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World Ocean Day sparks interest and concern for ocean health

Derek Fenton helps lead a marine conservation team with Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Fenton spent World Ocean Day, working on a massive floor map that highlights all of the oceans and waterways in North America.

“15 per cent of our oceans has been put into protective areas,” said Fenton. “This showcases to the public all of the areas that have been put in that place by the government and our partners.”

DFO biologist Armand McFarland said the map is a timely teaching tool when it comes to promoting ocean health awareness in Canada.

“It really shows you exactly where you are from, and the watershed that you’re from,” said McFarland, who added, the map outlines the flow of water to the ocean. “You can take someone living in Toronto, they can follow their creek through Lake Ontario, off to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, and to the Atlantic Ocean.”

According to Dalhousie University oceanography professor Anya Waite, oceans influence many aspects of daily life.

“It is an enormously important, controlling the biodiversity of the world,” said Waite, who pointed to the areas of concern that most trouble her the most. “Overfishing and plastic pollution.”

According to Waite, the ocean does a lot of heavy lifting, helping to control the climate, absorbing heat and the carbons produced by humans.

“And it is the ocean that is keeping up safe from climate change. If that shifts, and the ocean ceases to be able to absorb the heat and carbon, we will be even a greater risk than we are right now,” said Waite.

Experts point to World Ocean Day as an opportunity to sound the alarm for the creatures and features of the ocean in peril.

“Coral reefs are starting disappear and we have Right Whales in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence where they never were before, chasing food,” said Oceana Canada executive director Josh Laughren. “Fish are moving north, chasing cooler waters and polar bears are moving north with other arctic species as the ice recedes.”

McFarland will roll the map out on the Halifax Waterfront Saturday morning at 10 o’clock.

“It’s for people to explore and get connected to the ocean,” said McFarland.

McFarland is said it comes at a time when ocean health, biodiversity and ecosystems are all facing extreme dangers. Top Stories

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