CURRENT FINDINGS IN BC: Could Stopping Biodiversity Loss Be The Answer To All Our Problems?
June 8, 2016
This is a timely post, as today, June 8th, is World Oceans Day!
By Michaela Montaner – Pacific Wild
Photos by Ian McAllister
As habitat destruction continues in and around the otherwise pristine Great Bear Rainforest, our challenge at Pacific Wild is to show that halting biodiversity loss is the winning move – not scaling up oil, gas, forestry, or commercial fishery operations.
‰Û_ and not just for wildlife, but for people and economies too.
A bastion of biodiversity, the GBR is a resilient home to an abundance of thriving animals, plants, and peoples. It’s simple: biodiversity fuels the strength, richness, survival, and well-being of the ecosystems, cultures, and economies connected to it. These economies are poised to be incredibly successful for decades to come if they are chosen thoughtfully and developed sustainably.
Smart economics will involve land and marine use planning that focuses on protecting biodiversity. This will have the inevitable effect of securing us a future with the GBR intact and doing its part to support thriving coastal economies and a healthy global climate. The opposite – pressuring land and marine use planning to contort itself to make unsustainable industrial operations “okay” by ecological standards – does no one any favours. It undermines the viability of the projects themselves, makes more sustainable projects appear non-competitive, and, often, presents a short-term solution to local economic challenges with untold consequences. This is not rocket science.
Trudeau’s Got Our Back, Right?
In the wake of the (lightly put) imperfect, land-focused Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, one of the most promising big picture opportunities for the GBR is a large-scale network of marine protected areas (MPAs). Under the International Convention on Biodiversity’s Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets – which was celebrated around the world on May 22 – Canada has committed to protecting 10% of its ocean estate by 2020.
Until recently, the Canadian government was actively avoiding this commitment, but with last year’s change in government, there’s reason to be optimistic MPAs could be coming to the coast — and soon.
Thankfully, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Hunter Tootoo, has committed to advancing an ambitious campaign to protect 10% of Canada’s ocean estate by 2020. (This is especially good news, because the 2016 Great Bear Rainforest Agreement B.C. Premier Christy Clark announced earlier this year did absolutely nothing for the Great Bear Sea.) Though a plan has yet to materialize from Tootoo, recently there has been speculation he will signal how the government plans to move forward with the process of designating specific areas for protection leading up to World Oceans Day on June 8.
We’re optimistic Minister Tootoo with support from Minister McKenna, Minister Garneau, and PM Trudeau, will come through for the coast, but we’re not holding our breath.
With their legislated tanker ban in Great Bear Sea still pending; their failing to shut down widely opposed LNG proposals in the area; and having yet to join the B.C. regional marine planning processes the Harper Government actively boycotted, whether we can count on this government for decisive, large-scale environmental protections throughout the GBR is uncertain.
The Path Forward
We’re eagerly waiting for Canada’s plan to meet what we’ve coined the #10by2020 objective. In the meantime, we’re working with Sea Legacy and partners up and down the coast to show the world what is at stake for coast, climate, and commerce alike.
As soon as we have details on Tootoo’s plan forward, we’ll be updating our own. To be kept in the loop, click here.
The thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (#COP13) will happen in Cancun, Mexico this December 4-17. Participating government will be expected to give updates on the #10by2020 objective and what else they are doing to protect and advance biodiversity within and across sectors.
We hope Canada will make us proud.
*re-posted with permission from Pacific Wild
Keep up with the campaign to protect the Great Bear Sea. This one lives on Instagram, with new images and facts for you to explore and share added almost daily to the hashtag #10by2020. Follow @PacificWild for more.
Donate. Protecting the Great Bear Sea is no small feat. Help us get the campaign off the ground by chipping in 5, 50, or 500 dollars here.