Quebec's Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks, Mr. Pierre Arcand with Mr. Germain Chevarie, Member of the National Assembly for Îles-de-la-Madeleine, announced today an agreement to conduct a study on the creation of a marine protected area in Îles-de-la-Madeleine. In so doing, the governments of Canada and Quebec are acting on their mutual desire to further understanding of the unique biodiversity in Îles-de-la-Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Today's announcement is part of the larger St. Lawrence Action Plan 2011-2016, which calls on Canada and Quebec to work together to protect and enhance the St. Lawrence River.
"For the government of Canada, protecting our country's natural heritage is a top priority. The area along the Madeleine banks is one of 29 Canadian marine regions recognized by Parks Canada. This study will further our understanding of this area and help us identify the opportunities and limitations related to establishing a marine protected area in Îles-de-la-Madeleine," said Minister Kent.
This agreement is aimed at setting out how the governments of Canada and Quebec will cooperate to publish an evaluation report within two years. The study will look specifically at the ecological, economic, social, and cultural features of the area; conservation issues and related sectors of interest, and; the opportunities and limitations related to establishing marine protected areas. The concerns of island residents and aboriginal communities will be an integral component of the report.
"Quebec has set strategic directions regarding protected areas and we are committed to protecting 10% of the St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence by 2015. We want to assess the potential of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine area and take into account the concerns of the residents and aboriginal peoples affected. This study will give us a detailed, accurate picture of the effects a marine protected area could have on the community," added Minister Arcand.
"Like all Magdalen Islanders, I am extremely proud of my part of the country and I am deeply committed to helping it develop sustainably in a way that is not only economically advantageous but also socially and environmentally responsible. So I am thrilled that a study will be conducted to help us determine the full extent of our islands' natural and cultural potential so we can pinpoint the best way to protect them," said Germain Chevarie, Member of the National Assembly for Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
The two governments will each provide half the funding for the study, which will be coordinated and co-chaired by Parks Canada and Quebec's Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs. The Centre de recherche sur les milieux insulaires et maritimes and Université du Québec à Rimouski will lend their expertise to the study along with the Canadian and Quebec ministries concerned. An advisory committee composed of community members will also be formed to get interested organizations involved and provide a forum for locals to express their concerns. Aboriginal communities with interests in the study area will also be consulted.
2011 marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, which celebrates life and the importance of preserving Earth's biodiversity. The governments of Canada and Quebec support the goal of expanding marine and coastal area conservation and intend to continue their efforts to safeguard biological diversity. Today's announcement clearly demonstrates the governments' backing of these objectives as well as their commitment to protecting the unique biodiversity of Canada and Quebec for future generations. 2011 is also the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada, the world's first national parks service.
- 30 -
Office of the Minister
of Sustainable Development,
Environment and Parks
Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs