Canada-Quebec Collaborative Agreement: Marine Protected Area of Banc-des-Américains will be created
Posted on: June 28, 2018 12:14 pm
Gaspé, Quebec – Today, the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec announced their intention to establish the first joint Marine Protected Area ─ the Banc-des-Américains ─ located off the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula. This will be the first project under the Canada-Quebec Collaborative Agreement to establish a network of marine protected areas in the Estuary and Gulf of the St. Lawrence.
This announcement was made by Isabelle Melançon, Quebec Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment, and the Fight Against Climate Change and the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue and Member of Parliament for Gaspésie ─ Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, on behalf of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
The highly anticipated establishment of the proposed Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Area will be subject to a specific intergovernmental agreement. The new Marine Protected Area will have double status, as an aquatic reserve under Quebec law, and as a Marine Protected Area under the Oceans Act.
The proposed Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Area covers approximately 1,000 km2 off the Gaspé Peninsula between Cap-Gaspé and Cap-d’Espoir where the Gaspé and Chaleur Bay currents meet. This “biological crossroad” is rich in plankton and therefore important for many fish and whale species, some of which are endangered, such as the blue whale and the wolffish.
The Canada-Quebec Collaborative Agreement to establish a network of marine protected areas in the Estuary and Gulf of the St. Lawrence will enable both levels of government to meet their marine conservation targets and to protect biodiversity. The Agreement specifies the principles of collaboration for the creation of marine protected areas in Quebec and the Estuary and Gulf of the St. Lawrence. It also confirms the mandate of the Canada-Quebec Bilateral Group on Marine Protected Areas, created in 2007. The Agreement states that marine protected areas will be selected, planned and implemented jointly, and that the designation of each new area will be subject to an intergovernmental agreement.
Consultations on the areas of interest for potential joint marine protected areas in the Estuary and Gulf of the St. Lawrence will be undertaken in fall 2018. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed areas.
“I welcome this agreement with the Government of Canada to increase the amount of marine protected areas in Quebec and the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The agreement complements the 2018-2030 Quebec Water Strategy, which I had the pleasure of launching yesterday to protect and restore aquatic environments. It is important to maximize our efforts to ensure that Quebec can better adapt to the impacts of climate change. We must act in order to guarantee the quality of the environment for our children and future generations.”
Isabelle Melançon, Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change
“We are committed to jointly pursuing our international targets with a renewed spirit of collaboration. For the Government of Canada, it is important to work with the Government of Quebec to make positive and tangible progress towards conserving our marine and coastal areas through the protection of at least 10% of Canada’s marine environment by 2020.”
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“Oceans are important for our heritage, our culture and our economy. By working together to achieve our objectives, we invite everyone to join us in creating meaningful marine conservation decisions that will benefit both the environment and coastal communities, now and in the future.”
The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue and Member of Parliament for Gaspésie – Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine
“The protection of marine ecosystems and the biodiversity they shelter is an important part of Quebec’s Maritime Strategy. It is also a wise goal in this era of climate change. The people living near our great river, including the Bas-Saint-Laurent, can only be delighted with the Quebec government’s intention, reaffirmed today, to respect its international commitments in this area. I am certain local communities are relieved to see the Banc-des-Américains area being protected, news they have been waiting for a long time.”
Jean D’Amour, Minister for Maritime Affairs and Minister responsible for the Bas-Saint-Laurent region
The Canada-Quebec Bilateral Group on Marine Protected Areas, co-chaired by Quebec’s Minister of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is a collaborative structure that brings together, at the provincial level, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks and the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and, at the federal level, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Parks Canada. This group is mandated to develop and implement conservation projects in the marine environment.
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting 10% of our marine and coastal areas by 2020.
A 30-day public consultation period will begin with the pre-publication of the proposed Regulations for the Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Area in Canada Gazette, Part I, scheduled for June 30, 2018. Public comments will be taken into consideration when finalizing the Regulations that will establish and govern the new Marine Protected Area.
As part of its maritime strategy, the Government of Quebec has committed to protecting at least 10% of the Estuary and the Quebec section of the Gulf of the St. Lawrence by 2020, which represents approximately 14,500 km².
There are two marine protected areas in Quebec: the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park ─ a Canada-Quebec co-management initiative that is celebrating its 20-year anniversary, and the proposed Manicouagan Aquatic Reserve, designated in 2013. These two marine protected areas cover 1,957 km2 or, approximately 1.3% of Quebec’s marine area.
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