VANCOUVER — A federal government panel looking at Canada’s marine protected areas highlights the need for stronger, more consistent standards and more significant partnerships with Indigenous communities.

The panel report released today notes that Canada should stop allowing industrial activities such as oil and gas exploration, mining, dumping and bottom trawling that contravene accepted international standards within marine protected areas.

“We’re pleased that this expert panel agrees with us that the federal government needs to tighten up regulations and improve consistency with marine protection designations,” said David Suzuki Foundation science projects manager Bill Wareham. “We’re encouraged by their recommendation that we shouldn’t have oil rigs, mining and other heavy industry where we’re hoping to provide refuge for whales, fish, seabirds and other marine life.”

The panel’s report also suggests expanding opportunities for Indigenous co-governance and the designation for Indigenous protected areas. It highlights the opportunity for reconciliation, acknowledging that “Indigenous communities play a central role in marine conservation as rights holders, not stakeholders.”

The panel calls for better planning and consultation to meet the biodiversity conservation goals marine protected areas are designed to address. The panel’s report should lay out a clear course for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and other federal departments to establish world class standards for marine protection.

“The government is committed to meeting international targets to protect 10 per cent of marine areas by 2020,” Wareham said. “The panel confirms our calls to recognize international standards, provide stable long-term funding, assesses current protected areas and resolve the conflict between federal agencies and offshore petroleum boards.”

The National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards heard from Canadians on all three coasts during a six-month consultation from March to September 2018.

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Read the Final Report of the National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards.

For more information or for an interview, please contact:

Bill Wareham, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-928-1150