June 8, 2016
Ottawa, Ontario – The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, accompanied by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, today announced the Government of Canada’s plan to reach our marine conservation targets at the World Wildlife Fund Annual Oceans Summit.
The Ministers confirmed their strong commitment to meeting our international targets by putting in place a five point plan to achieving them. Collectively, this plan would substantially increase the number of Marine Protected Areas, protect large pristine areas, and would enable faster establishment of Oceans Act Marine Protected Areas. It is anticipated that there would be a combination of areas with no human activities and areas where activities, such as fishing, could continue as long as they do not infringe on conservation objectives.
The foundation of the approach would be engagement, consultation and transparency. Provinces and territories, Indigenous groups, environmental organizations, and fishing and other industries would be key partners in this important work.
Conservation and marine protection would be based on the best available science and Indigenous traditional knowledge. Reconciliation with Indigenous groups and respect for treaties would also be a hallmark of this approach.
Budget 2016 proposed $123.7 million over five years to support marine conservation activities. This includes the designation of new Marine Protected Areas under the Oceans Act and continuing work on developing new national parks and national marine conservation areas, including Lancaster Sound in Nunavut and other potential protected areas.
During the event, Shell Canada announced it has voluntarily contributed offshore rights to the Nature Conservancy of Canada in the waters of Baffin Bay, near Lancaster Sound. The Nature Conservancy of Canada has subsequently released the permits, representing an area larger than Banff National Park, to the Government of Canada, thereby facilitating an important conservation initiative.
Canada would reach its national and international marine conservation targets by doing the following:
- Finish What Was Started: Advance work already underway in areas progressing towards establishment, including the proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area, and five proposed Oceans Act Marine Protected Areas: Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs, Anguniaqvia Niqiqyuam, Laurentian Channel, St. Anns Bank and Banc des Américains;
- Protect Pristine Areas: Establish new, large Oceans Act Marine Protected Areas in pristine offshore areas;
- Protect Areas Under Pressure: Establish additional Oceans Act Marine Protected Areas in areas under pressure from human activities, for example where we are already advancing Marine Protected Area network development;
- Advance Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures: Identify existing and establish new kinds of conservation measures, such as closing fisheries in waters that are home to sensitive sponges and corals; and
- Establish Marine Protected Areas Faster: Examine how the Oceans Act can be updated to facilitate the designation process for Marine Protected Areas, without sacrificing science, or the public’s opportunity to provide input.
“Canada has the longest coastline in the world and we depend upon our oceans for a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Our Government is committed to putting forward a comprehensive plan to reach our international targets for protecting our marine and coastal areas for current and future generations. Innovative agreements like the one announced today to protect Lancaster Sound in Canada’s north show the incredible progress we can make by working collaboratively.”
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“Canada has unparalleled ocean and freshwater resources and protecting our waters is critical to the lives and livelihoods of all Canadians. Our government is committed to preserving and expanding marine protected areas, including Lancaster Sound. In doing so, we will recognize the role of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and in the traditional use of these special places. Through collaboration, and using science and Indigenous traditional knowledge as our guide, we will achieve our government’s ambitious targets for protecting marine and coastal areas.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“Canada’s Arctic coast is a vast and dynamically changing area, steeped in culture and tradition. It also provides one of the richest marine mammal habitats in the world. The proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area is an extraordinary demonstration of a serious commitment to ecologically sustainable development in the North, and to continued partnerships with Indigenous peoples: two critical elements that will help protect areas of ecological importance for generations to come. Today on behalf of all Canadians, we express our gratitude to Shell Canada for their generous contribution toward meeting Canada’s ambitious marine protection goals.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
“The Nature Conservancy of Canada is pleased to be able to help facilitate meaningful steps towards achieving Canada’s global marine conservation commitments. Working with government and Shell we are supporting the conservation of an area of uncommon beauty, incredible biodiversity and rich ecological importance.”
John Lounds, President and CEO, Nature Conservancy Canada
“Today’s announcement is an example of what we can achieve when government, industry and environmental organizations come together to find common ground. Contributing our Lancaster Sound permits for marine conservation is one of the ways Shell is working across sectors to balance the environment with the economy.”
Michael Crothers, Shell Canada President and Country Chair
Backgrounder: Canada’s Plan to Reach Marine Conservation Targets
Photo caption: From left to right: The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs; David Miller, President of World Wildlife Fund-Canada; the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change; Michael Crothers, President and Country Chair of Shell Canada Ltd.; John