June 10, 2005 14:36 ET

Creation of new marine protected areas applauded by WWF-Canada

Attention: Environment Editor, News Editor, Science Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(CCNMatthews - June 10, 2005) - World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF-Canada) welcomes the federal government's announcement today of the final public consultation stage to establish four new marine protected areas (MPAs) off of Canada's Atlantic coast. These candidate MPAs, including Basin Head (Prince Edward Island), Musquash Estuary (New Brunswick), Gilbert Bay (Newfoundland and Labrador) and Eastport (Newfoundland and Labrador), have been under consideration for many years, with strong local support.

"These new MPAs will help preserve critical marine habitat and wildlife in Atlantic Canada," said Dr. Robert Rangeley, Marine Director, Atlantic Region, WWF-Canada. "This is an important contribution to WWF-Canada's long term goal to restore the health of the Northwest Atlantic Ecoregion."

WWF-Canada also urged the federal government to move quickly to protect other Canadian candidate MPAs of global importance, some of which have been under discussion for as many as 25 years. These sites include Bowie Seamount, a globally significant seamount chain off the coast of British Columbia; Western Lake Superior, which would become the largest freshwater reserve in the world; and Iqaliqtuuq, critical habitat for endangered bowhead whales off the coast of Baffin Island in Nunavut.

At the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, Canada committed to completing a national representative network of MPAs by 2012. Following as it does on Wednesday's release of the long-awaited Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy, the protection of these sites represents a step toward completing that goal.

However, the Federal MPA Strategy is still missing targets and timelines to show how and when new candidate sites will be identified and assessed. Without these critical elements in place, WWF-Canada fears that Canada is unlikely to meet its international commitments, and more importantly, may fail to halt the decline in the health of Canada's oceans.

The establishment of these and other MPAs is a critical component in conserving our oceans. In addition to protecting habitat and wildlife, WWF-Canada is working to ensure the sustainability of fisheries and other resources and to reduce pollution. This can be done through moving to ecosystem-based management, good marine-use planning, and ensuring our ocean-dependent industries use world-leading practices.

"WWF-Canada will continue to work with all partners, including industry, local communities, First Nations and the federal and provincial governments, to arrest the decline in the health of our oceans," concluded Rangeley. "We look forward to new MPA announcements in the near future as Canada gets on track to meet its global commitments to marine conservation."
/For further information: Michelle Patterson, Marine Program Director, Pacific Region, WWF-Canada
Tel. 250-624-3705 Cell: 604-312-1740 Email: mpatterson@wwfcanada.org

Josh Laughren, Director, Marine Conservation Program, WWF-Canada
Tel. (416) 484-2708, Cell. 416-577-3131, Email: jlaughren@wwfcanada.org

Contact Information

  • Dr. Robert Rangeley, Marine Program Director, Atlantic Region, World Wildlife Fund Canada
    Primary Phone: 902-482-1105
    Secondary Phone: 902-225-1541
    E-mail: rrangeley@wwfcanada.org