Canada has one of the worlds longest coastlines bordering the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans and one of the largest ocean bodies of any country in the world. The worlds oceans produce more than half of the oxygen that sustains life on this planet.
It makes sense therefore that we do our best to keep them healthy. While the oceans ability to absorb carbon dioxide helps protect all life from the harsh impact of climate change. They are also the main source of protein for about one billion people around the world. And more than 200 million people fish for a living.
Once considered an inexhaustible source of food, our oceans are now in a state of crisis. Due to over fishing, which is the single biggest threat to ocean life, as well as poor management. Over the last 50 or so years many of the large ocean fish have been fished to the point of collapse, such as Blue-fin Tuna, Cod and shark. Today about 80 per cent of the worlds fish stocks are fully exploited, over exploited or depleted.
Bycatch, which is the unintended capture of certain non target species, is one of the biggest problems in fishing. Each year more than 250,000 marine turtles, 300,000 cetaceans and thousands of endangered sharks are trapped in commercial fishing gear.
Other problems are growing at an alarming rate due to shipping, tourism, oil and gas, renewable energy and also the growth of coastal communities.
All these things take a toll on our ocean species and habitats. Whats more, climate change is changing ocean temperatures and acidification. This is why we urgently need smart ocean management plans that protect important ocean ecosystems- and will keep all our oceans healthy. Unfortunately just 1.6% of the worlds oceans have been declared as marine protected areas ( MPAs).
These areas are important because they protect habitats such as coral reefs from destructive fishing practices, also protected areas allow the recovery of fish and other marine life that have been depleted from over fishing. While over 90% of oceans are open to fishing, people are now starting to realize something must be done in order to protect our oceans and all marine life.
But still many governments continue to subsidize their fleets, allowing unprofitable operations to subsist, and over fishing to occur. Today’s worldwide fishing fleet is estimated to be up to two and a half times the capacity needed to catch what we actually need.
The goal of Canada’s Three Oceans is to observe North Pacific, Arctic, and North Atlantic waters, and establish a scientific basis for sustainable, long-term monitoring. It is hoped we can collect relevant data over time, so as to allow qualification of change within the system for decision making purposes.
And hopefully over time make the right decisions that will keep our oceans healthy.