Stories from our oceans

Our Purpose

Canada’s coastal communities flourish when fish, whales and sea life thrive. But less than 10% of Canada’s oceans are protected and some marine protected areas allow damaging activities like drilling and bottom-trawling.

The federal government has promised to protect 10% of Canada’s oceans by 2020. Let’s make sure they reach that goal with marine protected areas that ban oil and gas, mining, bottom trawling, open net pen aquaculture and tidal turbines in ecologically-rich marine protected areas.

SeaBlue is a movement of Canadians holding government accountable for protecting our oceans and the fragile sea life that lives there.

SeaBlue Canada is a collaboration of six organizations with a combined 225 years of protecting Canada’s land and water. We are Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre, Oceans North, WWF Canada, and West Coast Environmental Law.

We’re working together to ensure Canada protects its oceans, both for our grandchildren and for the sea life we depend on.

Join us as we work towards 2020 and defending places where marine life can thrive!

 

Photograph courtesy of Nick Hawkins

Canada’s marine refuges need an upgrade

A new report from SeaBlue Canada reveals that more than half of Canada’s marine refuges, a form of marine protected area in Canada, do not meet international standards.

Oil and gas exploration in protected areas

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board recently announced that it would open up new areas for allow oil and gas exploration in the Northeast Newfoundland Slope

MPA Networks offer a better way to protect whole ecosystems

In an attempt to better manage the overall health of Canada’s coastlines, the Government of Canada is working with stakeholders to build networks of Marine Protected Areas.

The federal government says it has protected almost 8% of Canada’s oceans. Here’s why its math is questionable

Canada is making rapid progress in meeting its pledge to protect at least 10 per cent of its marine and coastal areas by 2020. But conservation advocates question the federal government’s math.

Delivering effective conservation action through MPAs, to secure ocean health & sustainable development

Canada’s ocean protection ripple could become a wave. Now that Canada is finally creating marine protected areas, let’s work hard to get it right.

Applying IUCN’s Global Conservation Standards to Marine Protected Areas

Delivering effective conservation action through MPAs, to secure ocean health & sustainable development

Canada’s marine refuges need an upgrade, says new SeaBlue Canada report

Photo: Nick Hawkins

HALIFAX, January 22, 2019 A new report from SeaBlue Canada reveals that more than half of Canada’s marine refuges, a form of marine protected area in Canada, do not meet international standards. While Canada has made significant progress to protect its marine and coastal environment, the report shows stronger standards are required to effectively conserve biodiversity.

Since 2015, Canada has designated 7.9 per cent of the ocean as protected areas. However, with more than half of that protected under Fisheries Act measures areas referred to as marine refuges many harmful industrial practices can still continue. Fisheries Act measures restrict fishing impacts and some other harmful activities but cannot protect against many other significant threats to the marine environment.

“We want to ensure that Canada’s efforts to protect marine wildlife are meaningful and effectively preserve biodiversity and habitats,” says Susanna Fuller of Oceans North, a co-author of the report. “Right now, there are several areas where improvements need to be made and we urge decision-makers take our recommendations seriously.”

Using publicly available information, the report reviewed all 51 areas protected through the Fisheries Act and assessed how these areas met criteria set out by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as well as guidance recently adopted at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to which Canada is a signatory. Meeting CBD criteria determines if sites can count as “protected” at an international level. Canada has committed to revisiting its marine refuges following the adoption of international guidance.

The majority of current fisheries closures prohibit all bottom fishing activities and have been put in place to protect fragile sponge and coral communities. Some were designed to protect a single species or prohibit only a single type of fishing gear.

“When assessed according to new international guidelines, only 40 per cent of the total area closed under the Fisheries Act met this guidance,” says Travis Aten, lead author of the report. “The remaining 60 per cent need a variety of improvements to meet globally accepted standards, and we provide specific recommendations for these improvements.”

“The bulk of Canada’s protected ocean areas, known as marine refuges, are at risk from oil and gas exploration and development,” says Sigrid Kuehnemund, vice president of oceans conservation at WWF-Canada. “These activities cannot be prohibited by the Fisheries Act, and as a result, supposedly protected sensitive habitats remain vulnerable to oil and gas impacts such as disturbance of the seabed, exposure to drill muds and of potential oil spills. We need minimum standards for all protected ocean areas. Biodiversity depends on it.”

The fishing industry has worked with government and conservation organizations to set aside areas for protection. SeaBlue Canada recommends that in order to maintain the trust of the fishing industry and Canadians, it is imperative these areas be protected from other industrial activities that threaten fish and fish habitat, including oil and gas.

Major recommendations of the report include:

  • Update national guidance to align with international standards, particularly as Canada can set an example for other countries by improving marine refuges to more fully align with international standards.
  • Pass the amended Fisheries Act, currently in second reading at the Senate of Canada, to ensure these areas become permanently protected through ecologically special areas provisions.
  • Clearly identify monitoring and management for each marine refuge to ensure biodiversity is being effectively conserved.
  • Smaller areas that only protect a single species should be removed from consideration as marine refuges when they do not contribute to the overall protection of biodiversity, despite being important fisheries management measures.
  • Review the Atlantic Offshore Accord Agreements so that oil and gas exploration and development is restricted from areas closed to protect fish and fish habitat.

A report summary is also available.

About SeaBlue Canada

SeaBlue Canada is a coalition of six national conservation organizations including Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre, Oceans North, West Coast Environmental Law, and World Wildlife Fund Canada. Together, they are working to ensure that Canada’s marine and coastal protected areas are well protected and set an example for ocean conservation globally.

 

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For more information contact:

Susanna Fuller, Senior Project Manager, Oceans North

susannafuller@oceansnorth.ca

902-483-5033

 

Antonella Lombardi, communications specialist, WWF-Canada

alombardi@wwfcanada.org 647-668-4613

 

Photos: Nick Hawkins

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…and Canadians–from Clayoquot Sound to Cape Spear– who are on a mission to protect places where marine life can thrive.

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