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“Canada Gives BP Okay to Explore in Marine Conservation Area”

“How protected is a marine refuge, really, if oil drilling is allowed?”

“Earlier this month, the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board accepted a bid from oil company BP to explore for oil and gas in an area that includes part of Atlantic Canada’s largest marine conservation area.

The move to open part of the Northeast Newfoundland Slope Closure marine refuge to oil and gas exploration has alarmed conservation groups. It has also highlighted how the confusing variety of approaches that Canada is using to reach its marine conservation goals can result in wildly varying levels of protection.

In August 2019, Canada surpassed its goal of protecting 10 percent of its ocean area—the current total stands at around 14 percent—and reiterated its goal of protecting 25 percent by 2025, and 30 percent by 2030. But not all protected areas contributing to this total are created equal. The Northeast Newfoundland Slope Closure, for example, is a marine refuge, not a marine protected area (MPA).”

Brian Owens reports for Hakai magazine November 27, 2020.