Mediaplanet spoke with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Honourable Joyce Murray, on how she is helping to restore Canada’s waterways and coastal ecosystems.
Since being appointed the new Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, how is Canada planning to add more jobs to rural, coastal and indigenous communities?
Canada is a proven world leader in a sustainable blue economy, and I want to build on that. We are a nation of three oceans, nearly 250,000 kilometres of sprawling coastline — more than twice the length of any other country in the world – and one-fifth of the world’s freshwater. Almost one in five Canadians live in coastal communities — and Canada’s oceans support jobs, families, communities and a way of life.
Combined, Canada’s ocean industries generate over $30 billion a year. Our blue economy has more room to grow through the innovation of the people and businesses that have traditionally relied on the ocean and its resources.
As we look to the future for new ways to drive economic growth, our government is working on a Blue Economy Strategy. This strategy aims to be an economic engine for rural, coastal and Indigenous communities. It is intended to strengthen the sustainability, productivity and value of the fish and seafood sector. It will continue to build on innovation and transformative digital solutions, and it recognizes that improving ocean ecosystems will drive ocean wealth.
The key to productive and prosperous coastal communities is recognizing that each of Canada’s coasts faces different contexts, opportunities and challenges. The Blue Economy Strategy will work to ensure future investments in the oceans leverage each regions’ existing strengths to address ongoing needs and seize new opportunities.
I do recognize we will need a strong focus on developing talent and growing the diverse and skilled workforce that includes the full participation of under-represented people, including women, Indigenous peoples, youth, racialized communities and persons with disabilities.
With seafood demand growing, how can Canada achieve the next level of being a sustainable seafood powerhouse?
As Canada’s ocean economy continues to grow, our comprehensive Blue Economy Strategy will coordinate actions and investments to ensure proper, sustainable stewardship of Canada’s blue resources.
I am committed to tackling overfishing and improving fisheries and oceans governance in Canada’s waters and on the high seas. This includes working with stakeholders and international partners to encourage accountability and collaboration. It means developing innovative tools to strengthen conservation and management measures and to improve the effectiveness of monitoring and enforcing efforts against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Our government is managing fisheries to promote stock growth, rebuild long-term abundance and ensure economic opportunities from the fish and seafood sector for the generations to come.
How will you look to modernize the government’s aquaculture programs?
Our government — working closely with provinces, territories, Indigenous governments, and marine stakeholders— strives to ensure that the fish and aquaculture industry in Canada operates sustainably, avoiding adverse impacts to wild fish populations.
We have invested more than $30 million to support innovation in Canada’s fisheries and aquaculture industries for the use and development of clean technologies to improve both operational efficiency and environmental performance.
The Fisheries and Aquaculture Clean Technology Adoption Program (FACTAP) funds projects that support research and development, real-world field testing, and the adoption of clean technologies to reduce environmental impacts.
Adopting alternative technologies will help diversity and grow the aquaculture industry, leading to new opportunities for industry, like land-based recirculating systems, floating closed-containment systems, or other options.
The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring aquaculture activities are undertaken in a manner that is environmentally conscious, sustainable and minimizes impacts on wild salmon.
DFO works closely with British Columbia, First Nations and other partners to maintain an effective and responsible regulatory framework for aquaculture in BC. I have been mandated by the Prime Minister to continue to work with the province of British Columbia and Indigenous communities on a responsible plan to transition from open net-pen salmon farming in coastal British Columbia waters.
I am prioritizing my review of the work done thus far, to determine what’s required to complete this transition and to ensure the long-term viability of sustainable aquaculture in BC. Governments must be a partner with innovators, who will bring new capital investments, maintaining and greening jobs in the sector.
As always, continued, close collaboration with Indigenous communities, the Province of British Columbia, industry, scientists and other stakeholders will be key.
How will the DFO ensure the restoration of waterways and coastal ecosystems?
As the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I can assure Canadians that one of my highest priorities, as reflected in my mandate letter, is the conservation and regeneration of our oceans and water bodies.
Healthy oceans are required for a healthy future — one that supports a sustainable blue economy for all.
Our government has committed to protecting 25 percent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030. Before 2015, Canada protected less than one percent of our oceans, and I’m happy to say that we’ve already increased that number to nearly 14 percent.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada underpins all of its work with extensive consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, provincial, and territorial governments, marine stakeholders, and environmental groups, to conserve and protect our oceans for future generations.
Our government has made historic investments to restore and protect Canada’s waterways and coastal ecosystems. This includes $976.8 million over five years to reach ambitious marine conservation targets through the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs); $647 million towards the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative aimed at rebuilding wild salmon stocks to a sustainable level; $10.8 million towards the Ghost Gear Fund to remove marine debris from the ocean, which pose a significant risk to fish and aquatic mammals; and $1.5 billion towards the Ocean Protection Plan, which includes the Coastal Restoration Fund.
Canada will host the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) alongside Host First Nations — the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh — in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). This congress will bring together a broad spectrum of individuals, organizations, governments, and institutions representing many sectors of society to advance further solutions for the protection and health of the global ocean.