Government of Canada is taking concrete actions to protect Canada’s Pacific Coast

News Release

Vancouver, British Columbia -  The Government of Canada is committed to protecting our oceans and marine life for future generations. During his visit to Vancouver this week, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced a suite of initiatives to ensure that our Pacific Coast remains healthy, prosperous and safe for generations to come.

Protecting sensitive marine areas

The Minister announced the establishment of the new Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Area, which will protect large colonies of unique glass sponges estimated to be 9000 years old. The reefs provide refuge, habitat and nursing grounds for many aquatic species such as rockfish, finfish and shellfish. The designation of this Marine Protected Area is a step forward in Canada’s plan to protecting 5% of its marine and coastal areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020.

In addition, the Minister signed, along with provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples and stakeholders, the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) Plan. This Plan will help protect the health of the North Pacific Coast by setting out a framework to manage the marine activities and resources in that area.

Protecting marine mammals

Under the Oceans Protection Plan, the government is taking action to better understand and address the cumulative effects of shipping on marine mammals.

While speaking to stakeholders at the Vancouver Aquarium, the Minister announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will work with a coalition of partners to integrate underwater acoustic data to enhance our knowledge on the impacts of noise on marine mammals and make better decisions on how to mitigate these impacts. The Department is currently concluding an agreement with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to further support this project through the acquisition of hydrophones and other acoustic monitoring technology and systems.

The Minister also announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has launched a science-based review of the effectiveness of current management and recovery actions under way for the southern resident killer whale, the North Atlantic right whale and the St. Lawrence estuary beluga.  The science-based review will be completed this summer and will identify key additional measures and priorities for new or enhanced actions.

Monitoring pollution in our oceans

At the Vancouver Aquarium, the Minister also announced over $1 million in support for two new research projects to monitor contaminants and investigate their impacts in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is providing $399,000 to the Vancouver Aquarium to help implement Pollution Tracker, a new science program that will help identify the sources of contaminants in British Columbia and inform policies and management decisions.

The Vancouver Aquarium is receiving a further $215,000 to study, for the first time, microplastics in the Arctic Ocean and their biological effects on marine life.  An additional $520,000 in in-kind support, such as vessel use, will be provided to assist in the collection of samples.

Increasing the Coast Guard’s capacity

The Minister also highlighted the Government of Canada’s commitment to enhancing the prevention and response capacity of the Canadian Coast Guard. New lifeboat stations, modern equipment, and emergency tow packages are among the measures that will be put in place under the Oceans Protection Plan. The Government of Canada will also be establishing a dedicated Primary Environmental Response Team (PERT) near Port Hardy, B.C.


“Our Government is acting on its commitment to protect our coasts. While visiting beautiful British Columbia, I met with many partners and stakeholders and saw first-hand the accomplishments we can achieve by working together. With these initiatives, as well as other initiatives under the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, I know that we will make great strides in safeguarding our coasts for future generations.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Pollution is a major issue for sea life and human health around the world. The Government’s announcement addresses the urgent need for data on a wide range of pollutants in coastal British Columbia – including hydrocarbons, flame retardants, and heavy metals – as well the emerging issue of plastics in our oceans. This partnership will help us all understand what needs to be done to protect ocean life and human health for future generations.”

Dr. Andrew Day, Executive Director of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Coastal Ocean Research Institute

"This acoustic data project will complement and help expand the work already underway as part of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority led ECHO program.”

Duncan Wilson, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

Quick Facts

  • The initiatives above support objectives outlined in the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan, which was announced in November 2016.
  • The Pollution Tracker project will sample mussels and near-shore sediment along the coast of British Columbia to collect data on a wide range of contaminants such as hydrocarbons, flame retardants, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and microplastics. It is funded under DFO’s Partnership Fund.
  • The Microplastics project will use sophisticated technology to analyze samples of seawater, ice, and zooplankton, as well as the stomach contents of fish and marine mammals, to better understand the distribution and uptake of microplastics in the Arctic. This project is funded under DFO’s National Contaminants Advisory Group.

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Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Laura Gareau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada


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