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Myth and Madness: Sea god rises to the cause of Marine Protected Areas in Canada

  • Published on Apr 30 2008 |
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Ottawa - The Roman God Neptune will rise from the sea today and arrive at the eternal flame on Parliament Hill at 11 a.m. to dramatically express his desire that our federal leaders protect his threatened home.

With Neptune at her side, Sabine Jessen, CPAWS\' national oceans program manager, will release a major report highlighting the 15-year delay in creating Ottawa\'s promised network of marine protected areas on all three coastlines and in the Great Lakes. Canada has committed under the International Convention on Biological Diversity to establishing a comprehensive network of marine protected areas by 2012.

"We are so far from meeting the 2012 target that we desperately need a hero to make up for lost time," says Jessen. With less than 1 percent of Canadian waters protected, Canada ranks 70th in the world in marine protection. Overfishing and climate change lead the pack of problems facing Canadian waters.

"We need Stephen Harper and Loyola Hearn and John Baird to grab their own tridents and move to save our oceans. Canadian waters are in trouble and Neptune can\'t restore what we have lost. It\'s a tragedy - we\'ve lost cod in the Atlantic and salmon in the Pacific. The orca whales on the Pacific Coast and belugas in the St. Lawrence are among the most polluted marine mammals on the planet. We need to restore and safeguard the faltering health of Canada\'s marine ecosystems," adds Jessen. 

Neptune\'s ancient trident, with powers to both create and destroy marine worlds, exudes great responsibility – much like the responsibility facing our federal government. Canada has the longest coastline in the world and 20 percent of the world\'s freshwater. Our responsibility for marine health is global, not just domestic. 

"Our report shows that we have a hodge-podge approach to marine conservation in Canada, without any clear vision or plan," explains Jessen. "We can\'t wait another 15 years for our national network of marine protected areas to be established.

" This government took a couple of big steps recently by advancing a protected area in northern Lake Superior last year and finalizing one around a BC underwater mountain chain called the Bowie Seamount earlier this month. This is a great start," says Jessen.

CPAWS is calling on the federal government to finally make oceans and marine conservation a priority, starting with finalizing protection for four longstanding candidate marine protected areas: Gwaii Haanas, Tarium Naryutait, Igaliqtuug and Manicouagan Peninsula.

"Worldwide, scientists say our oceans are at a "tipping point". Canada needs to stop teetering on our own protection. It is our great privilege, as Canadians, to be global caretakers of such a magnificent resource and collection of marine wonders. We need to take that responsibility seriously and become global leaders on oceans."



Sabine Jessen: National Manager, Oceans and Great Freshwater Lakes program, CPAWS

604-657-2813 (cell)

Jill Sturdy: CPAWS National Outreach Coordinator (613) 276-7226 (cell) or Ellen Adelberg (613) 569-7226 x 234