Can we speed up the creation of Marine Protected Areas?

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, my question for the member for North Okanagan—Shuswap comes from direct experience in my own riding, where there has been a proposal for a national marine conservation area for some time.

It is described in the government documents as the Southern Strait of Georgia national marine conservation area. It is known within our community as the Salish Sea conservation area. To give the member an idea of how long the proposal has existed, it was endorsed in 1972 by Jacques Cousteau.

I believe that Bill C-55 is long overdue to create mechanisms to speed up the process of establishing marine protected areas. I have many questions for the Liberal government and I have amendments that will come forth in committee, but I just want to put on record that I do not agree with the idea that this bill would give the Minister of Fisheriesunwelcome draconian powers.

I would ask my hon. colleague if he does not think that after waiting from 1972 to 2017, we might be able to do something to speed up the process.

Mel Arnold – Member for North Okanaga-Shuswap

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for all the work she does as the lone member of her party. It is a daunting task to try to keep on top of all of the legislation that comes before the House, so I recognize her for that.

I understand what she is saying about the proposed designation of an MPA off the B.C. coast going on for a long time, since 1972 or 1973. That is certainly a long time. That can be used as an example of how complex some of these proposed MPAs are. All of them cannot be understood within a five-year time frame.

While I do agree that 20 or 30 years is too long, there are processes in place for protecting fish stocks and for protecting ecological areas. We cannot simply put a fixed timeline on something that is so complex.