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Canada's marine territorial waters measure 5.75 million square kilometres, equivalent to the combined area of India and Greenland. Collectively, Canada's coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic Oceans are more than 243,000 kilometres in length -- the longest of any country in the world.
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For the first time ever, the ocean protection community is commemorating World Oceans Day without one of its biggest champions, Canadian conservationist and filmmaker Rob Stewart. More than ever though, we are reminded of the movement he inspired with his 2006 film "Sharkwater," to stop the extinction-level crisis facing many shark species.
Shell Canada has relinquished 30 oil and gas exploration permits that were the subject of a lawsuit launched by WWF-Canada. Now, after decades of struggle, nothing stands in the way of finally creating a National Marine Conservation Area in Lancaster Sound, with all the significant protection measures that includes.
Oceans Day wants to "change perspectives" and encourages people to think about "what [the ocean] has to offer all of us" as human beings. This blatantly anthropocentric messaging shouldn't be surprising, given that SeaWorld and other corporate users of the oceans are sponsors of Oceans Day.
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June 8 marks World Oceans Day, but what if we celebrated oceans every day? Covering more than 70 per cent of Earth's surface, oceans, more than anything, define our small blue planet. We should celebrate their complex and vibrant ecosystems, life-sustaining services, calming effects and unimaginable diversity, much of which we have not yet even discovered.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been widely recognized as an important part of keeping our oceans healthy. Although there are many different definitions of what an MPA is, one of the best explanations is an ocean area where human activities are restricted or managed in some way. Designation of such areas are known to contribute to the improved health, integrity and productivity of marine ecosystems and can help address biodiversity losses and conserve ecologically significant areas.
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World Oceans Day, celebrated across the globe on June 8, is Canada's brainchild. The Canadian government proposed the concept in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. This makes Monday's news of Canada's significant ocean protection shortcomings, courtesy of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society's report, all the more hard to swallow.
With the federal government decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline looming, this year's World Oceans Day takes on even greater meaning for B.C. Anyone who has lived on our coast knows how important our oceans and our beaches are to our lifestyle, our economy and our identity as British Columbians.