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CPAWS welcomes good news for Southern Strait of Georgia’s protection

Vancouver - As leader of the Southern Strait of Georgia Marine Conservation Network, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is very pleased to see the commitment today by the federal and provincial governments to the establishment of a national marine conservation area in the southern Strait of Georgia.

“The announcement today by the governments of Canada and British Columbia represents a good step forward in creating more national marine conservation areas in Canada’s precious coastal waters. In June we called on the federal government to create 12 new marine protected areas by the end of 2012. The Southern Strait of Georgia was high on our list, so this is really great news,” says Sabine Jessen, National Manager, Oceans and Great Freshwater Lakes for CPAWS.

The waters of the Southern Strait of Georgia are a source of resources, transportation, recreation and inspiration for millions of humans, and a home to many plants and animals whose health and well-being is intimately connected to our quality of life. Known by Coast Salish peoples as “SQELATES” (meaning “home”), this very special body of water has long been revered for its role in nurturing both human and natural ecosystems.

“This is why after more than 15 years of public consultation and discussions between the two levels of government, the decision to proceed with the Southern Strait of Georgia NMCA, after consultation with local First Nations, is a welcome step,” adds Jessen.

The NMCA will protect about 1400 sq km of ocean surrounding the southern Gulf Islands. It was first proposed for national protection over 40 years ago. While the boundary will be finalized during the next stage of discussions, the area proposed for the NMCA extends from Haro Strait to Gabriola Island and provide protection for a variety of marine life, including the endangered orca.

The goal of CPAWS and other members of the Southern Strait of Georgia Marine Conservation Network is that the NMCA will include the following:

  • A network of ‘no-take’ core areas with buffer zones, as well as, special management zones (such as whale sanctuaries, research-only areas, and eelgrass protection sites).
  • The exclusion of activities harmful to marine ecosystems including bottom trawling, large-scale dredging, dumping, salmon aquaculture and non-renewable resource development.
  • Cooperative management arrangements with First Nations communities.
  • A central role for local communities through a forum that is fully informed on the ecological principles, benefits and site selection criteria pertinent to marine protected area planning and that applies the knowledge base of fishermen, First Nations and other expertise in combination with prevailing MPA selection and evaluation techniques.
  • A boundary extending from Haro Strait to Gabriola Island.
  • Representation of the conservation community and other stakeholders as active participants in the planning process.