Press release: Nature Canada applauds protection of the Laurentian Channel and strong new standards for marine protected areas
Ottawa, ON (April 25, 2019) —Nature Canada is applauding the federal government’s announcement that the Laurentian Channel will become an official marine protected area and the adoption of new standards that ensure the Channel— and all MPAs going forward— will have full protection from oil, gas, mining and other harmful industrial activities.
Over 20 species of whales and dolphins travel through the Laurentian Channel, off the coast of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, every year and the channel is a sanctuary for species already at risk like the leatherback sea turtle.
“We’re losing species’ populations at a frightening pace – including fish, turtles, whales and other marine life. One way we can combat this trend is by creating marine protected areas dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and habitat. Real protection means no oil, gas or mining activities in these areas. It’s encouraging to see the government is taking that seriously,” said Gauri Sreenivasan, Nature Canada’s Director of Campaigns.
“Ensuring high-quality protection is equally necessary for other area-based conservation measures, such as marine refuges,” she added. “The government has committed that such areas will not count towards conservation targets if they include industrial activities,”
Public concern for the Laurentian Channel helped spur the government to look more widely at the issue of MPA standards. A National Advisory Panel on the issue was struck in 2018 to bring policy recommendations to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
Nature Canada’s letter writing campaign to ask Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Jonathan Wilkinson to protect the Laurentian Channel demonstrated widespread support for greater marine protections on the East Coast. Over 7730 Canadians wrote to the Minister to ask for a new Marine Protected Area that prohibited oil, gas and mining in the Channel.
A second campaign produced a petition with 3500 signatures, calling for a blanket policy that would ban these harmful industrial activities in all Marine Protected Areas forever. The letter and petition were delivered to the Minister earlier this month.
Today, the Government of Canada has delivered on both of those important asks. The Laurentian Channel announcement brings Canada closer to protecting 10 per cent of its marine area by 2020—now over 8 per cent.
This outcome reflects long-term advocacy efforts by local communities, Indigenous peoples and conservation organizations, including CPAWs, WWF and Ecology Action Centre.
“Canadians are deeply concerned with the threat of species extinction, noted Graham Saul, Executive Director of Nature Canada. “We congratulate the government in protecting wildlife and oceans today, and look forward to collaborating with governments, Indigenous peoples and communities to double protected areas in Canada by 2020.”
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Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. For nearly 80 years, Nature Canada has helped protect more than 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, Nature Canada represents a network comprised of over 95,000 members and supporters and more than 750 nature organizations across the country. (Hyperlink to website in the Nature Canada)