FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 30th, 2017
Halifax – The continued opposition to marine protected areas expressed by Keith Colwell, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the annual meeting of Fisheries Ministers in Whitehorse this week is problematic on several fronts, contends the Ecology Action Centre.
In November 2015, the federal government recommitted to protecting 10% of Canada’s coastal and marine environments, in keeping with the 2010 agreement through the Convention on Biodiversity for all countries to achieve this goal by 2020.
A poll conducted by World Wildlife Fund-Canada in October 2016 found that 98% of Maritimers support Marine Protected Areas as a tool to maintain marine ecosystem health. This is the highest level of support of any region in Canada, and perhaps is reflective of the importance of our oceans for our economy and culture.
The Ecology Action Centre, World Wildlife Fund-Canada and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society sent a letter in February 2017 asking for provincial support for the federal objective to meet protected area targets, and that the provincial engagement be lead by Nova Scotia Environment. No response to this letter was ever received.
The Nova Scotia Liberal Party platform included the extension of a moratorium on fracking, a Coastal Protection Act that promises continued prosperity of the fishing industry and better planning to ensure protection against increased impacts of climate change, and a new Biodiversity Act and related Biodiversity Council.
The Ecology Action Centre is engaged in outreach to coastal communities across Nova Scotia to ensure that communities are able to participate in and benefit from efforts to increase ocean protection. The mandate of the Centre is to support a sustainable environment and sustainable livelihoods.
Statements in response by Senior Marine Coordinator, Susana D. Fuller
“The Minister did not seem aware of the fact that existing protected areas will be counted towards the target. As Nova Scotia has protected almost 13% of its terrestrial environment through parks and Wilderness Protected Areas, this implies that Nova Scotian’s and the provincial government support biodiversity protection. The idea that protecting the ocean is considered a “burden” as expressed in the April 5th letter to the federal government from Nova Scotia is counter to how most other jurisdictions in the world feel about ensuring that our oceans continue to provide valuable ecosystem services and much needed wild protein. “
“We were well aware of the provincial government’s position on marine protected areas, largely lead by the Department of Energy, in its efforts to have all areas open to oil and gas development. But to have that position continued at the recent meeting of provincial fisheries and aquaculture Ministers seem out of line with the promises made by Liberals just last month.”
“What is even more perplexing, is that Nova Scotia has really benefitted from the increased federal attention on oceans – from science funding to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, to the establishment of the Oceans Frontier Institute headquartered at Dalhousie University, as well as the federal funding for the Dalhousie led Ocean School, all of which help grow our ocean expertise. We need this type of investment to become ocean leaders – but when it comes to protection, the province says it has done enough.”
“Engaging ocean users is imperative in the protected area planning process, and having provincial leadership on this is critical. When the province is not behind a proactive initiative for environmental protection, it makes it much more difficult for stakeholders to work together.”
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For further information, please contact:
Senior Marine Coordinator