Ottawa not doing enough for coastal waters, says report

  • Oct. 31, 2008 4:00 p.m.

A recent report highlighting the diversity of the Pacific Northwest Coast says the federal government has failed to efficiently manage BC’s coastal waters.The report, titled BC’s Bountiful Sea: A Heritage Worth Preserving, was released September 17 by the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club BC, the Living Oceans Society and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. It calls on Ottawa to establish integrated management plans and marine protected areas in the 88,000 square km region called the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA). Cited as one of the top five priority coastal regions in Canada, PNCIMA stretches from southern Alaska to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and includes the waters around the Charlottes. Bill Wareham, senior conservation specialist for the David Suzuki Foundation said “if we hope to continue to enjoy the social and economic benefits that the ocean provides, governments need to engage in a thoughtful conservation planning process that will ensure healthy ocean environments for the future.” With the Canada Oceans Act (1997), the Oceans Strategy (2002), and the Oceans Action Plan (2005), the federal government committed to a new approach for managing Canada’s oceans. It’s based on “managing activities in a way that reflects the interconnectedness of the ocean environment.for the benefit of all Canadians”, according to DFO. Despite this recognition, the federal government has done little to enhance the management of PNCIMA, says the report. The 28-page report, meant to spark discussion, offers an overview of the ocean’s bounty and benefits, with Mr. Wareham inviting “all political parties.to commit to a greater investment in ocean management and conservation.” The new government must give coastal residents the opportunity to build a management plan that ensures healthy ecosystems, said Jennifer Lash of the Living Oceans Society. The full report is available at www.davidsuzuki.org/Publications/Bountiful_Sea.asp. See also a map at www.livingoceans.org/programs/marine_planning/pncima.aspx.

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