Panel recommends no oil and gas in marine protected areas, calls on Federal Government for bold implementation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, October 16, 2018

K'JIPUKTUK [Halifax, NS] – Positive news for marine conservation today as the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards released its final report. The Panel has recommended that industrial-scale commercial activities such as oil and gas exploration, seabed mining and bottom-trawl fishing should be prohibited from marine protected areas (MPAs).

“We applaud the panel for clearly and strongly stating that these harmful extractive industries have no place in MPAs”, says Jordy Thomson, Marine Science and Conservation Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre (EAC). “Overall, we were pleased with the Panel’s recommendations.”

However, the Panel left the window open for industrial enterprises in other types of managed area in the oceans such as marine reserves.

“This is a concern because many of these areas were established to protect sensitive sea-bottom habitats and foundation species like cold-water corals and sponges, which can be damaged for long periods of time,” says Thomson. “It makes no sense to consider allowing oil and gas in these sites.”

There were other positives to come out of the Panel’s final report.  Most importantly, the Panel emphasized improving Crown-Indigenous relations and respecting constitutionally-protected Indigenous and treaty rights in the MPA process. “We strongly support the Panel’s recommendation that the federal government provide support to Indigenous communities seeking to establish their own protected areas,” says Mark Butler, Policy Director with the EAC.

The Panel also recommended that protected areas receive stable, long-term funding, and be adequately monitored to evaluate their effectiveness, which are both necessary for successful conservation.

As a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada has committed to protecting 10% of coastal and marine habitats by 2020.

If implemented, the Panel’s recommendations represent an important step for marine conservation in Canada. As the Panel authors conclude, “We now look to the federal government to implement these recommendations in a bold and meaningful way.”

The EAC couldn’t agree more. “We hope that federal and provincial governments, such as those of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, can now come together to advance marine protection in Canada using this report as a backbone,” says Thomson.

For further information, please contact:

Jordy Thomson
Marine Science and Conservation Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre
Office: 902-446-4840
Cell: 902-877-9382
Email: jordy.thomson@ecologyaction.ca

For french media inquiries, please contact:

Mark Butler
Policy Director, Ecology Action Centre
902-266-5401

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