Government of Canada identifies large ocean area off the coast of British Columbia for protection
Ottawa, Ontario –The Government of Canada is moving forward on its plan to reach its domestic and international targets of protecting 5% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020 to ensure a healthy environment and economy for current and future generations.
Today, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North – Seymour, Terry Beech, on the behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced a new Area of Interest (AOI) off the coast of British Columbia, with the intention of making it one of Canada’s largest Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2020.
The AOI aims to protect ecologically and biologically significant areas, including underwater seamounts and a series of hydrothermal vents. Fisheries and Oceans Canada identified the area as a priority for protection through a peer-reviewed science advisory process.
The protection of a large ocean area provides a holistic approach to marine conservation, contributing to the protection of several entire ecosystems and unique ocean features, interdependent habitats, and the connectivity between distinct sites in an area not currently under extensive pressure from human activity.
Today’s announcement is the first step towards establishing a new MPA under Canada’s Oceans Act. Once the AOI is identified, final boundaries and activity restrictions for an MPA are established through extensive consultations with provincial and territorial partners, Indigenous Peoples and stakeholders.
An Advisory Committee will be established to gather input from interested and affected parties concerning the creation of the future MPA. This input, along with scientific expertise and traditional ecological knowledge, will contribute to a report to support the development of the conservation objectives and the management measures of the proposed MPA.
The protection of large offshore areas is one component of Canada’s five point plan to reach its marine conservation target of 10% by 2020. The plan includes finishing the work already started in areas progressing towards designation as MPAs, identifying news MPAs to protect areas currently under pressure from human activities, identifying existing and establishing new other effective area-based conservation measures, such as restrictions to fishing to create marine shelters for fish, mammals and their habitat, as well and exploring ways to update the Oceans Act to facilitate the designation process for MPAs.
Photo legend: Parliamentary Secretary Terry Beech explains that new Area of Interest off the coast of British Columbia may become one of Canada’s largest Marine Protected Areas by 2020.
“Our government is pleased to continue our work on protecting our oceans with the identification of a new large Area of Interest in the Pacific Ocean that recognizes the unique marine ecosystems that need to be protected in order to ensure the health of our environment, our communities and Canada’s fishing industry. We look forward to working with the Province of British Columbia, Indigenous Peoples, coastal communities, and stakeholders to determine the best ways to protect this large biologically significant ocean area.”
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“By working together we can protect a large offshore area that includes several entire ecosystems and unique ocean features, interdependent habitats, and the connectivity between distinct sites in a part of the ocean that is not currently under extensive pressure from human activity. It is a lengthy process to designate a Marine Protected Area in Canada, but it’s worthy of our collective efforts.”
Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North – Seymour
The identified AOI represent approximately 140,000 km2 of ocean space, located west of Vancouver Island at the very edge of Canadian waters.
A seamount is an underwater mountain that rises more than 1,000m from the seafloor.
Hydrothermal vents are chimney-like structures that release minerals from the Earth’s crust. Typically, these vents are home to unique species of animals that have adapted to live in the harsh conditions created by the presence of the vents.
Seamounts and hydrothermal vents are ecologically and biologically significant because they support enhanced biological productivity and complex ecosystems made up of a distinctive quantity and variety of species.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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