Southern Strait of Georgia, National Marine Conservation Area
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Renewed Call for Gulf Islands Marine Reserve
Promises for Economic Prosperity & Environmental Conservation Need Followup
CEDAR – “Fourteen years of study and consultation should be enough to finalize a federal-provincial agreement,” according to Laurie Gourlay, president of the Vancouver Island and Coast Conservation Society. “It’s time to honour the promise and declare the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area.”
Planning for the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area began in 2002. In 2011 new boundary announcements by federal and BC Environment Ministers were greeted enthusiastically.
“It’s just a few days after World Oceans Day, and we’re reminded of the many major economic benefits from establishing a National Marine Conservation Area in the waters of the Salish Sea, along Vancouver Island,” says Gourlay. “Revitalization of our fisheries, marine and habitat renewal, waterfront and shoreline restoration would follow – and all offer proven returns to the local economy.”
Canada promised Marine Protected Areas at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit ‘from sea to sea to sea,’ and did so again in 1997, passing a comprehensive Oceans Act that made Canada the envy of all nations.
“But we have yet to live up to that promise,” says Gourlay. “And recent reports have been alarming in terms of species die-off, habitat loss and the consequences that a failure to protect the environment has on our long-term economic and social wellbeing.”
The Vancouver Island and Coast Conservation Society contend that Canada would benefit from protection of the rich habitat and fisheries of the proposed Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area. VICCS argues that a series of pocket marine reserves would foster healthy coastal communities along the west coast of British Columbia and throughout the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.
“Parks Canada began the process of protecting the southern Strait of Georgia over a decade ago,” adds VICCS Director Gillian Butler. “It’s up to those of us who truly appreciate the beauty and diversity of this area to continue to push for it’s protection.”
VICCS is calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Christy Clark to put declaration of the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area onto their priority list this summer, and to sign an agreement by the fall.
“It’s time to reinvest in the jobs and economic prosperity that we all benefit from by replenishing our natural marine environment and coastline,” states Gourlay. “We look forward to working in cooperation and partnership with all levels of government in establishing marine reserves.”
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For more information :
Laurie Gourlay, President, VICCS
Vancouver Island & Coast Conservation Society
P.O. Box 333, Cedar, B.C., V9X 1W1