Thanks again for inviting me. It's a pleasure to talk to you again, in this case about protected areas.
The title slide shows two bottlenose whales, which are the species that are protected by the east coast's first sizable MPA, the Gully MPA, which is 14 years old now, and which has actually been successful in achieving its objectives. We have a positive precedent on this coast, and I think we can build on this.
The next slide shows the latest data on global coverage of protected areas worldwide. In red is the total coverage, all protected areas of any kind in the ocean. In blue are the strongly protected areas, those that fulfill the gold standard that Callum Roberts mentioned. What you can see is that the growth rate of protected areas has been pretty steady at 8% per year since 1960, which is a very healthy growth rate if you consider a current stock portfolio. For example, strongly protected areas, since 2000, have been increasing at 20% per year. For this reason, protected areas have become a major target for impact investment from big foundations and governments because they are growing at a very rapid rate, much like renewable energies.
Why are protected areas growing so rapidly? It's because an increasing number of governments realize that they're not just good tools for protecting biodiversity. They're also tools for recovering and safeguarding fisheries that have been compromised in the past. Of course, this has happened in Canada as well. We did a study with a large interdisciplinary panel of fisheries experts from around the world. I think it is today still the most comprehensive study on how to bring fisheries back from the brink. It's called “Rebuilding Global Fisheries”, published in Science a few years ago. What we showed there was that closed and protected areas were the second most important tool after dealing with different fishing gears, like the trawls and dredges that Callum Roberts mentioned. Those areas were the second most important tool, not for protecting whales, dolphins, and seabirds, but for bringing fisheries back. As such, they have worked. These are case studies we have compiled from around the world where fisheries actually have started to recover, because of, among other things, closed areas, which are part of the tool box, but they're a key part of the tool box, in fact, the second most important part of the tool box globally speaking.
Protected areas in Canada have also yielded some surprises. Apart from protecting endangered species and helping out fisheries, we see that protected areas are a key tool for enhancing tourism. In this slide, we can see kayakers in the Musquash protected area in New Brunswick; divers in Race Rocks, B.C.; bottlenose whales, which are doing fairly well, in the Gully protected area, which is 14 years old; and we see a typical sight in the past two years of cruise ships in Halifax harbour. The reason for that is that ocean tourism is one of the most rapid growth sectors in tourism, and of any industry worldwide, in fact. All of these cruise ships were not there 10 years ago. One reason they're coming to our area now is that they pass through the Gully MPA, which nobody, as it was protected, ever thought would become a tourism destination. It has become a major whale-watching hotspot for those cruise ships, among other attractions.
There is one important point I would like to make that the previous speakers have not made. The recent study just out last month in Nature showed there is something very important that MPAs need to have on top of good protection and the other criteria that were mentioned—like they're large and they're protected for some time—and that is that they're appropriately staffed and funded. In fact, staffing was the most important predictor worldwide in this study of increases in fish biomass in the reserves and of other desirable socio-economic outcomes.
This is a cautionary note, I think, to the Canadian process. As we're ramping up protected areas to that interim target of 10% by 2020, we have to make sure those areas are managed, staffed, and funded in the future; otherwise, they will not provide the full benefits they could provide. I think this is a very important result out in the scientific literature just this past month.
The other aspect that we're missing in Canada—and this point was made by the previous speaker—is that the areas need to be strongly protected, and Canada lags woefully behind other G20 nations in strongly protecting the areas that we do protect. The reason for that is that the Canadian process is very fair and inclusive, and I will say, somewhat lengthy. I understand that there's a need for that, and particularly aboriginal and fishing groups have been extremely extensively consulted, more than I'm aware of in the U.S., in the U.K., and other nations like us. This has slowed the process down, but it has also made the process very inclusive and comprehensive.
I think that the process being so inclusive is a good thing. Unfortunately, it has resulted in strong protections, like in the U.K., falling a little bit behind, and that goal of strongly protecting the areas that we do protect has not yet been fulfilled. We need to pay more attention to that while talking to these interest groups.
I will make a final point that Canadians as a whole, as a population—apart from special interest groups that harvest from the ocean—very strongly support increased ocean protection. We actually measured this scientifically. There is a paper in preparation to be published later this year where we surveyed young people in schools and adults in Nova Scotia in 2013. People thought that a lot more of the ocean was already protected, and that is not the case. For youth, it peaked at about 11% to 25% and, for adults, it peaked at 2% to 10%.
When they are asked how much they would like to see eventually protected, the numbers are much higher, and they're at or in excess of the 30% target that Callum and Isabelle have mentioned. This says that people intuitively wish for a level of protection that actually matches what scientists around the world are recommending. This is the Canadian public that was polled here, and I feel quite strongly that the Canadian public has not had a proper say in this process. It has been very much about interest groups, which are important. They need to be heard, and they have talked to this committee repeatedly, but I think there are also 35 million other Canadians who have a voice and who very evidently care about increased ocean protection.
In order to draw these people in and give them the tools to have a voice and an informed opinion about how much of the ocean is already protected and how much should be protected based on scientific evidence, I will make the point that ocean education is something that is very important. I'm happy to report that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is funding a program that Dalhousie University and the National Film Board are running called “Ocean School”, where we're bringing ocean education into schools across Canada and other countries.
We tested this recently in France, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Manitoba with great success, giving students immersive experiences and the tools and data they need to make informed decisions about the oceans. I think this is something we haven't done enough of in this country and around the world. We've committed to doing it under the Galway agreement, and we're providing the tools to do this.
Let me wrap up with conclusions. There are four points I would like to make. First, marine protected areas are a key tool of modern marine governance. They are used around the world. Canada has lagged behind. We're catching up now on a tight timeline, but we need more strongly protected MPAs to realize the full benefits.
Second, as I said, strong protection also entails proper staffing and funding once the MPAs are in place.
Third, the process here is extremely thorough. It's well executed. I hope it can be sped up enough to meet the Aichi target that the previous Conservative government agreed to reach, and that's now being implemented.
Finally, there's this point that I see through polling but I also see through talking to Canadians every day in various fora, which is that a large majority in the country strongly supports increased ocean protections for the benefits that have been mentioned and that have been so thoroughly documented elsewhere and in Canada.
Thank you very much.