Canada needs to triple ocean protection to protect habitats: report

Group says protection includes banning oil and gas projects, not dumping waste and more

An environmental group says Canada needs to up its game on protecting its oceans.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society says in a report that while there has been progress in recent years, recommendations from international scientific bodies suggest there’s more work to do.

“At least 30 per cent should be protected if we want to ensure all the habitats are protected and that we’re securing the future of healthy oceans,” Sabine Jessen, director of the group’s ocean program, said Monday.

The report says protecting ocean areas includes banning oil, gas or mineral projects, not dumping waste and ruling out bottom-trawling fisheries.

Jessen credits the federal Liberal government for improvements in recent years.

Two years ago, less than one per cent of Canada’s seas were under some form of conservation agreement. That figure has since risen to more than eight per cent.

Jessen suggested Canada is likely to exceed its protection target of 10 per cent by next year, more than meeting its international commitments.

But that goal, part of a multilateral treaty signed by 168 countries, had more to do with politics than science, she said.

“It was based on the fact there was so little protected, but people knew something had to be done,” Jessen said.

“It’s been a good spur to action, but we know that we’re changing the ocean and we really need to protect the places that still have some healthy ecosystems in them.”

She points out groups such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature — one of the largest associations of governments and scientists in the world — suggest greater efforts are needed.

“They had looked at the evidence of what would be needed and they passed a resolution that at least 30 per cent of the ocean should be protected.”

The report says Canada is falling behind many of its international peers. Among the 10 countries with the largest marine economic zones, Canada ranks seventh. The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom all rank higher.

Jessen acknowledges some of those countries have large protected areas off overseas territories. As well, degrees of protection vary.

But the rankings do show what is possible, she said.

The report says Canada could get more than halfway toward the 30 per cent goal simply by completing projects already in the works to protect marine areas.

The report notes that saving Canada’s seas is also good business. It quotes Statistics Canada figures that indicate more than 100,000 Canadian jobs are directly tied to fisheries and nearly 60,000 to ocean ecotourism.

Climate change makes the job even more urgent, Jessen said.

“We’re changing the Earth. We need to protect the Earth.”

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hundreds march against location of safe injection site

A Voice for Our Children opposes centre being near schools, recreation sites

Sarah Simpson Column: Creativity, and smoke, yields two new ‘computers’

My son opted to empty the recycling bin of all its boxes and create stuff.

Arts & Entertainment column: A new book, an art prize, and an AGM

Here are a few of the things happening in Cowichan’s arts and culture scene.

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read