Big step taken in protecting the Strait of Georgia

Ministers’ announcement milestone in creating Conservation Area for Southern Strait

October 13, 2011 

Vancouver – Today’s announcement of an agreement between the Federal and BC Provincial governments regarding seabed rights in the proposed National Marine Conservation Area in the Southern Strait of Georgia was greeted by enthusiastic support by the Georgia Strait Alliance. The announcement by Minister Kent and Minister Lake puts the region one step closer to benefiting from the protection offered by a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA), which could be the foundation to broader marine planning and protection of the Georgia Strait region.

“We have been waiting a long 8 years to see the feasibility study come to an end and we couldn’t be happier about this announcement,” said Christianne Wilhelmson, Executive Director of Georgia Strait Alliance. “With the region under growing pressure, and our southern resident killer whales still under threat, we believe that when this conservation area is created, it will be key to a healthier Strait.”

What is key to the effectiveness of the NMCA is its size and any concerns about this were put to rest today. Initially the study area encompassed approximately 900 square kilometres, from Haro Strait to the waters of Active Pass, southern Trincomali Channel and the south shore of Salt Spring Island, and Saanich Inlet. After a public outcry and based on ecosystem boundaries, it was expanded to a larger area of protection, which includes the area from Haro Strait to Gabriola Passage. Environmental groups, including Georgia Strait Alliance, strongly support the creation of an NMCA that includes the larger area Indeed, this larger area will be boundary around which further consultation with First Nations and communities will take place.

Since 2003, Parks Canada has been conducting a feasibility study to create a NMCA in the southern Strait of Georgia. NMCAs are a form of protection under the National Marine Conservation Areas Act, which was passed in 2002. The Act is intended to protect marine wildlife and habitat by establishing large zoned ocean areas, managed for multiple uses but protected with environmental objectives. 

“Recent polling shows that 70% of British Columbians feel that the Strait of Georgia needs more protection and 75% support the creation of an NMCA in the region,” says Wilhelmson. “Communities care about this region and we are very happy that government is taking action to protect this amazing inland sea.”

Formed in 1990, Georgia Strait Alliance (www.GeorgiaStrait.org) is the only citizens’ group working to protect and restore the marine environment and promote the sustainability of Georgia Strait, its adjoining waters and communities, the place where 70% of British Columbians live, work and play.

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For more information:
Christianne Wilhelmson, Executive Director, office: 604 633 0530, cell: 604 862-7579

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