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World - Blue economy can revive or destroy ailing oceans

'A blue-economy strategy that emphasizes protection and restoration can boost the oceans' ability to adapt to and mitigate climate change.'

Bernadette Jordan, the minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coastguard, has tough decisions to make about the ocean economy. After six months of consultations, Canada is at a crossroads. When considering the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss, only one path is truly feasible.

A blue-economy strategy must prioritize conservation and restoration to ensure healthy marine ecosystems can sustain marine life, and human dependence on marine resources, for the long term.

Canada’s pursuit of a blue-economy strategy comes from a promise it made, along with 13 other countries, to sustainably manage 100 per cent of ocean waters, so it should also align with our international commitments to climate action and protection of 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030.

“Sustainable management” is ripe for interpretation. Together, 18 national and regional environmental organizations have set an expectation for what that means for a blue-economy strategy. It starts with respecting Indigenous rights and the natural environment. It includes integrating local and Indigenous knowledge into planning and decision-making. It must aggressively pursue an approach that protects and restores the oceans without trying to justify the restriction of destructive industrial activities such as offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction, deep-seabed mining, overfishing, and harmful aquaculture practices.

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