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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2021
CPAWS-BC Welcomes Important Step for a New National Marine Conservation Area Reserve
Protected area aims to boost biodiversity and mitigate climate change impacts on coastal communities
Unceded Coast Salish Territory / Vancouver, BC – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – British Columbia (CPAWS-BC) congratulates the Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, and Wuikinuxv First Nations, Parks Canada and Government of BC for formally beginning the process to establish a new National Marine Conservation Area together.
The announcement marks the start of a feasibility assessment for a new marine protected area. The area being assessed covers 14,200 square kilometres of some of BC’s most productive and intact marine ecosystems that border the Great Bear Rainforest, including some of the largest kelp forests in BC.
“The creation of a new National Marine Conservation Area Reserve (NMCAR) off the central coast of BC would protect iconic, important, and vulnerable species, such as herring, salmon, and orcas,” says Ross Jameson, Ocean Conservation Manager for CPAWS-BC.
Today’s important announcement acts on the longstanding and aligned vision between Canada and the partnered First Nations partners to protect nature and safeguard the health of the ocean for generations to come. First Nations on the Central Coast have been stewards of these lands and waters for millennia. Most recently this includes developing world-leading marine-use plans, acting as First Responders to catastrophic oil spills, partnering with the federal and provincial government to develop what will be the world’s largest MPA network, and earlier this week announcing a new Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Recent declines in herring and crab have led to the First Nations taking important steps to protect these species and reduce commercial fishing pressure, to ensure long term sustainability. Marine protected areas, like the proposed NMCAR, have long been recognized as a critical insurance policy for ecosystems and species. MPAs are one of the most effective conservation tools to protect and rebuild populations of marine life. “By removing or reducing all known threats and stressors, MPAs act as refugia for marine life and in doing so improve the long-term health and sustainability of species and habitats that coastal communities and commercial fisheries rely on,” adds Jameson.
The establishment of an NMCAR in the region is yet another investment in the prosperity of the region. Recent studies have shown that by protecting biodiversity and increasing sustainability, marine protected areas can produce a return of $10 for every $1 invested and create thousands of jobs directly and indirectly.
“This NMCAR will benefit both coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them, creating jobs for Indigenous Guardians, increasing recreation and tourism opportunities, rebuilding fisheries, and creating a strong and sustainable conservation economy,” said Jameson.
Canada has committed to protecting 25% of its ocean by 2025, toward 30% by 2030 in line with global scientific recommendations to restore ocean health. Co-governed protected areas, like the proposed NMCAR will play a critical role in achieving these targets in an equitable and just manner.
“This announcement shows great wisdom and fortitude in putting the future of our communities first by furthering important nature commitments. We look forward to working towards a resilient future with Indigenous, provincial, and federal governments by furthering conservation here in BC,” said Jameson.
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The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only charity dedicated to the protection of public land, freshwater and ocean with a strong national and regional presence across the country. Working in a way that respects the sovereignty and leadership of Indigenous nations, we are focused on conserving nature to respond to the dual crises of accelerated biodiversity loss and climate change. With almost 60 years of success, we are Canada’s leader in conservation and have played a lead role in protecting over half a million square kilometers. Our vision is that at least half of land, freshwater and ocean in Canada is permanently protected to sustain nature and people for current and future generations.
The CPAWS British Columbia chapter (CPAWS-BC) works to protect wilderness in every corner of BC and deep into the ocean. We have been defending BC since 1978, and are dedicated to keeping BC’s natural environment thriving forever. Nature is BC’s best hope.
Visit: cpawsbc.org. | Follow: @CPAWSbc