Original language of petition: English
THEREFORE, YOUR PETITIONERS request that the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans work with all relevant government branches to simplify multi-lateral communication and responsibilities on the subject of Marine Protected Areas.
On August 1, 2019, Prime Minister Trudeau announced in Iqaluit, Nunavut that Canada had surpassed its domestic and international target to protect 10 per cent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2020. To date, Canada has established 14 Oceans Act marine protected areas, three national marine conservation areas, one marine national wildlife area, and 59 marine refuges. These marine protected areas, together with marine portions of national parks, national wildlife areas, migratory bird sanctuaries and provincial and territorial protected areas, conserve and protect 13.81 per cent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas. On Canada’s Pacific coast specifically, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has three existing Oceans Act marine protected areas; a marine refuge composed of 17 fisheries closures in the Strait of Georgia and Howe Sound designed to protect fragile glass sponge reefs; and, the offshore pacific seamounts and vents closure, a marine refuge that will form part of the proposed offshore pacific marine protected area.
In November 2019, Prime Minister Trudeau directed the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard to work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to introduce a new ambitious plan to conserve 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2025, working towards 30 per cent by 2030. This plan will necessitate taking a whole-of-government approach to advance the establishment of new marine protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs).
In Canada, the responsibility for marine conservation is shared among federal, provincial, and territorial authorities. Specific responsibilities for marine protected areas are defined by legal authorities held by each department or jurisdiction. Federally, the responsibility for marine protected areas is shared among Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), and the Parks Canada Agency (PCA) and each have distinctive mandates, authorities, and requirements as outlined in legislation and departmental policies.
Coordination among the three federal departments is guided by Canada’s Federal Marine Protected Area Strategy (2005), which clarifies the roles and responsibilities of federal departments and agencies with marine protected area mandates, and describes how these federal authorities can collectively contribute to marine conservation and conservation network development. All three departments work together to select the appropriate federal conservation tool for a particular area.
To ensure that Canada’s suite of conservation tools provides consistent and meaningful levels of protection, on April 25, 2019, Canada introduced new protection standards that prohibit oil and gas activities, mining, dumping, and bottom trawling in all new federal marine protected areas. In OECMs, including marine refuges, economic activities will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that any risks to the area are effectively avoided or mitigated. These standards respond to recommendations made by the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Protection Standards in the fall of 2018.
Federal protection efforts are further coordinated through interdepartmental committees with representation from DFO, ECCC, and PCA, as well as other federal departments with clear interests in marine protected area development and management (e.g., Transport Canada and Natural Resources Canada). In addition, national guidance for the advancement of conservation networks is supported by the National Framework for Canada’s network of marine protected areas, which was jointly developed by a federal-provincial/territorial working group and released in 2011. This national framework presents a vision and strategic direction for the design of conservation networks. The initiation of marine spatial planning processes in Canada presents a significant opportunity to ensure the long-term conservation of biodiversity through the design and implementation of these networks using the existing range of available federal, provincial, and territorial tools.
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