Barbara Mills, June 9, 2021
DFO is the Federal ministry responsible for protecting our oceans and the life within it. Unfortunately, it is also responsible for promoting industry that exploits the ocean. In our region of Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel, this paradoxical mandate has led to the degradation of spawning and nursery habitat, loss of biodiversity, escalating levels of plastic pollution, and nine tons of aquaculture debris littering our beaches.
Clearly in its conflicting mandate, DFO has perennially chosen to support industry over ecosystem survival. Its new initiative announced this Spring by DFO Minister Jordan called “The Blue Economy”, continues this shocking pattern. Minister Jordan proclaims that this initiative will help Canada’s industries to “build back better” after COVID. Given the climate crisis that is devastating the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, one would naturally expect that this initiative would promote and highlight economic initiatives such as restorative aquaculture, restoration of fish stocks and habitat, solar power for seaplanes and ferries, cumulative impact assessment to guide the restoration of Canada’s recently designated MPAs. Unfortunately, this is not the case! Far from it!
Although Canada’s Blue Economy (BE) is a planned progression of the UN/World Bank document of the same name, as well as Canada’s UN-led Sustainable Development Goals, it differs in one overwhelmingly significant way. The introduction and content of Canada’s BE has neglected to include the UN references on the primary need to address the climate crisis, loss of biodiversity and fish stocks in the ocean, and to the ocean’s essential role of regulating the atmosphere and sequestering CO2 and other greenhouse gases. It has neglected to reference aspirations of using blue carbon, and alternative energy sources to reduce industry’s impact.
Instead, Minister Jordan seems to primarily favor “industry as usual”, as evidenced by her following statement.
“Canada’s Blue economy consists of traditional ocean-based sectors such as commercial fishing, aquaculture, seafood processing, marine shipping, port activities, shipbuilding, and coastal tourism. It also includes emerging industries and activities driven by cutting-edge developments in science and technology, such as offshore energy, marine biotechnology and mining.”
And she gives the example of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster initiative to “commercialize two breakthrough technologies to produce an environmentally sustainable and low-cost protein for the aquaculture industry while reducing oil and gas emissions.”
This Sustainable Protein for Aquaculture project will take greenhouse gas emissions from upstream oil and gas and convert them into a high-value protein product to be used to feed farmed fish.”
In contrast , the UN goals for the Blue Economy omit any reference to using the ocean for oil, gas, and mining, and instead call for :
“Maintenance and restoration of ecosystem integrity by supporting ecosystem services that are essential to sustaining human and marine life. They call for supporting the integrity of the ocean because it is a key factor in addressing the climate crisis and gobal and ocean warming. They recognize that climate crisis, marine pollution, unsustainable extraction of marine resources and destruction of coastal habitats threaten the ocean and human well-being throughout the world. It calls for an ecosystem approach and a change in how humans manage and use ocean, seas and marine resources.”
What We Can Do:
1.Sign the Oceana petition below:
2.We must tell Minister Jordan that this Earth and this ecosystem cannot afford to put the needs of extractive and environmentally neglectful industry before our children’s and the Earth’s future. If you wish to give feedback go to the website below by June 15, 2021:
Or simply email your criticism to: BlueEconomy-EconomieBleue@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
It doesn’t have to be long or fancy. It can simply say “please protect our future. Any industry supported by this program must first and foremost protect and restore the intgrity of the ocean and serve to combat the climate catastrophe that threatens the Earth’s future”.