PNCIMA_Web_final.jpgCleaning Up Our Ocean, a report by the David Suzuki Foundation, Living Oceans Society, Sierra Club BC & CPAWS-BC

Photo: Marine industrial impacts

Pollution is a major threat to marine ecosystems (Credit: Jeffery Young)

Canada is home to one of the world's most scenic and diverse coastlines, containing a wealth of resources and opportunities. These resources have, in some cases, already been extensively exploited. In other cases, industries can continue to expand in a sustainable manner.

In recent years, rather than taking a proactive management approach based on tough regulations and enforcement, the Canadian government has moved to a result based management approach that empowers industry to self-regulate to some degree, and is shifting away from intensive enforcement of conservation oriented regulations.

The federal and provincial governments in Canada have succeeded in protecting some marine resources but in many cases have failed to apply adequate regulations to maintain the ecological integrity of Canada's marine environments. Many marine species continue to decline in abundance and marine pollution continues to escalate.

Laws and regulations at all levels of government are intended to protect marine species and ecosystems, yet the gradual degradation of our marine environment continues. The David Suzuki Foundation has assessed a variety of marine and land-based industries and practices that have a negative impact on marine species and ecosystems. We are evaluating the relevant legislation and possible solutions to these large-scale issues. Some of the more significant activities we've identified include:

  • Foreshore development
  • Sewage
  • Effluent from land-based industries
  • Fisheries
  • Open-net-pen aquaculture
  • Shellfish aquaculture
  • Shipping

The many indications that Canada's marine habitats are in trouble include declining fish populations, growing numbers of species at risk and increasing instances of shellfish closures. With Canada's population expected to steadily rise, and with much of that growth occurring in coastal regions, the pressures on our marine ecosystems and resources will increase.

As we continue to look to the world's oceans to provide food, transportation and other resources, we must determine whether or not it is possible to maintain or expand ocean-resource extraction and utilization in a manner that will leave a healthy, productive ecosystem for future generations.

The challenge to protect and manage our amazing coastline and marine environments is large and complex. However, if we do not meet this challenge, the short- and long-term consequences will be dire for B.C.'s coastal communities, for marine-resource industries and for the ecosystem that supports them.

For more detailed information of current industrial activities in the PNCIMA, read this report from Fisheries & Oceans Canada