Letter: We must take better care of our oceans

For too long the oceans have been used as a dumping ground by one species: humans!

Dear editor,

Our Mother Earth is a blue planet because of ocean waters. For too long the oceans have been used as a dumping ground for garbage, for nuclear testing, for effluent and other toxic actions by one species: humans! Canada has the longest coast line of any country. We could be world leaders in how we regulate private ownership; marine park designation, search and rescue for all species at risk and restoration of damaged shorelines. We have a long journey to paddle before we reach that goal.

Canadians love the oceans that surround them. Being home to the world’s longest coastline comes with great responsibility. Climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and industrial pressures make this a critical moment in human history. That’s why I urge you to put your promises into full force and make ocean protection a priority for your government.

Here is an abbreviated list of policy recommendations, which can be found in more detail in the David Suzuki Foundation report “Charting coastal currents: Canada’s Pacific communities talk climate, culture, oceans and the future”.

• Implement ecosystem-based management in Canada’s oceans and fully protect 10 per cent of marine area by 2020

• Restore without delay habitat protections that were lost in the Fisheries Act and then engage Canadians in improving the act

• Offer wild salmon greater protection by implementing all of Justice Cohen’s recommendations and Wild Salmon Policy strategies

• Require improved health monitoring, disease reporting and data transparency for open net-pen finfish aquaculture

• Establish a north coast tanker ban on the West Coast, as promised during the election campaign

The complexity of ocean ecosystems and coastal communities requires thorough and comprehensive planning and policy. Please take the steps necessary to keep our oceans healthy now and for our children and grandchildren.

Betty Donaldson

Courtenay

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