FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, October 28, 2017
[KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX)] – Following a commitment in the mandate letter of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to protect 5% of Canada’s coastal and marine environments by 2017 and 10% by 2020, the latter goal consistent with international commitments by Canada under the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada announced today that it has met its interim target.
“We have seen DFO take its mandate seriously and move quickly to protect more of our ocean space in the last 2 years than it has in the last 20, and in fact in any time in history,” says Susanna Fuller, Senior Marine Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre.
As protecting marine areas under Canada’s Oceans Act takes between 6-8 years, if past processes is any indication – Canada has used additional tools under the Fisheries Act to protect vulnerable marine areas such as coral, sponge and seapen habitats as well as seamounts and hydrothermal vents from the impacts of fishing activity. As part of reaching the 5% target, DFO announced 11 new areas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and a large area on the west coast as fisheries closures.
“We have been advocating for years to have areas protected from bottom fishing, and we commend the government on moving on this, as there has been a policy in place since 2009 to make this possible", says Fuller. The Ecology Action Centre and fishermen started raising the issue of cold water coral and sponge protection in the late 1990’s, so it is great to see progress – however, it is also imperative that these areas are protected from other activities including oil and gas and the potential for mining activities.”
Currently, closures under Canada’s Fisheries Act can only manage fishing activity. Efforts at law reform are underway with proposed amendments to the Oceans Act and Canada Petroleum Resources Act underway and the potential to amend the Fisheries Act to ensure that fishing closures are made permanent.
“We know that our oceans are under increasing threats from human use and climate change,” says Fuller. "At the same time, particularly in Atlantic Canada, we depend upon the ocean for an incredible amount of economic prosperity and coastal livelihoods. Protecting areas is part of ensuring that our oceans can continue to support the biodiversity and fish stocks we need for both food and jobs.”
For further information, please contact:
Susanna Fuller, Senior Marine Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre