The Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) has awarded new oil and gas leases within the Northeast Newfoundland Slope Conservation Area, one of the largest conservation areas in Canadian waters.
Oceana Canada, a leading ocean advocacy organization, is calling on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to disallow the oil and gas leases awarded within the Northeast Newfoundland Slope Conservation Area.
“The marine refuge was designed to protect vulnerable and slow-growing, corals and sponges that provide important structured habitat for many fish and invertebrate species.” says Robert Rangeley, Director of Science, Oceana Canada. “The fact that the government can disregard these protection measures exclusively for one sector undermines protected area standards and marine biodiversity conservation in Canada.”
Dense aggregations of cold-water corals and sponges live within the Northeast Newfoundland Slope Conservation Area. They are fragile and take many decades to recover when damaged. The importance of corals and sponges for biodiversity in the region led to the Area’s designation as a marine refuge, also known as other effective conservation measure (OECM). This designation currently lacks the regulations needed to prevent destructive industrial activities and all allowable activities are at the discretion of the Minister.
Canada has made conserving marine habitat a priority through committing to protect 10 per cent of our oceans by 2020. “The decision to permit oil and gas activities in OECMs sets a dangerous precedent for marine conservation and calls into question whether all of Canada’s OECMs should be counted towards the government’s conservation targets,” says Rangeley.
Oceana Canada and other conservation groups, including Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, World Wildlife Fund, Ecology Action Centre, Oceans North and Conservation Council of New Brunswick, are calling on the Canadian government to adopt international best practices for marine protected areas as outlined by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This recommendation was also made by Canada’s National Advisory Panel on Marine Protected Area Standards in their final report released in September of 2018.
This week, representatives from Canada are attending the Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity (COP-14) in Egypt to discuss international guidelines for marine protected areas, among other things. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and COP delegates will review the guidelines for OECMs and how they will count towards our international commitments. Canada is currently reporting 7.8 per cent of our oceans protected of the 10 percent Aichi Target 11, of which 4.8 per cent (or 62 per cent of Canada’s total protected marine areas) are OECMs.
For more information, please contact: Kara-Ann Miel, Communications Director, Oceana Canada, 647-535-6326, email@example.com
About Oceana Canada
Oceana Canada is an independent charity and part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with an ocean surface area of 7.1 million square kilometres, or 70 per cent of its landmass. Oceana Canada believes that Canada has a national and global obligation to manage our natural resources responsibly and help ensure a sustainable source of protein for the world’s growing population. Oceana Canada works with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits, and protect our future.