VANCOUVER — Today’s announcement of a fisheries closure in a large offshore area in the Pacific Ocean off B.C.’s coast is an important milestone on the path to meeting Canada’s commitment to protect more of its marine environment, says the David Suzuki Foundation.

“After years of stagnation, it’s inspiring to see momentum for marine protection in Canada,” said David Suzuki Foundation science projects manager Bill Wareham.“ We welcome the protection of unique marine environments including seamounts, hydrothermal vents and coral structures. These areas are home to a spectacular diversity of marine species on the West Coast.”

The government announced today that approximately 83,000 square kilometres will be closed to commercial and recreational bottom-contact fishing activities in 2017. Proposed amendments to the Oceans Act and the Fisheries Act will provide mechanisms to ensure long term protection for these areas.

Today’s announcement brings Canada closer to meeting international biodiversity conservation commitments, including the responsibility to protect at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020. “Canada has an opportunity to become a world leader in protecting its marine areas,” Wareham said. “We encourage government to aim for more than 10 per cent protection and to ensure that it selects areas of the highest ecological value.”

Canadians overwhelmingly support creating more marine protected areas. According to a World Wildlife Fund poll conducted last year, 98 per cent of Canadians support designating parts of Canada’s oceans as marine protected areas, with more than 60 per cent showing strong support.

“We encourage the government to keep up the pace and to ensure that marine protected areas are long lasting and meet international standards for protection,” Wareham said.

Canada is home to some of the most diverse marine environments and unique marine species in the world and the Pacific West Coast has some of Canada’s richest biological wealth. Retaining that natural wealth to support local livelihoods is one of the most important issues facing B.C.’s coastal communities and today’s announcement is an encouraging sign that the Pacific’s natural wealth will persist to support ecological, cultural, and economic values for future generations.

— 30 —

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Bill Wareham, Science Projects Manager | (604) 928-1150

Theresa Beer, Senior Communications Specialist | (778) 874-3396