UPDATE: 2+2+2=6 Steps Toward Protection of the Great Bear Sea

Sep 19, 2016
Diana Chan
  • Harbour seals in a Great Bear Sea kelp forest

Over the last three months, there have been several developments that could help to advance marine protection in the Great Bear Sea. While there is much work to be done, there are clear opportunities that can be seized to move us closer to a sustainable ocean and future for the B.C. coast. Read on for what you can do to help.

What happened this summer?

1.  The Federal Court of Appeal overturned approval of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project

The end of June brought this important announcement – a victory for the First Nations, communities, groups, and individuals like you who have fought to stop this project for years. While this decision does not end Northern Gateway once and for all, it does give the Trudeau Cabinet the option to do just that.

 2.  Seventeen coastal First Nations and the B.C. government signed implementation agreements for the MaPP marine plans

This is a definitive step towards building a long overdue system of marine protected areas while furthering co-governance with First Nations. While these plans do not address issues falling under federal jurisdiction such as fisheries and tanker traffic, they are a solid foundation that can be used to inform the development of the emerging MPA Network for the Northern Shelf Bioregion.  

What is happening now?

1.  A crude oil tanker moratorium for the north coast is imminent

Transport Minister Marc Garneau recently announced that the federal government will be releasing a new “Pacific strategy” this fall – and it will include the long-promised crude oil tanker moratorium for the north coast.

Whether or not this move will actually ensure lasting protection for the Great Bear Sea will depend on how it is implemented. For example, we need to make sure that the ban is legislated by an Act of Parliament and does not contain a sunset clause or expiry date. Read West Coast Environmental Law’s blog for more information about what the moratorium should look like.

A crude oil tanker ban would essentially kill the Northern Gateway project if the federal Cabinet doesn’t do so first. However, we should note that it would not impact LNG tanker traffic.

2.  The federal government has engaged in a process to establish a marine protected area network

As mentioned above, First Nations, the province of B.C., and the federal government have started planning for an MPA network in the Great Bear Sea. This is an opportunity to make sure that the federal government’s commitment to protect 10% of its ocean estate by the year 2020 includes the Great Bear Sea and is a stepping stone achieved on the way to more comprehensive protection and management.

How can I help?

1.  Comment on the upcoming north coast crude oil tanker moratorium

The federal government is allowing public comment that can shape what the tanker ban looks like, so we can do our part to ensure that it is permanent, legislated, and comprehensive. West Coast Environmental Law has put together an excellent guide to help as you draft your feedback.

You have until September 30th to submit your comments to Transport Canada online.

2.  Add your voice to protect the Great Bear Sea

Express your commitment to the vision of a network of marine protected areas in the Great Bear Sea. Sign the pledge here

Learn More