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Act quickly on MPA recommendations, WWF-Canada urges federal government

Recommendations from national panel include a ban on oil and gas development in marine protected areas

/EIN News/ -- OTTAWA, Oct. 16, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- World Wildlife Fund Canada is keen to see the recommendations in this final report today from the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards pass into law, bringing Canada’s marine protected areas in line with international standards to better protect wildlife from human impacts. 

WWF-Canada also strongly supports the panel’s recommendation to create or amend legislation to allow for the implementation of Indigenous Protected Areas, an important tool for protecting biodiversity while supporting Indigenous self-determination, cultural preservation and economic development. 

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Full implementation of the recommendations by the federal government would mean a ban on activities such as oil and gas development, bottom trawling and seabed mining in of all of Canada’s federal marine protected areas. However, marine refuges – created more quickly through a different process – would, potentially, remain open to these activities. More than half of Canada’s protected marine space, or 4.8 per cent of 7.9 per cent, are refuges rather than marine protected areas. WWF-Canada wants to see harmful activities kept out of marine refuges, too. 

The national panel’s report recommends: 

  • Canada adopt International Union for Conservation of Nature standards for its federal marine protected areas. This means no oil and gas development, mining, dumping or bottom trawling. 
  • Government consultation with Canadians in all ocean regions on marine spatial planning. 
  • Integrating Indigenous knowledge meaningfully into all stages of the process of planning and managing protected areas (both MPAs and marine refuges), as well as supporting the creation and implementation of Indigenous Protected Areas. 
  • The federal government commit to greater transparency in reporting on the assessment and success of marine protected areas and create a central, open database to inform Canadians about marine protection measures. 
  • Allowing marine refuges, or other measures, to offer “flexible approaches” to conservation to accommodate economic development. WWF-Canada is concerned about what this might mean in terms of oil and gas development in marine refuges, which is already occurring

What WWF-Canada would like to see:  

  • Changes to the Oceans Act and the Fisheries Act to ensure the National Panel’s recommendations are formalized and legally enforceable. Other changes may be needed for the National Marine Conservation Act, the Canada Wildlife Act and the Migratory Birds Convention Act. 
  • The cancellation of oil and gas leases inside present and proposed marine protected areas once the panel’s recommendations are adopted. 
  • Clarification of standards for marine refuges, also known as “other effective conservation measures,” to ensure harmful activities are kept out. 
  • More transparency in planning marine protection measures, especially with local communities, Indigenous peoples and stakeholders.  

Sigrid Kuehnemund, WWF-Canada vice-president of ocean conservation, said: 

“World Wildlife Fund Canada is very pleased by the national panel’s strong recommendation that the government of Canada adopt international standards for marine protected areas. It’s up to the federal government now to pass these recommendations into law to ensure harmful activities such as oil and gas development, bottom trawling and seabed mining are kept out of areas set aside for conservation. Establishing stronger laws and regulations for protected areas is the best way to provide clarity for all ocean stakeholders and to ensure that Canada’s marine protection efforts are meaningful.  

“WWF-Canada wants to see the recommendations for marine protected areas extend to marine refuges to ensure these measures provide real protections to habitats and species.  

“We strongly support the creation and implementation of Indigenous Protected Areas and would also like the panel’s recommendations on greater transparency in ocean protection planning to be implemented.” 

WWF-Canada’s role 

WWF-Canada works on marine protection on all three coasts and has worked for decades to keep harmful activities, such as oil and gas development, out of marine protected areas. Recent campaigns saw thousands of Canadians email the Prime Minister to ask for a ban on oil and gas in protected areas, including MPAs and marine refuges.  

About World Wildlife Fund Canada 

WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit wwf.ca. 

WWF-Canada
media@wwfcanada.org

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