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Leading conservation group calls for 12 new marine protected areas by 2012

Ottawa - As Oceans Day 2011 approaches, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is challenging the federal government to establish 12 new marine protected areas by the end of 2012.

“Creating 12 new marine protected areas within the next year and a half is an ambitious but do-able target for the federal government and an important step towards meeting Canada’s international commitment to create a full network of marine protected areas in all of our oceans,” says CPAWS’ Oceans Program Manager Sabine Jessen.


“With less than 1% of its oceans protected, Canada lags far behind other countries in marine conservation.  If we want to ensure healthy oceans and sustain healthy fisheries, Canada has to pick up the pace on conservation,” adds Jessen.

“We’ve identified 12 important marine areas, many of which have long been proposed for protection.  It’s time for the federal government to move ahead  with Aboriginal peoples, provincial and territorial governments, local communities and other partners to protect these by December 2012,” says Jessen.

The 12 marine areas that CPAWS is recommending for protection by 2012 include the Pacific’s Hecate Strait Glass Sponge Reefs, Scott Islands, Southern Strait of Georgia, and Big Eddy. These areas are important habitat for sea life including Tufted Puffins, endangered Orca whales and rockfish.  

In the Atlantic, CPAWS recommends protecting the South Coast Fjords of Newfoundland, the Laurentian Channel, St. Anns Bank off Nova Scotia, and parts of the Bay of Fundy, American Bank (La Gaspesie) and les Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St Lawrence. These marine areas are home to a range of endangered sea life including Leatherback turtles, Right, Blue and Beluga whales, and nurseries for fish including herring, mackerel, flounder and Atlantic cod.  In the North, CPAWS highlights the opportunity to protect the Arctic Ocean’s Lancaster Sound, critical habitat for Narwhal and Bowhead whales, and a biologically rich area in James Bay off Quebec, called Tawich.

“Seven years ago, Canada committed to establish a comprehensive network of marine protected areas by 2012, under the International Convention on Biological Diversity. We clearly won’t make that goal now. But if the government is resolved, there is every reason that it can move ahead to protect the 12 sites we’ve listed before the end of 2012,” adds Jessen.