Today, Fin Donnelly, New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans critic and Member of Parliament for New Westminster–Coquitlam & Port Moody, questioned the federal government on their inaction to protect Canada’s oceans.

“Canada is surrounded by three oceans and is home to the world’s longest coastline,” said Donnelly. “The government must do more to preserve our oceans if we are to avoid mass extinctions of marine life.”

Yesterday, an international panel of marine experts released a report warning that the world’s oceans are at a high risk of entering an unprecedented phase of mass extinction of marine species. A combination of human-caused stressors on the world’s oceans including pollution, acidification, climate change, overfishing, habitat destruction, and damage from oil and gas development have created conditions which have significantly impacted ocean health. The speed of this degeneration is faster than expected or previously predicted.

“Canada is lagging far behind in marine and ecosystem conservation,” said Donnelly. “Scientists have told us that the creation of conservation areas can help replenish fish stocks and contribute to a flourishing marine economy. This report should serve as a wake-up call to the Conservative government to take meaningful steps to protect our oceans.”

With cuts of $56.8 million to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans recently announced, questions arise about the government’s ability to act on the recommendations of this report. One of its recommendations is to expand the number of marine protected areas (MPAs). Currently less than one per cent of Canada’s oceans are included in Marine Protected Areas nor has the government established a strategic network of protected areas.

“We are far from reaching our international commitments to protect our oceans. The federal government must take action now and set real timelines if we are to prevent mass extinctions of marine life,” said Donnelly.