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Canada Establishes its first Marine Protected Area

Mar 7 - The Honorable Robert G. Thibault, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, has announced the establishment of Canada's first Marine Protected Area (MPA), the Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents Area, southwest of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents are home to 12 species of marine life that do not exist anywhere else in the world, and 60 species unique to the Juan de Fuca Ridge system. "The Endeavour Vents is an important area for scientific researchers around the world," stated Dr. Kim Juniper, Associate Professor at University of Quebec in Montreal and member of the Endeavour research team. "This is a unique biological area where new species have been recently discovered."

Establishing MPAs is a key activity of Canada's Oceans Strategy , which was released last year by Minister Thibault. This designation puts in place enforceable regulations to protect the area and its marine organisms, while encouraging continued scientific study and research of the ecosystem. "The designation of the Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents as a Marine Protected Area is an important step towards the creation of a national system of Marine Protected Areas which will enable Canada to take its place on the world stage as a protector of marine ecosystems for the benefit of Canadians and other nations," Minister Thibault added.

There are currently 13 areas being considered for designation as Marine Protected Areas on Canada's three coasts, including the Gully, one of the deepest submarine canyons in the western North Atlantic, located approximately 200 kilometers from Nova Scotia. In the southern Beaufort Sea, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Inuvialuit, and industry are assessing an MPA for critical beluga whale habitats.

Background materials, photos and the Minister's speech are available on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website .

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