Canada fails to protect marine biodiversity

Canada has the world’s longest coastline and a total of 7.1 million square kilometres of ocean. But less than 1% of Canada’s oceans is protected. In 160 of the 161 protected areas off the B.C. coast, fishing is still allowed.

An expert-panel report for the Royal Society of Canada concluded that Canada is not doing enough to protect its rich marine biodiversity from the threats of climate change.

The report noted that the Fisheries Act is beset with regulatory conflicts in terms of protecting and exploiting fish stocks, and the minister of fisheries and oceans wields too much discretionary power. The report also says the Species at Risk Act has proven ineffective at protecting and recovering marine species at risk, and a promised national marine protected areas network “remains unfulfilled.” [read full article]

The report urges Canad to be more responsive in addressing warming ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and unsustainable fishing practices.

The report estimates that fish in Canada’s oceans declined in abundance by an average of 52% from 1970 to the mid-1990s and “most commercially fished stocks remain well below conservation target levels.”

Catches are about half those of the late 1980s with the landed value of all fisheries in 2009 almost the lowest price since 1997. [read full article]

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