News Release Article from  Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Government of Canada announces concrete action on marine conservation

December 3, 2016 - Cancun, Mexico

Canada is taking action in the conservation and long-term protection of marine biodiversity. At the recent Convention on Biological Diversity at the Conference of the Parties (COP13), the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced a new initiative that will facilitate meeting Canada’s marine conservation targets, and another that demonstrates Canada’s commitment to ensuring the long-term viability of the Sargasso Sea, a globally significant marine ecosystem.

The Minister announced, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the proposed establishment of Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area (NWA), the first under the Canada Wildlife Act. This area is home to over two million seabirds, making it the highest concentration of seabirds as well as the most important nesting and breeding ground for seabirds in British Columbia.

Minister LeBlanc discussed additional ways Canada will achieve meeting its international targets to increase the amount of marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5% by 2017 and 10% by 2020. Canada’s plan consists of advancing work in areas progressing towards establishment, such as the proposed Lancaster Sound National Marine Conservation Area, and several proposed Oceans Act Marine Protected Areas, including Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs, Laurentian Channel and Banc des Américains. The Minister also highlighted progress achieved for the designation of St. Anns Bank for which stakeholder input will be sought in the near future.

Finally, Minister LeBlanc signed the ‘Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea’. The Sargasso Sea, located near Bermuda, provides habitat, spawning areas, migration pathways and feeding ground to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including some endangered and commercially important species.

The Convention focused on actions to ensure the conservation, sustainable use, management, and restoration of biological diversity and ecosystems. While at the Convention, the Minister also continued discussions with his international counterparts on other effective area-based conservation measures and the need for science-based decision making.

Quick Facts

  • Scott Islands contributes to Canada’s plans to protect marine and coastal areas. The nationally and internationally recognized area hosts over 90% of the tufted puffin population in Canada, 50% of the world's population of Cassin's auklets and the second largest population of Steller Sea Lions in the world.
  • The Regulations for the proposed Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area will be pre-published in Canada Gazette Part I later in December, beginning a 30-day public consultation period.
  • Budget 2016 included $123.7 million over five years to support marine conservation activities. This includes the designation of new Marine Protected Areas under the Oceans Act and developing new national parks and National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCAs).


“Conservation and protection of marine environments is important for aquatic biodiversity and the fisheries sector. Our Government is taking concrete steps to reaching our international targets for protecting our marine and coastal areas.  The proposed designation of Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area is a great example of effective ocean management and marine conservation. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has developed science-based guidance to help us determine other effective area-based conservation measures. I look forward to working with my provincial counterparts on these important initiatives, and to hearing the views of Canadians on how the proposed regulations assure the protection of identified key species and habitats.”
- The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“I am delighted that Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area will be the first marine National Wildlife Area in Canada. The area is home to 40% of all breeding seabirds in the Canadian Pacific. I look forward to working with my colleague the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and stakeholders to hear their views on the proposed protections and how they can be improved, not only for sea birds but for other key species and habitats there and elsewhere in the ecosystem.”
- The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada

“The Sargasso Sea is the birthplace of all American and European eels.  We have a regulated eel fishery in the Maritime Provinces, and it’s therefore important that Canada works with other nations in the protection of this unique habitat.  I heartily applaud the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, for leading Canada in becoming a signatory to the Hamilton Declaration in order to collaborate with other nations to preserve this important ecosystem.”
- Senator Wilfred Moore

“I am delighted that Canada will participate in the stewardship of this unique and vitally important marine environment. As a tri-coastal country, Canada has extremely valuable experience that will be a great asset to the Sargasso Sea conservancy effort.”
– Government of Bermuda Minister of the Environment, The Hon. N. Cole Simons, JP, MP.

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For more information:

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Laura Gareau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada


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