Vancouver, British Columbia – Our oceans are vital to the livelihoods of communities across Canada. As stewards of the longest coastline in the world, it is our shared responsibility to keep our oceans healthy for generations to come. Working in close collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous communities and industry, the Government of Canada is protecting important marine habitats, species and ecosystems. These protections are critical to protecting global biodiversity, mitigating impacts due to climate change, and advancing our goal of conserving 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2025, and 30 per cent by 2030.
Today at the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5), the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Chief John Powell (Winidi) of the Mamalilikulla First Nation, and the Honourable Nathan Cullen, B.C. Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship, announced fisheries closures and the establishment of a marine refuge, to help protect the ecologically and culturally significant area of Gwaxdlala/Nalaxdlala in Knight Inlet on the coast of British Columbia.
Marine refuges are intended to be long-term in nature to help protect important species and habitats. All commercial, recreational and Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) fisheries will be closed within the area to prevent impacts from human activity and to ensure full protection of the marine environment.
In consultation with the Mamalilikulla First Nation and the Province of British Columbia, Gwaxdlala/Nalaxdlala – also known as Lull Bay and Hoeya Sound – was identified as an important area that includes a globally unique ecosystem of fragile and slow-growing corals and sponges that provide habitat for more than 240 marine species. It is also identified as an area of high cultural significance by the Mamalililkulla First Nation. Gwaxdlala/Nalaxdlala is the first marine refuge to be recognized through the Northern Shelf Bioregion Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network planning process, and it represents years of work between Canada, the Province of British Columbia and the Mamalilikulla First Nation.
The Government of Canada is committed to conserving and protecting Canada’s marine ecosystems for future generations, advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, and supporting sustainable fisheries management.