Hope for our oceans and Bill C-55
In June, Parliament enacted Bill C-55, which amends the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act.
Faster protection for important ocean areas
The new laws will now allow the federal government to move quickly to temporarily protect important natural areas until they are turned into permanent Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
This change will ensure that the rare species and critical habitat are secure during the often-lengthy process of consultations and negotiations required before these marine areas are legally protected.
The modernization of the Oceans Act allows for temporary protection for up to five years in places where protection is urgent. The five-year window will give the government time to undertake consultations with provinces, territories, stakeholders, Indigenous communities and the public.
The additional engagement will better inform the final plans for the Marine Protected Area. Once an area of the ocean is declared an MPA it is protected from oil and gas extraction, bottom trawling and dumping.
This legislation also gives federal maritime enforcement agencies greater power to enforce compliance.
Saving habitat over oil and gas development
The amendments to the Canada Petroleum Resources Act provide the federal government with more tools to save marine habitat from harmful industry.
The government will now be able to negotiate the voluntary surrender of a company’s oil and gas interests through Natural Resources Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. The new legislation provides for compensation when interests are canceled due to a Marine Protected Area designation under the Oceans Act.
Great news for ocean life
This legislation marks another positive step in the right direction towards Canada meeting its international commitments for the protection of marine areas of 10% by 2020. At the time of this announcement, Canada protects 8.27%.
Congratulations to Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and his predecessor Dominic LeBlanc for getting this important law enacted.