Canada’s Ocean Playground may soon have three new marine conservation areas.
The federal Fisheries Department announced the proposed trio of Atlantic Ocean sites off the coast of Nova Scotia today, saying the move supports Ottawa’s commitment to protect 10 per cent of Canadian waters by 2020.
The department says the Eastern Shore Islands southeast of Halifax and the Fundian Channel-Browns Bank area on the Scotian Shelf have been identified as areas of interest for future designation as marine protected areas.
The department says a third area – a 36,000-square-kilometre swath of ocean east off Sable Island called the Eastern Canyons – has been put forward as a new conservation area under the Fisheries Act.
Megan Leslie, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund Canada, welcomed the new conservation areas.
“Healthy oceans depend not just on disparate protected sites, but on a network of marine protected areas,” Leslie said in a statement.
“WWF-Canada will continue to push nationally for a network of marine protected areas with high protection standards, including a ban on oil and gas activities within all protected areas.”
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Chris Miller, executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s Nova Scotia chapter, says the new conservation areas will help protect marine biodiversity in oceans that are under stress from climate change, pollution and over-exploitation.
He says Ottawa should ban heavy industrial activities in the proposed areas, including oil and gas exploration and development, aquaculture and bottom trawling fishing.
But Miller says lower impact fishing, such as lobster fishing along the eastern shore, should be accommodated to balance conservation with existing inshore fishing activities.