Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard
Mediaplanet spoke with Canada’s Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard on how to capitalize on Canada’s blue economy opportunities.
Canada is a vast country touching three oceans. What does this mean for people living and working by the changing tides?
Canadians can forget that Canada is an ocean nation. We have the longest coastline in the world. Combined, our ocean industries generate over $30 billion a year, yet that’s only about 1% of our GDP. That’s why our government is developing a Blue Economy Strategy—a plan to get more Canadians working sustainably on and in the water.
What actions will the Government of Canada’s new Blue Economy Strategy aim to take? How will it impact the growth and success of Canada’s Blue Economy?
Just as Canada needs a climate plan to get to net-zero, we need a Blue Economy Strategy to make our ocean industries more sustainable, productive, and prosperous. Our last ocean strategy was released in 2002. There have been huge strides in innovation, technology, and sustainability since then. We’re bringing these resources together to consciously create more job opportunities and revenue in our coastal and rural communities.
Water is a vital part of the Canadian environment. What is being done to ensure the preservation of Canada’s marine ecosystems?
When we formed government in 2015, less than 1% of Canada’s ocean territory was protected. Now, nearly 14% is, and we’re on track to reach our new target of 25% by 2025. Work on more marine protected areas is underway off all three of Canada’s coasts.
Protection means more prosperity in the long-term. Using science and technology, we can now determine which activities are harmful, and which can co-exist with certain ecosystems. And we keep developing better, more sustainable ways to work in our ocean environments.
A blue economy is not about the industrialization of the ocean. It’s about working with the ocean on its terms.
Moving forward, what do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities in Canada’s coastal regions?
Ocean health is our biggest challenge and greatest opportunity. Keeping oceans healthy requires smart policy and substantial investments. But it’s worth it because healthy oceans have more to give.
A healthy ocean reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 20%. A healthy ocean is home to millions more fish and marine life. A healthy ocean is one that industry and workers can rely on. That’s why we have to protect and restore the health of our oceans. It is the foundation of the strong, sustainable blue economy that we want for Canadians