Find below a letter from Dr. Sylvia Earle, founder of Mission Blue, and Dr. Dan Laffoley, Chair of the Mission Blue Hope Spot Council, to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in Canada urging improvement in the protection of the Scott Islands Hope Spot. Want to add your voice?
Hon. Catherine McKenna
Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada
cc: Caroline Ladanowski, Director, Wildlife Management and Regulatory Affairs Division, Canadian Wildlife Service
Dear Minister McKenna,
Mission Blue congratulates the Canadian Government’s efforts to protect the ecologically significant marine area surrounding the Scott Islands. However, we encourage the Government of Canada to improve the proposed protection measures for the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area, for both the seabirds and for the other marine species that inhabit the waters in this ecosystem.
Mission Blue inspires action to explore and protect the ocean. We do this by building local partnerships and global awareness of special places in the ocean called Hope Spots. The ultimate goal of our efforts is to support the creation of marine protected areas that meaningfully contribute to the long-term health of ocean ecosystems The Scott Islands were designated a Mission Blue Hope Spot in 2013 due to the locations’ critical importance to the health and biodiversity of the global ocean. The Scott Islands are the largest seabird-breeding colony in Pacific Canada and provides an essential habitat for a variety of seabirds. They are home to more than half the global breeding population of Cassin’s Auklets, as well as tufted puffins, albatrosses, sea otters, whales and a host of other species, many of which are of global conservation concern.
Declining biomass and biodiversity of seabirds and other marine species has been linked to commercial fishing, primarily due to oil spills and chemical pollution, noise pollution, bycatch and entanglement, and loss of prey. Consequently, we recommend that the draft regulations for the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area be strengthened to address the impacts of shipping and commercial fishing activities on the marine life of the Scott Islands.
Specifically, we recommend that the precautionary approach, as defined by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) be applied to all current and future activities, until sufficient data are available to demonstrate that there are no negative impacts on seabird populations or marine ecosystems. Furthermore, we recommend protecting key feeding areas and migratory corridors by creating navigation lanes and channels for ships in addition to expanding the proposed boundary to include all known key foraging habitat for seabirds. According to the scientific community, if implemented, these recommendations would likely result in greater biodiversity and generate ample benefits to fisheries.
As Canada’s first marine National Wildlife Area, it is important that this site sets a good precedent. The regulations need to provide meaningful protection to seabirds and the broader ecological values of the area. At present they do not, and therefore the current proposal contradicts the best available science and guidelines on MPA design and management.
As currently proposed, the Scott Islands marine National Wildlife Area would not meet the UN CBD target 11 definition as an “effectively managed” protected area. Strongly protecting the Scott Islands would send a clear signal that Canada is committed to meaningful conservation measures and to meeting the marine conservation targets established under the UN CBD.
We strongly urge Environment and Climate Change Canada to strengthen the proposed regulations in order to adequately the abundant and diverse marine life of the Scott Islands, while there is still hope!
Dr. Sylvia Earle, Founder of Mission Blue
Dr. Dan Laffoley, Chair of Mission Blue Hope Spot Council