New Marine Protected Areas report card gives Canada a gailing grade
Canada lagging behind Australia and the United States
Vancouver, B.C. – Canada has the legislation and policy in place, but its dismal record on implementing a comprehensive network of marine protected areas (MPAs) earns it a failing grade compared to other countries in its class. This from a progress report card released today by the Living Oceans Society, the David Suzuki Foundation and Sierra Club BC illustrating Canada’s poor performance on protecting ocean environments.
Because less than 0.5 per cent of Canada’s ocean area is protected, the report card Canada takes home is no reason to celebrate World Oceans Day on June 8th. Congratulations for Canada’s efforts might come after it changes its behaviour, learns from its classmates and starts doing its homework, according to these three groups.
“Canada has the smallest area of ocean protected, has invested the least financial resources, and has done little to ensure that representative regions of Canada’s marine waters are safeguarded,” says Kate Willis Ladell, Marine Planning and Protected Areas Campaign Manager for Living Oceans Society. “Canada has successfully created the necessary legislation and policies, but they’re not worth very much if they’re not applied,” says Ladell.
Australia and the US, whose total areas of federally designated MPAs are 32 and 16 times larger than Canada’s respectively, received passing grades. Australia also received a gold star for using marine planning processes to deliver a significant number of marine protected areas in a timely way that fully respects the people who use the ocean.
“This kind of comprehensive marine use planning is the only way to establish a network of marine protected areas that’s both effective and timely,” says Colin Campbell, Marine Campaign Coordinator for the Sierra Club British Columbia. “Canada has committed to a marine planning process on all three coasts but unlike the United States or Australia, Canada has failed to commit enough money to make this a reality.”
Living Oceans Society, Sierra Club BC, and the David Suzuki Foundation are calling on the government to immediately launch comprehensive and well-resourced marine planning processes designed to establish networks of MPAs throughout Canada’s oceans. These processes should include clear and measurable timelines and targets for MPA establishment.
“Canada has good intentions and good policy and tries hard, but in the final assessment, its performance is poor. Canada needs to spend more time and effort actually delivering results, designating MPAs and conservation plans at a much more rapid pace.” says Bill Wareham, Senior Marine Conservation Specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation.
Marine protected areas protect sensitive and vulnerable marine ecosystems and the creatures that live within their boundaries. There is strong scientific consensus that MPAs with strict conservation regulations are a highly effective yet under-utilized tool to alleviate the global decline in marine ecosystem health.