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B.C., feds and local First Nations establish blueprint for marine protection off Vancouver Island

Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island is shown. (Getty Images) Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island is shown. (Getty Images)

After more than a decade of work, the blueprints for a network of marine protected areas covering 30,000-square-kilometers off of Vancouver Island have been announced.

The plans to protect the Northern Shelf Bioregion (NSB) were announced by 15 First Nations, the Government of Canada, and the Government of British Columbia on Sunday at the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress in Vancouver.

The new protection plans are expected to be fully in place by 2025.

The protection means all commercial, recreational and "Food, Social and Ceremonial" fisheries will be closed within the area, preventing the impacts of human activity from damaging the aquatic ecosystem and ensuring full protection of the marine environment.

The NSB stretches from Campbell River on Vancouver Island to the Canada-Alaska border and is the habitat for more than 240 marine species, including unique ecosystem of fragile and slow-growing corals and sponges.

"The endorsement of the Marine Protected Area Network Action Plan for the Northern Shelf Bioregion demonstrates what we can accomplish together to conserve biodiversity when we rely on science, conservation and Indigenous and local knowledge," said Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

"This is an important step towards meeting our goal of protecting 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030," continued the minster.

Funding for the plan is closely related to the $800 million Indigenous-led conservation initiative announced by the federal government at COP15, and will also be supported by long-term funding.

"Our Nations have a solid track record proving that Indigenous-led conservation works for nature and for people," said Dallas Smith, president of the Nanwakolas Council.

"As we tackle the urgent challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change, this is the model the world needs now," he said.

The federal government and First Nation leaders are expected to make another announcement regarding the protection of a large marine area off the Pacific West Coast on Tuesday at the International Marine Protected Areas Congress. Top Stories

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