More ocean needs to be protected, for the sake of marine species and humans: study
DARTMOUTH, N.S. -- A team of researchers from around the world developed a plan that would protect and conserve more than 80 per cent of global habitats for endangered marine species.
These safeguards could have an impact on the fishing industry and climate change crisis around here, says Dalhousie University professor Boris Worm, who co-authored the study, which was published in the journal Nature.
Canada and countries around the world are committed to protecting the ocean -- with a goal of preserving 30 per cent of marine areas by 2030.
"A global protection plan for the ocean could benefit not just species, but also people," said Worm, who is a marine conservation biologist.
The study that suggests the protection of biodiverse areas throughout the ocean would help produce economic benefits, like a healthier supply of seafood and a natural solution to climate change.
Three Canadian priority areas are the central coast of British Columbia, the southern Grand Banks and the Fundian Channel just south of Nova Scotia.
"The Fundian Channel is an important area for biodiversity," Worm said. "It has deep-water corals, a lot of species that go through there. It's also an important area for fisheries, and fisheries in the area have been declining for some time, so this area could really boost production if it was well protected."
Colin Sproul, a fifth-generation fisherman and president of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association says the study is missing two key elements -- the traditional perspectives of commercial fishermen and the ancestral knowledge of Indigenous peoples.
In addition to that, Sproul says: "I think we need to be cognizant of the fact that climate change could very well render any potential marine protected areas obsolete, we see a lot of shift in migration patterns due to climate change in the Atlantic Ocean," he said. "I think what we should be focusing on is what types of fisheries are sustainable and have limited impacts to ecosystems."
Sproul says he would like to see all stakeholders at the table to re-examine possible protected areas.
"What we really want to see is protection of the Scotian Shelf and Georges Bank from seismic testing and from oil drilling," Sproul said. "And if the government wants to get serious about ocean protection in Canada they need to get serious about that first."
However, Worm says protected areas that are well planned and well placed would actually boost fishery production and kick-start the recovery of fish stocks that have been in decline for decades.
Right now, only seven per cent of the world's oceans are protected.
"There's a lot of approaches and I think this is a plan to really have a comprehensive way forward, how we can deliver benefits that will last for generations," Worm said.
Worm says the research shows 30 per cent is the minimum amount of ocean that must be protected to provide multiple benefits to humanity.