance of our oceans.”
The commitment was initially made at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity in 2010 and reaffirmed in 2015. Closing areas are effective means for reducing threats to significant and vulnerable habitats that contribute to conserving biodiversity and the productivity of important marine ecosystems.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO’s) recent investments in science and partnerships, including through expeditions and ocean exploration, are vital to providing the evidence needed to select candidate areas for enhanced management. Oceana Canada and DFO partnered this past August to explore the Gulf of St Lawrence.
“Together, we used a state-of-the-art remotely operated vehicle to visually explore and study the seafloor in never-before-seen sensitive marine areas at depths of hundreds of metres from the surface” said Laughren. “Juvenile redfish were abundant in fields of sea pens – a soft coral – providing evidence of the incredible diversity of marine life and habitats in these areas.”
This is one example of how protecting habitats may contribute to fisheries rebuilding such as for redfish, a commercially important species whose population is now showing signs of recovery following decades of overfishing.
Oceana Canada will continue to conduct expeditions and advocate for restoring abundant, healthy oceans to support the government of Canada’s goal of protecting 10 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2020.
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About Oceana Canada
Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with an ocean surface area of 7.1 million square kilometres, or 70 per cent of its landmass. Oceana Canada believes that Canada has a national and global obligation to manage our natural resources responsibly and help ensure a sustainable source of protein for the world’s growing population. Oceana Canada works with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits, and protect our future.