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Taking stock of ocean conservation in the Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy Region

Ocean Protection in Nova Scotia\'s Backyard Lags Far Behind: Study

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA -- This week, three environmental organizations: WWF-Canada, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC), and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS NS), released a study of existing conservation levels in the Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy Region - a "snapshot" of the state of ocean protection in the waters off Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

The study found that the current set of protected areas adds up to only one half of one per cent of the marine environment, and protects only a fraction of the Region\'s habitat types.

"The results are alarming," says Dr. Robert Rangeley, Vice-President Atlantic for WWF-Canada. "We know that marine protected areas make a difference. Global experience has proven that a network of protected areas offers a powerful prescription for ecological and economic health. But while other parts of the world are already seeing the benefits, we are missing out on our best chance to help our oceans recover."

Over the next few months, WWF-Canada, EAC and CPAWS NS will be calling for a dramatic increase in the number of marine protected areas in the coming months, as Fisheries and Oceans Canada launches a public consultation on the selection of one new candidate protected area in the region.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are areas of the ocean designed to protect biodiversity. The benefits of marine protected areas include: more plants and animals per square metre of ocean, a wider range of species, and larger fish that produce more young - which could lead to a rebound of overfished stocks and mean long-term profits for fishing communities.

WWF-Canada, EAC and CPAWS advocate a well-planned network of MPAs that protects ecologically significant areas, preserves the natural flows of species and nutrients, has an impact far beyond its boundaries, and streamlines rules for resource users while boosting opportunities for eco-tourism. Protected area networks are recognized by scientists as the most important tool for helping ecosystems cope with climate change impacts on our oceans.

Shannon Arnold, Marine Coordinator for Halifax\'s Ecology Action Centre, says: "Keeping some of our forests, wetlands and coastal barrens wild and free from intensive industrial use seems like common sense to most people. In Nova Scotia, we even have a legislated commitment to protect 12 per cent of our land base by 2015. But despite the threats they face, conserving our oceans has been an afterthought."

"While we are supportive of any progress, this kind of one-at-a-time protection has been slow, costly, and frustrating for everyone. Even some of the industries that might be affected want to see a more businesslike approach," says Ashley Sprague, Marine Coordinator for CPAWS-NS. "And compared to the level of protection scientists say our oceans need, it\'s simply a drop in the bucket."

Please note: To view the Gap Analysis Report, please visit the following link: