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Canada Bans Oil, Gas Drilling In Marine Protected Areas

Canada announced on Thursday that it is banning oil and gas drilling in federal marine protected areas, in a move to take action to protect the oceans.

Until now, Canada would review and assess whether to allow economic activities in marine protected areas on a case-by-case basis. Under the new standards for conservation and protection of the oceans, Canada will now have a total ban on oil and gas activities, mining, dumping, and bottom trawling in marine protected areas.

The Canadian Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans has applied recommendations that an independent National Advisory Panel issued in a report in September last year.

With regard to other forms of conservation measures such as marine refuges, economic activities in those areas will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Such activities will be allowed if they are consistent with the conservation objectives of a specific marine refuge area, and proposed industrial activities in marine refuges will continue to be subject to Canada’s environmental assessment rules, the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans said.

“Canadians expect us to take action to protect unique ocean ecosystems while ensuring coastal communities thrive. The new standards for marine conservation we are announcing today will provide for high levels of environmental protection in a manner that is sensitive to important economic actors such as fish harvesters,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Canada has a goal to achieve its international marine conservation target to have 10 percent of its ocean and coastal territories protected by 2020. Today’s announcement brings Canada’s protected ocean areas to 8.27 percent.

“This important first step in protecting critical habitats will give marine species safe havens that are free of seismic blasting and drilling,” Megan Leslie, WWF-Canada president and CEO, said in a statement, commenting on the Canadian government’s announcement.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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