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Protecting marine biodiversity in Canada: Adaptation options in the face of climate change

  • Published on Oct 22 2008 |
  • This article is tagged as: publications

Due to the growing risk to ocean species from climate change, Canada needs to accelerate action to meet its obligations under international climate and biodiversity agreements to help marine ecosystems adapt, according to a new review of international literature on marine biodiversity and climate published in the journal Biodiversity.

Download the review (PDF, 1MB)
Protecting marine biodiversity in Canada: Adaptation options in the face of climate change by Sarah Patton and CPAWS Marine Program cooridinator Sabine Jessen

In their review, the authors argue that Canada cannot meet its obligations to protect marine biodiversity simply by reducing emissions.  As a signatory to both the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Canada has committed to reducing carbon emissions.  But evidence shows that even meeting targets would be insufficient to stop species from disappearing from our oceans. Therefore, say the authors, Canada must take steps to protect biodiversity.

Some new marine protected areas have been established in recent years, but their size and interconnectivity may be insufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt to climate change.  To minimize losses, say Patton and Jessen, Canada should focus on giving species room to adapt by creating networks of protected areas in our oceans and large freshwater lakes.

In addition to climate change, overfishing and habitat destruction also threaten marine habitats.  The authors argue that Canada must form a comprehensive strategy for marine protected areas to replace the ad-hoc, incremental advances that have so far characterized marine protection in Canada.