30 Oct 2017 - Canada's oceans have been part of our history, our culture and our way of life from coast to coast to coast since time immemorial. Climate change and human activity are affecting our oceans and coastlines, and humanity has a duty to protect them.
The Government of Canada committed to increase the protection of marine and coastal areas to 5% by the end of 2017, and to 10% by 2020, to ensure a healthy and sustainable marine environment now and for future generations. Today, Canada is proud to celebrate the achievement of that first major milestone.
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, announced that Canada has now surpassed our target to protect 5% of our oceans and coastlines by 2017.
New marine refuges off the coast of British Columbia and in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence in Quebec together contribute an additional 1.59% of protected ocean area to Canada's coasts, bringing us past our domestic 5% target and closer to our international target. These refuges were created thanks to close collaboration with partners and stakeholders.
The marine refuge in the Pacific coast is located within the boundaries of the new large Offshore Pacific Area of Interest, and protects underwater seamounts and several hydrothermal vents by prohibiting all bottom-contact commercial and recreational fishing activities within the refuge.
In addition, 11 new marine refuges in the Gulf of St. Lawrence will make a lasting contribution to marine conservation in Canada. They aim to protect cold-water coral and sponge communities and prohibit the use of bottom-contact fishing gear, whether it be for commercial, recreational, or Aboriginal subsistence fishing.
This summer, Minister McKenna and Minister LeBlanc announced a proposed national marine conservation area in Tallurutiup Imanga/Lancaster Sound that more than doubled the area of Canada's marine protected waters, and will contribute about 1.9% of Canada's total marine estate towards the 5 % protection goal announced today.
Both Ministers agreed that while Canada has made progress toward meeting these targets since announcing Canada's plan on World Oceans Day in June of 2016, there is more work needed to ensure that marine and coastal areas are protected for future generations.