Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

October 09, 2007 14:00 ET

Canada's New Government Announces New Activities to Protect the Health of the Oceans

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Oct. 9, 2007) - Today, the Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, announced new activities to significantly improve the health of Canada's oceans as part of Canada's National Water Strategy.

A new federal investment of $42.5 million over three years will fund activities to conserve and protect Canadian oceans. This funding is in addition to the $19.0 million over two years announced in the 2007 Budget, bringing the five-year commitment for the health of the oceans to $61.5 million.

"Today's funding is further proof of our government's commitment to the health of our oceans and protecting our environment," said Minister Hearn. "This investment will strengthen Canada's conservation and protection activities in its three oceans and will ensure they are healthy for the benefit of current users and generations to come."

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will receive $23.2 million to support its valuable protection and conservation work. A few of the key initiatives include, creating four new national Oceans Centres of Expertise, enhancing our spill response capacity and emergency planning in the Arctic Ocean and conducting scientific research for the designation of new marine protected areas.

This new funding will strengthen our ability to prevent, detect and reduce pollution, increase protection for ecologically significant marine areas through nine new marine protected areas, and enhance cooperation with domestic and international partners for more integrated oceans management. The Government of Canada will also be increasing its research and protection activities in Canada's Arctic waters.

Environment Canada also announced an activity under the National Water Strategy today to protect seabirds in the marine waters around the Scott Islands. "The health of our oceans has a huge impact on the health of our environment and Canadians," said the Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment. "The Health of the Oceans initiative is one more way the Government of Canada is taking to demonstrate this Government's commitment to Canadians and their environment."

"As the Prime Minister said this summer, Canada's New Government has a plan to strengthen and realize the vast potential of Canada's North," said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians. "This initiative to ensure the health of the Arctic Ocean, taken together with other leading edge science such as the work being done for International Polar Year, is a clear demonstration of our commitment to this plan."

Indian and Northern Affairs will receive $175,000 to support Canada's role in the Arctic Council's Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment (AMSA) of projected shipping activities and associated environmental, social and economic impacts.

The Government of Canada is funding projects that will improve the health of Canada's three oceans and protect their long-term sustainability. Under the National Water Strategy, Canada will work with its provincial, territorial Aboriginal and international partners to co-operatively manage its marine environment.


BACKGROUNDER

HEALTH OF THE OCEANS

When the Oceans Act was passed in 1997, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) was charged with leading an integrated approach for oceans management and marine protection on behalf of the federal government. DFO's approach was outlined in 2002 in Canada's Ocean Strategy.

More recently, DFO worked with its federal partners to develop a two-year Oceans Action Plan that concluded in the spring of 2007.

The Government of Canada is now announcing new funding for a five-year plan to advance the health of Canada's three oceans. This money will be in addition to the funding that was identified in Budget 2007 as part of the National Water Strategy.

Along with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Environment Canada, and the Parks Canada Agency will all receive a portion of this new money.

Under the Health of the Oceans component of the National Water Strategy, Canada's New Government committed to a number of valuable initiatives along all three of Canada's coasts. These include increasing the scientific and consultative work being carried out to advance a network of marine protected areas, enhancing our pollution prevention and response measures through improved surveillance, enforcement and containment, and providing collaborative opportunities with our partners on ocean and trans-boundary water matters.

With the additional $42.5 million, our government will advance many initiatives now under way, and also fund the creation of new projects to ensure the long-term sustainable health of our oceans. This brings the total funding for the Health of the Oceans to $61.5 million over five years.

During the next five years, progress will be made by the Government of Canada on 22 initiatives focused on protecting and conserving Canada's oceans.

In particular, Canada's New Government recognizes the increasing importance of understanding and exploring the Arctic Ocean as a key to asserting Canada's sovereignty in the North. This initiative will allow us to advance our protection and conservation activities in Arctic waters, which will help us fulfill our overall objectives in the North, articulated by the Prime Minister this summer as: sovereignty, mineral and resources development, environmental protection and Northern governance.


BACKGROUNDER

INITATIVES TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH OF CANADA'S OCEANS

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

New Oceans Centres of Expertise (Coastal, Corals, Data Integration, Traditional Ecological Knowledge)

While Canada's three oceans each possess unique characteristics and ecosystems, there are also certain elements that overlap within the waters. Canada has identified five large ocean areas in which to spearhead integrated planning and management of human activities and conservation measures. The funding will establish four new centres of expertise to better understand selected challenges faced when managing these five areas. These centres will develop national approaches to better protect Canada's deep sea coral and sponges, more effectively incorporate traditional knowledge, develop reports on the health of our oceans, and accelerate the progress in addressing coastal management issues.

Spill Capacity and Emergency Response Strategy- Canadian Coast Guard

As marine shipping in the Arctic continues to grow, it is important our environmental response abilities also expand. This funding will assess Canada's spill response capacity in this emerging new Arctic and will provide the necessary equipment and response systems to ensure the Canadian Coast Guard is properly prepared. The Canadian Coast Guard will identify high risk areas of the Arctic and purchase an appropriate system to enhance their response to oil spills.

Federal Marine Protected Area Strategy Implementation

This initiative is co-funded between Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada and Environment Canada.

Marine Protected Areas have a critical role to play in the conservation and protection of Canada's rich and varied marine environments. The new funding will advance the valuable work being done by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada and Environment Canada to implement a cooperative and collaborative approach for planning, establishing, managing and enforcing a federal network of marine protected areas. The strategy outlines how the departments and agency should work together to develop a comprehensive network of marine protected areas that will conserve and protect Canada's natural and cultural marine resources. Marine Protected Areas have a critical role to play in the conservation and protection of marine life and their habitats. A vital component of achieving this goal will be to ensure that Canadians are aware of and understand the importance of our marine environments.

Development of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Network

While the Government of Canada is making important progress in expanding its network of marine protected areas, there is a need to incorporate the conservation and protection measures that have been or will be put in place by provinces and territories. This will allow Canada to broaden its marine protected network and preserve unique marine areas and species that are ecologically significant and vulnerable. Funding will allow for the important next steps to occur as Canada works with its provincial, territorial, Aboriginal, and environmental non-governmental organizations to build a network of marine protected areas

Marine Protected Areas Establishment

Through this initiative, the number of federal Marine Protected Areas (MPA) will significantly increase in the next five years. This will advance the creation of a federal MPA network and allow Canada to protect ecologically- and biologically-significant areas of its oceans. MPAs are designed to conserve unique areas while promoting responsible oceans development. This funding will advance the designation by DFO of six new marine protected areas within Canada's large oceans management areas and will be used to create a national monitoring and reporting system for all MPAs. The funding will also be used for enforcement and surveillance activities within the marine protected areas.

Ecosystem Science Support and Advice on Health of the Oceans

In order to advance the designation of DFO's six new marine protected areas over the next five years, there needs to be funding for the scientific research. This funding will be used to monitor the current MPAs and determine how well they are meeting their conservation objectives. Guidelines and strategies will be developed in order to evaluate the MPAs and outline possible monitoring programs. Scientific research will be done to determine which areas should be a priority and what indicators should be included when reviewing possible areas.

Collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund

This funding will advance health of the oceans projects within Newfoundland and Labrador. These were outlined in the 2006 DFO/WWF Collaborative agreement and include developing a cold water coral conservation strategy for the region. This strategy will be done in full consultation with all other ocean users. DFO will also use this money to develop joint work plans with WWF for ecosystem management in the Placentia Bay/Grand Banks Large Oceans Management Area. It is important for the federal government to work with its environmental non-governmental partners and to bring a variety of voices to the table.

Arctic Council- Ecosystem Projects

Canada is a member of the Arctic Council and is collaborating with other northern countries to protect the Arctic marine environment from both land-based and sea-based activities. Canada, along with the United States and Norway, has the lead on developing and testing a circumpolar ecosystem-based management approach for the Arctic. The funding will contribute to the identification of a common monitoring strategy in shared and boundary waters. It will also study the socio-economic aspects and governance structures in place in the Arctic.

Gulf of Maine

This funding will allow for the completion of an ecosystem overview and assessment of the trans-boundary waters of the Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Maine. The money will also be used to develop and put in place an agreement between Canada and the United States on shared programs for the management of these waters. A second project, in partnership with Environment Canada, will also be furthered with this new money and will focus on developing a reporting program for coastal and marine management. This will be part of a larger Canada/US ecosystem partnership and will support integrated fisheries and oceans management.

Integrated Oceans Management and Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) Assessment Tools Linkage

This funding will allow for marine environmental assessments to be carried out in a way that examines both project-specific impacts and the possible cumulative effects on marine ecosystems. It will provide more contextual information on the condition and state of the marine resources being assessed. By successfully integrating the assessment tools developed for oceans management with those designed for CEAA, the assessment will be more complete. This new money will also be used to provide support for regional strategic environmental assessment pilot projects. These projects will explore the potential cumulative effects of multiple projects and activities on marine pathways in a given area.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Domestic Studies Supporting the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment and for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Land-based Sources of Pollution

This funding will help address pollution prevention in the Arctic through two related initiatives: The Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment will provide information on Canada's traditional Arctic marine resource use, and social, economic and environmental data to assess current and future impacts of changes to marine traffic. The Regional Program of Action for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (RPA), co-led by Canada and Iceland, will be updated and expanded to reflect international and national developments and be more responsive to emerging issues and opportunities with respect to land-based pollution.

Environment Canada

Working Toward Protective Measures for Seabirds in the Marine Waters Around the Scott Islands

Work will be done to protect foraging areas in the marine waters around the Scott Islands on the Pacific Coast.

The Scott Islands are five uninhabited islands that have some of the most important seabird breeding locations in the world. Over two million seabirds nest there annually and the Islands are inhabited by 12 species of seabirds in globally or nationally significant numbers and the British Columbia government has therefore protected the Islands. Since the Scott Islands' vulnerable ecology has long been of interest to both the Government of Canada and to the Province of British Columbia, both governments have formally committed to close co-operation with regards to the implementation of oceans management in the area. Environment Canada will continue to work collaboratively with B.C., First Nations and other stakeholder groups to ensure that appropriate protective measures are in place for this special area.

http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    Kirsten Ruecker, Media Relations
    604-666-0903
    or
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations
    819-934-8008 or 1-888-908-8008
    or
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
    Media Relations
    819-953-1160