B.C. waters now home to Canada's largest marine protected area | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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B.C. waters now home to Canada's largest marine protected area

Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Diane Lebouthillier, right, speaks during a news conference as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens in Vancouver on June 25, 2024. First Nations along British Columbia's coast have announced with the Canadian government the designation of the country's largest marine protected area. A statement issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada says the ecologically unique ocean area is located about 150 kilometres of the west coast of Vancouver Island. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

VANCOUVER - First Nations along British Columbia's coast have announced with the Canadian government the designation of the country's largest marine protected area.

A statement from Fisheries and Oceans Canada says the ecologically unique ocean area is located about 150 kilometres off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

It says the area spanning more than 133,000 square kilometres covers "extraordinary seafloor features," including more than 47 underwater mountains, known as seamounts, and all of the confirmed hydrothermal vents in Canada.

The department says the deep-sea vents are "biological hotpots" that support rare and unique species that are both "remarkable and culturally important."

The new designation makes it the largest marine protected area to be recognized under Canada's Oceans Act in partnership with the Council of the Haida Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Pacheedaht First Nation and Quatsino First Nation.

Fisheries and Oceans says the area was first identified for protection in May 2017, leading to measures preventing bottom-contact fishing activities.

In 2023, the First Nations and the Canadian government signed a memorandum of understanding on how to collaboratively manage the new protected area.

The name of the area, Tang.Gwan — hacxwiqak — Tsigis, consists of a Haida word meaning deep ocean, a Pacheedaht word meaning deepest part of the ocean and a Quatsino word referring to a monster of the deep, the department says.

"Today we are taking a giant step forward in protecting Canada's oceans," Fisheries and Oceans Minister Diane Lebouthillier wrote in a statement Thursday.

"The designation of this MPA brings us halfway to our goal of conserving 30 percent of our oceans by 2030."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 11, 2024.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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