Canada’s Chance to Put Ocean Protection at the Heart of Our Economy. Will We Build Back Blue?
Last month, Prime Minister Trudeau and 14 other world leaders came together to put forward new goals for a sustainable ocean economy.
The results of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy emphasize the need to protect and restore ocean ecosystems for the long-term, recognizing a healthy ocean is fundamental for a sustainable ocean economy.
The report also reinforces the need to achieve important conservation targets of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030. Canada previously committed to this target in July of 2020, a move that was well appreciated by Canadian environmental organizations including Nature Canada.
What does this pledge mean for Canada?
Following the release of the panel’s report, Fisheries and Oceans’ Minister Bernadette Jordan announced that Canada will be starting consultations on a domestic blue economic strategy early this year. Nature Canada is calling for a national approach that has the same vision as the international panel: protect effectively, produce sustainably, and prosper equitably.
To achieve this, following through on the pledge to protect 30% of Canadian ocean waters by 2030 must be a cornerstone of our blue economic strategy. We know that the economy and the environment are interlinked. Investments in ocean protection will restore marine ecosystems and create jobs in coastal communities while also having major climate benefits such as enhancing the ocean’s capacity to sequester carbon and building coastlines’ resilience to climate impacts.
We can’t separate healthy ocean ecosystems from a healthy blue economy.
All life on earth depends on a healthy ocean. A future where fish stocks are replenished, coastal communities prosper, and ocean species flourish is possible only if the federal government keeps an integrated approach to the environment and the economy while developing our blue economic strategy.
What does a sustainable ocean economy look like?
In keeping with the vision of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, Canada’s strategy should:
- Commit to protecting and restoring Canada’s ocean environments by following through on the 30% by 2030 ocean conservation target.
- Recognize the role the ocean can have in fighting climate change. Invest in restoring coastal habitat for better resilience, and take advantage of the ocean’s unique abilities to sequester carbon.
- Phase-out climate-incompatible and unsustainable practices. Industrial activities that will lead to climate chaos or ecological damage must be phased out.
- Reduce ocean pollution. Various types and sources need to be curbed. Plastics are threatening species and habitats. Noise pollution is threatening whales and dolphins who use sound to communicate, just to name a few.
- Meaningfully include input from Indigenous governments. First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples have been stewarding and living in connection with the ocean since time immemorial. The strategy should reflect the priorities of coastal Indigenous communities, demonstrating respect for Indigenous rights and a commitment to reconciliation.
Building Back Blue in 2021
The international Ocean Panel’s report sets out a compelling and comprehensive framework for building a better relationship with the ocean as we look to the future. Nature Canada will be following the development of Canada’s blue economic strategy and sharing updates with our networks and supporters.
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