Government of Canada

Government of Canada

January 25, 2010 09:57 ET

Sable Island to Be Protected Under Federal Law

Canada and Nova Scotia to work together to create a national park or national wildlife area to permanently protect Sable Island

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 25, 2010) - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada, and the Honourable John MacDonell, Nova Scotia's Minister of Natural Resources, today announced that the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia will take the necessary steps to protect Sable Island as either a national park or a national wildlife area for the benefit of future generations.

"It is with pleasure that I announce the commitment by the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia to permanently protect Sable Island," said Minister Prentice. "The United Nations has declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. What better way to celebrate than by moving ahead with this first concrete step in ensuring the long-lasting protection of Sable Island, a unique ecosystem home to some of the rarest wildlife in Canada."

"The province of Nova Scotia supports the Government of Canada's commitment to secure conservation of Sable Island," said Mr. MacDonell. "Sable Island has long been part of Nova Scotia's history and maritime culture, and we want to ensure that this unique part of our province is preserved and protected."

Following today's announcement, the Ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the steps both governments will take over the next 12 months to legally protect Sable Island under either the Canada National Parks Act or the Canada Wildlife Act. After consulting Aboriginal peoples, the public, stakeholders and others on the recommended option, the governments will then negotiate an appropriate agreement, and finally, designate the area for protection under either the Canada National Parks Act or the Canada Wildlife Act. Both designations would ensure the conservation of the island's special features and wildlife for the benefit of future generations.

Sable Island supports some important wildlife populations including between 150 and 400 wild horses that were introduced shortly after 1738, numerous migrant birds and breeding birds including large numbers of nesting colonial water birds including Herring Gull, Great Black Backed Gulls, and Common Terns. It also supports the world's largest congregation of breeding Grey Seals, along with Harbour Seals. There are many species at risk, including virtually the world's entire population of the vulnerable Ispwich Savannah Sparrow. The Island is 40 kilometres long, and is composed entirely of unconsolidated sand, stabilised primarily by vegetation cover and ocean currents. Its primary habitats are native grassland and mud/sand flats.

The year 2010 marks the 125th anniversary of the creation of Canada's first national park and the world's third protected area, as well as the International Year of Biodiversity, a celebration that brings greater attention to the importance of protecting biodiversity around the world. Today's announcement is a concrete example of the Government of Canada's action to protect Canada's exceptional biodiversity for future generations.

(Release and backgrounder also available on the Internet at under Media Room.)

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    Parks Canada
    National Corporate Communications Branch
    Media Relations