• Sunday, January 20, 2019

Proposed Oceans Act amendments focus on environmental protection and enforcement - Subscriber Access Only

By BCShippingNews 07 December 2017
By David K. Jones, Bernard LLP, Vancouver

Earlier this year the Federal Government introduced Bill C-55, An Act to Amend the Oceans Act and the Canadian Petroleum Resources Act. The proposed amendments include environmental protection provisions to allow the government to more quickly designate an area as a marine protected area. The amendments also significantly increase the level of fines, strengthen the enforcement provisions of the Act, and add offences specifically relating to ships. 

Oceans Act

The existing Oceans Act has two major components:

  • It defines Canada’s offshore maritime zones such as the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the economic exclusion zone and the continental shelf. 
  • It provides for the development and implementation of a national strategy for the management of Canada’s estuaries and coastal and marine waters. A key component of that strategy is the power to designate “marine protected areas” for special protection of marine resources such as commercial and non-commercial fisheries, marine mammals and their habitats; endangered or threatened marine species and their habitats; unique habitats and areas of high biodiversity.

Examples of marine protected areas off Canada’s Pacific coast are the Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area, 180 kilometres west of Haida Gwaii, an underwater volcano which supports an ecologically rich marine area; the Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents, 250 kilometres west of Vancouver Island, which is also an area of rich marine biodiversity; and the very recently designated Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reefs Marine Protected Areas.