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Canada to Create Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area
Canada's government announced Dec. 5 that it proposes to establish the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area, the first under the Canada Wildlife Act, to safeguard an area that is home to more than 2 million seabirds and the most important nesting and breeding ground for seabirds in British Columbia. Speaking at the Convention on Biological Diversity at the Conference of the Parties, Dominic LeBlanc, minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, also announced a new initiative that will facilitate meeting Canada's marine conservation targets and another that demonstrates Canada's commitment to ensuring the long-term viability of the Sargasso Sea.
"Conservation and protection of marine environments is important for aquatic biodiversity and the fisheries sector. Our government is taking concrete steps to reaching our international targets for protecting our marine and coastal areas," LeBlanc said. "The proposed designation of Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area is a great example of effective ocean management and marine conservation. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has developed science-based guidance to help us determine other effective area-based conservation measures. I look forward to working with my provincial counterparts on these important initiatives, and to hearing the views of Canadians on how the proposed regulations assure the protection of identified key species and habitats."
He discussed additional ways Canada will achieve meeting its international targets to increase the amount of marine and coastal areas that are protected to 5 percent by 2017 and 10 percent by 2020, and he signed the Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea.
The convention focused on actions to ensure the conservation, sustainable use, management, and restoration of biological diversity and ecosystems.
Regulations for the proposed Scott Islands NWA will be pre-published in Canada Gazette Part I later this month, starting a 30-day public consultation period.
"I am delighted that Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area will be the first marine National Wildlife Area in Canada. The area is home to 40 percent of all breeding seabirds in the Canadian Pacific," said Catherine McKenna, minister of Environment and Climate Change. "I look forward to working with my colleague the minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and stakeholders to hear their views on the proposed protections and how they can be improved, not only for seabirds but for other key species and habitats there and elsewhere in the ecosystem."