Montreal, Que. – On the eve of World Oceans Day and the opening of the G7 in Charlevoix, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Québec Chapter released its 2018 report on marine conservation: “Marine Protected Areas: guidelines for reaching your destination”. In the report, CPAWS highlights the encouraging signals from Quebec and Canadian governments to reach the 2020 international target to protect at least 10% of our ocean and emphasizes the importance of minimum standards for ensuring the quality and effectiveness of marine protected areas (MPA).
Although only 1.3% of Quebec’s marine environment is currently protected, governments have showed determination in recent months to reaching the international 2020 target of 10%. After a 10-year wait, a framework agreement was signed between Quebec and Ottawa concerning the establishment of a network of marine protected areas in the Quebec marine environment. Signature of this agreement opens the way to a real collaboration between all governmental authorities.
“Now that this step has been taken, Quebec and Ottawa are sending encouraging signals that they are actively working on the American Bank MPA project and identifying new sites of interest in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” notes Alain Branchaud, Biologist and Executive Director of CPAWS Québec. “We encourage both levels of government to continue and to accelerate this work in order to achieve these projects quickly.”
Guidelines for effective MPAs
CPAWS Québec notes that many MPAs are ineffective because they are too small, lack adequate protection, or are poorly managed. While the governments of Quebec and Canada are intensifying their efforts, several qualitative criteria need to be respected to ensure that MPAs generate the benefits expected of them, such as regeneration of fish stocks.
“We encourage governments to adopt the scientific target of 30% full protection (without any harvesting activity) for the St. Lawrence Bioregion,” says Alice de Swarte, Conservation and Political Analysis Coordinator at CPAWS Québec. “It sounds ambitious, but it is the minimum we need to reach in order to hopefully reverse the decline of our marine biodiversity.”
MPAs are at the heart of the vitality of our maritime territory
CPAWS Québec calls on governments to put conservation at the heart of their strategies for development in the region. MPAs support the vitality of coastal communities by improving the status of fish stocks and the sustainability of fisheries, and by providing space for strengthening links with nature and tourism development.
“MPAs are the tools of choice for ecologically responsible development worthy of the 21st century. In the St. Lawrence Estuary, where the federal government has recently activated protective measures in Beluga critical habitat, the establishment of new marine protected areas becomes the real solution to resolve conflicts of use and to ensure that economic activities continue in accordance with the laws and regulations now in effect,” concludes Alain Branchaud.
Communications Manager, SNAP Québec
Office: 514-278-7627 #221