It’s official–Canada is going to be protecting a huge swathe of B.C.’s west coast from threats like industrial extraction, bottom dragging, and poaching with the guidance of coastal communities and First Nations who’ve lived here for thousands of years.
“After so much hard work by so many, I am pleased to announce that we now have a blueprint for a vast network of marine protected areas,” federal fisheries minister Joyce Murray said this weekend at the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress in Vancouver known as IMPAC5.
The network will extend “from the top of Vancouver Island all the way to the Canadian and American border near Alaska,” she explained.
It will cover nearly 30,500 square kilometres and will help reverse the “worrying deterioration and declines” of fish-producing habitats up and down the coast, according to a summary of the plan.
“The area we’re talking about here today is I think unique and precious to the world,” said BC Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship Nathan Cullen. He called today’s announcement “truly a landmark achievement.”
That enthusiasm was echoed by Danielle Shaw, Chief Councillor of the Wuikinuxv Nation, who described the federal government’s endorsement of the plan as a “monumental moment in history” that will “support the revitalization of fish stocks, wildlife populations, and the habitats they rely on.”
“We all have a lot of work to do,” said Coastal First Nations CEO Christine Smith-Martin. “This is just the beginning.”