VANCOUVER, BC, Coast Salish Territories – Lawyers at West Coast Environmental Law are pleased to see the progress the federal government has made in marine conservation over the past two years, which was highlighted today during an announcement in Victoria.
“The pace of marine conservation has accelerated dramatically since 2015,” said Linda Nowlan, Staff Counsel. “We’ve been delighted to see the designation of three new marine protected areas (MPAs) under Canada’s flagship Oceans Act, as well as ongoing efforts to strengthen that law, which we’ve been participating in over the past year.”
West Coast congratulates the government on its commitment to establish a national advisory panel to advise the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard on minimum standards of protection within MPAs in Canada’s waters.
Strong minimum protection standards will ensure that all MPAs contain real protection from harmful activities such as oil and gas development or damaging fishing practices. This critical issue has been a major focus for West Coast’s work, through publishing briefs, testifying to Parliamentary Committees, holding workshops and symposia, and collaborating on peer-reviewed reports. West Coast is calling on the government to adopt these standards in all its marine protection laws.
“The government’s recognition of the key role of Indigenous peoples in setting up new MPAs is also very welcome,” said Nowlan. “New MPAs will be stronger when they build on Indigenous and local knowledge, and are co-governed with communities that rely on the sea.”
This week’s announcement of revisions to marine mammal regulations is another milestone.
“Marine mammals, and particularly the southern resident killer whales, need so much help. We welcome the government's announcement of regulations to keep boats further away from endangered whales and bring Canada in line with US regulations for the southern residents,” Nowlan added.
Southern resident killer whales face a large number of human-caused threats, including lack of prey, ship strikes, toxic pollution, acoustic disturbance, and potential impacts from the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers project, as the oil tanker route passes directly through their habitat.
“Ocean health continues to decline, and we have an obligation to reverse that course. Today’s announcement is a vital step on the path toward protecting the oceans and marine life that Canadians cherish,” said Nowlan.
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