Statement by the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc on World Oceans Day
OTTAWA – With the longest coastline in the world, the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans have been part of Canadians’ way of life for centuries, and they have helped to build Canada’s history and sustain our economy over generations. We all want our oceans to remain productive, sustainable, and able to support healthy marine ecosystems and coastal communities. As Canada’s Oceans Minister, these are priorities for me, and this Oceans Day is an opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments and recommit to the continued protection of our oceans.
Together, we are the guardians of our fisheries, our oceans and all of our natural environment. That’s why in February of this year, our government introduced proposed changes to the Fisheries Act that will restore protections for fish and fish habitat that were lost under the previous government. I am proud that we are not only moving to restore these protections, but also to incorporate modern safeguards—moving forward with an even stronger Fisheries Act for the future. Our proposed amendments would provide new tools to conserve and protect important species and ecosystems, and measures to help rebuild depleted fish stocks and to restore marine habitat.
In 2015, we promised to protect 5% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas—and we delivered. Today, 7.75% of our oceans are now protected, up from less than 1% only three years ago. We have also introduced legislation that will allow us to put a freeze on increased activity in our oceans while we carry out the process of designating Marine Protected Areas. Canada will continue to take a leadership role on marine conservation, and we will keep working to meet our target of 10% protection by 2020.
We are already seeing far-reaching benefits for coastal communities and Indigenous Peoples on all three coasts from our historic, $1.5-billion Oceans Protections Plan, which helps us work together with all Canadians and international stakeholders to make our oceans cleaner, safer and healthier. Through the Oceans Protection Plan, we are strengthening the Canadian Coast Guard with new equipment and more capacity to protect mariners and our ocean environment. We are collaborating with coastal and Indigenous communities to enhance marine safety through new boats and equipment, and through training that helps local community members enhance the important role they already play in marine safety.
We’re taking a collaborative approach at the international level, too, working with our international partners to sustain our oceans and our marine environments.
The threats to our oceans are global in nature and demand a global response. That’s why it’s so fitting that this year’s World Oceans Day also marks the beginning of the G7 Leader’s Summit. Under Canada’s Presidency, one of the themes will focus on healthy oceans. We’re talking to our international partners about how we can enhance our knowledge of the state of the world’s oceans, address Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, enhance global oceans protection and governance, and build the world’s coastal communities’ resilience to extreme weather events and the effects of climate change.
I believe that, by working together, we can protect our oceans for generations to come, and Canada stands ready to be a global leader in tackling the challenges ahead.
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, M.P., Q.C., P.C.
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
– 30 –
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada