Oceans are a big part of what make Victoria and the capital region such an amazing place to live, work and play.
Healthy oceans underpin our incredible array of recreational opportunities, a vibrant downtown working harbour, the region’s globally significant marine research sector, a multitude of businesses, and are central to traditional First Nations culture identities.
However, the science is clear: oceans are in peril globally, nationally and regionally. For example:
- Just this week, the United Nations released another major report compiling science on the health of oceans and stressing the need for decisive action now to limit further damage to oceans from climate change;
- On our current trajectory, there will be more plastic in the ocean by weight than fish by 2050;
- 60% of the world’s major marine ecosystems have been degraded or are being used unsustainably;
- Commercial overexploitation of the world’s fish stocks is so severe that up to 13 percent of global fisheries have collapsed;
- Coral reefs are biodiversity hotspots, but ocean acidification from climate change may render most regions of the ocean inhospitable to coral reefs, affecting tourism, food security, shoreline protection, and biodiversity.
At a personal level, these challenges are why I have dedicated my recent professional life to healthy oceans.
Most recently, I completed a PhD research at the University of Victoria to explore the importance of incorporating diverse voices and Indigenous values into oceans policy and governance, and put this to work right away at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Prior to this, I lead efforts at Oceans Networks Canada to ensure the organization’s financial sustainability.
Nationally, the importance of reinventing our relationship with ocean has been central to the Liberal Government’s agenda, including:
- An initiative to ban single use plastics as early as 2021 to reduce oceans waste;
- Putting a price on carbon, which leading global economists all agree is central to any meaningful plan to address climate change;
- Protecting nearly 14% of Canada’s coast and marine areas; and,
- Safeguarding the ocean through the Oceans Protection Plan
These Liberal Government initiatives support and reinforce the numerous local, regional and provincial oceans stewardship activities in Victoria and the surrounding region, examples of which range from: the ongoing building of a sewage treatment plant; decades-long efforts to clean up the waters of the Upper Gorge to such an extent that it is now a popular swimming area; and, beach clean-ups that are an annual fixture and demonstration of local commitment to our coastal home.
These initiatives are all positive, but more – far more – remains to be done to address the complex issues threatening our oceans and the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people. Furthermore, progress in politics is always fragile. Our oceans would suffer if government falls to the Conservatives, who have a demonstrated record of slashing environmental protections, muzzling scientists, cutting overall science funding, and allowing other countries to take the lead on pressing issues like climate change.
Now is the time to double down on efforts to national, provincial, regional and local efforts to protect our oceans.
As your local Member of Parliament I would bring my own knowledge, training and expertise to the table in Ottawa as a strong advocate for accelerated oceans protection and stewardship; and I would stand up the particular needs and perspectives from our Island home.