Government of Canada protects new marine area off Vancouver Island
September 13, 2018 – Vancouver, British Columbia
The Government of Canada is committed to significantly increasing the amount of nature conserved in Canada. That means establishing new protected areas for oceans, fresh water, and land, from coast to coast to coast for future generations of Canadians. In 2018, the Government of Canada announced the biggest single investment in nature conservation in Canadian history to help reach that goal.
Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Jonathan Wilkinson, announced on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, a significant step toward a new protected area that will support this goal.
The Minister stood with local stakeholders to announce the creation of the Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area, on Canada’s Pacific coast. The Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area is the first to be protected under the Canada Wildlife Act and in close collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, the Province of British Columbia, and stakeholders.
The new 11 546 km2 marine protected area is located off the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, and it is habitat for the islands’ seabirds, species at risk, and other wildlife. With some of the most diverse marine ecosystems on Canada’s Pacific coast, the Scott Islands area provides key ecological breeding and nesting habitat for 40 per cent of British Columbia’s seabirds, including 90 per cent of Canada’s tufted puffins and 95 per cent of Pacific Canada’s common murres.
Minister Wilkinson also welcomed the concurrent announcement by Shell Canada of its intent to voluntarily release almost 50 000 km2 of exploratory permits in the same region. Shell Canada’s Country Chair, Michael Crothers, announced the release of permits in the Queen Charlotte and Tofino basins, which overlap with about one third of the newly designated Scott Islands protected area.
The Government will also provide funding for the management of the Marine National Wildlife Area through Canada’s Natural Legacy fund. From 2018 to 2023, more than $3.2 million will be dedicated to support collaborative management, research, monitoring, and the removal of introduced predators that are harmful to seabirds.
An advisory committee, with technical and science advisory working groups, will also be established to provide advice and input into the development of a management plan for the Marine National Wildlife Area. A final management plan is expected in 2019.
The announcement of the Scott Islands protected area comes on the eve of a G7 meeting in Halifax, where Canada will host environment, oceans, and energy ministers from the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union to discuss protecting the world’s oceans and reducing plastic pollution, among other topics.
“Our Government is taking bold action to protect oceans, nature and the places Canadians love. Protecting the Scott Islands marine area is one more step toward reaching our ambitious goal of significantly increasing the amount of nature conserved in Canada. Together with the provinces, territories and Indigenous Peoples, we can reach this goal and pass on a healthy environment to our kids and grandkids.”
– Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“Canada’s coasts are home to some of the world’s most extraordinary natural beauty and rich ecosystems. Effective protection of our coasts, oceans, and wildlife requires strong partnerships and collaborative efforts on all sides. Our government is pleased to be working with First Nations partners, the Government of British Columbia, and Shell to ensure the Scott Islands remain a thriving hub of biodiversity and marine life for generations to come.”
– Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“We are encouraged by the progress the federal government is making toward its conservation commitments in Canada and are pleased to play a role. We hope that releasing these exploratory permits is a catalyst to create other protected areas in addition to Scott Islands. We look forward to working with government, Indigenous Peoples, and environmental groups on marine conservation efforts.”
– Michael Crothers, President and Country Chair, Shell Canada
The marine area surrounding the Scott Islands provides key foraging habitat for the birds that nest on the islands and attracts an additional 5 to 10 million migratory birds annually, many of which travel vast distances to feed on the abundance of small fish and zooplankton in the area.
The area sustains 90 per cent of Canada’s tufted puffins, 95 per cent of Pacific Canada’s common murres, 50 per cent of the world’s Cassin’s auklets, and 7 per cent of the global population of rhinoceros auklets.
In addition to its importance for seabirds, the marine area around the Scott Islands has been identified as an ecologically and biologically significant area by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for its high marine productivity and diversity of marine mammals and fish species and for the important habitat it provides for several species at risk.
To further support protection and management of the area over the long term, Fisheries and Oceans Canada intends to consult on a Fisheries Act regulation that would restrict fishing activities that are deemed to pose a risk to the conservation objectives of the Marine National Wildlife Area.
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
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