Photo: Foundation hard at work protecting marine life on two coasts

Left photo: Jackie Hildering
Right photo: ragingwire via Flickr.

By Kealy Doyle

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Imagine you're kayaking through fjords containing some of the
most pristine marine habitats in the world. The ocean beneath you is home to kelp forests, glass sponge reefs, halibut the size of a car hood, and schools of sardines several kilometres wide. Welcome to Canada's Pacific North Coast, an area the Foundation is working hard to protect.

People have travelled and harvested fish in this area for centuries. And although some fish stocks have suffered, the environment is fairly healthy. But there are plans to increase oil tanker traffic, increase container shipping, and expand aquaculture and tourism activities. The question we face is how to allow economic activity without harming the environment, which local people who live and work on these waters depend on.

That's why we're participating in the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) marine use planning initiative. PNCIMA stretches from the north end of Vancouver Island to southeast Alaska. We're working with First Nations and provincial and federal governments on ways to manage and conserve this area.

Now picture yourself whale-watching in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, one of the few places on Earth you can find up to 27,000 species of animals and plants of all shapes and sizes. The water you're on is actually biologically richer than the Caribbean. Besides whalewatching and other recreational activities, the St. Lawrence River system supports coastal communities of all five provinces surrounding it through fishing and tourism.

But the Gulf is also rich in oil and gas deposits, and exploiting them could harm marine life, tourism, and commercial fishing. The Quebec government currently does not allow oil and gas exploitation within its borders, but each province licenses its own waters. Newfoundland might grant its first prospecting licence in the near future.

In response, the Foundation and other partner organizations
that make up the St. Lawrence Coalition launched a campaign to mobilize communities, scientists, and governments to protect the Gulf. On May 5, David Suzuki and CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos called for Gulf residents to unite as the Defenders of the Gulf, and on June 10, our Quebec office launched its first-ever St. Lawrence Action Day, holding community events across the province to teach people about the importance of the river.

FS_summer_11_infographic_small.jpg Designed & illustrated by Sarah Taylor. Download the infographic

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