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CPAWS welcomes federal Oceans Day announcement of new marine protected areas

Ottawa - Today CPAWS welcomes Fisheries and Ocean’s Minister Keith Ashfield’s announcement of the government’s intention to proceed in establishing three new marine protected areas in Eastern Canada.

On Monday, CPAWS challenged the federal government to create 12 new marine protected areas by the end of 2012. “We’re pleased that today’s announcement by Minister Ashfield signals progress towards protecting two of the 12 marine areas we identified – the “American Bank”, also known as the Gaspesie in the Gulf of St Lawrence and St Anns Bank off eastern Nova Scotia,” says  CPAWS oceans conservation manager Sabine Jessen.

Each area is vital to the lifecycle of a wide variety of marine species, many of which are endangered, ranging from Atlantic cod and wolffish to cold water corals. These areas are important breeding grounds, nurseries and refuges for marine life.

Minister Ashfield also announced today that the government would move forward in protecting the Atlantic’s Shediac Valley, located between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in the Northumberland Strait. Shediac Valley is an important spawning and nursery area for Atlantic cod and yellowtail flounder and provides critical habitat for an endangered population of winter skate.  The area is of prime importance for a sustainable lobster fishery.

“With today’s announcement, a period of intensive work will be required to protect all of these areas by the end of 2012. CPAWS is committed to working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans through that process to ensure that local and conservation needs are respected,” adds Jessen.

“With less than 1% of our 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.