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Ottawa eyes B.C. coastline for new economic vision

Public engagement begins on ambitious Blue Economy Strategy
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China Ocean Shipping’s (COSCO) Antwerp unloads at the Port of Prince Rupert. Ottawa has launched its public consultations for its Blue Economy Strategy for environmentally and economically sustainable ocean-based industries and uses that will better utilize the economic potential of Canada’s coastline. (file photo)

The federal government wants to hear from British Columbians on what they want in an ambitious new plan for the province’s ocean territory that has the potential to change the provincial economic landscape.

The national Blue Economy Strategy (BES) is to position the country as a global leader in ocean-based economies that create middle-class jobs while pushing for healthier oceans and sustainable ocean industries.

Federal fisheries and oceans minister Bernadette Jordan is launching public consultations first with a series of virtual roundtables with innovators, academia, and the fishing and aquaculture sector. This week she also launched a website for general public engagement and feedback.

READ MORE: Barrels of fuel to children’s toys: B.C. shoreline cleanup nets 127 tonnes of marine debris

“Canada’s blue economy should be second to none,” Jordan said. “That’s why we’re developing a strategy to make our ocean industries more sustainable, more productive and more prosperous. This is about creating more long-term opportunities for our coastal communities, by working with the ocean on its terms. Canadians understand that action on climate change is vital to sustainability and economic growth, and building a thriving, sustainable ocean economy is no different. The Blue Economy Strategy will help steer federal investments and actions, on all three coasts, across all ocean sectors, toward a single goal: to get more Canadians working on and in the water.”

Developing the strategy will be a major undertaking of multiple ministries, including transport, economic development, science and industry, Crown-Indigenous relations and international trade, among others.

Canada has the longest coastline in the world, but ocean-based sectors currently account for just 1.6 per cent, or $31 billion, of the national GDP. By comparison Jordan points to Norway which uses its coastline for 33 per cent of its GDP.

READ MORE: Build a better blue economy through responsible aquaculture

“There is so much more we can harness to drive our economy. It’s something we need to look at seriously. How do we best do that?”

Topics leading Jordan’s public engagement will include products and technologies to foster a sustainable commercial fishing industry, offshore renewable energy, transportation, sustainable tourism, international trade and new green technologies in ocean-related fields.

“This can’t be a made-in-Ottawa, behind-closed-doors strategy. It has to come from the communities that are impacted directly. It has to come from industry. It has to come from Indigenous communities and it has to come from our environmental organizations.”

READ MORE: New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

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