Ministerial Question Period: High Seas Treaty

By: The Hon. Patricia Bovey

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Rideau Canal, Ottawa

Hon. Patricia Bovey: Welcome, minister. As Senator Coyle has said, the High Seas Treaty agreed to last week at the UN is an historic step in protecting the world’s oceans.

Canada has much experience in this. For example, we have upped the protected areas along our coasts. We have taken a leading role in the 1994 Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Sargasso Sea Commission. I have been hearing that many countries are looking to us to take a lead on this agreement as well. How do you see Canada becoming a leader in seeing that this treaty accomplishes its goals?

Hon. Joyce Murray, P.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard: Thank you, senator. I would like to acknowledge the many people that have already made Canada a leader and seen to be a leader in terms of ocean conservation. We were one of the first members of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy. We, as Canada, were asked to partner when China was not able to physically host COP 15, which was co-hosted by Minister Guilbeault in Montreal, and I had a chance to participate in that as well and see the Canadian delegation and negotiators at work. We were the host for IMPAC5, which is the International Marine Protected Areas Congress, just weeks ago in Vancouver.

So I would assert we already are leaders, and I know our Prime Minister has a very strong support for that leadership. We have stood up as a group of countries that are committed to addressing illegal, unregulated and unauthorized fishing on the high seas. It was Britain, the United States and Canada that launched that initiative, which now has a number of other countries who have joined. I am very concerned about conservation. I will continue in this tradition of leadership on ocean conservation that those before me and our Prime Minister really have pioneered.

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