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Great Lakes Article:

Canada and Ontario One Step Closer to Protecting The World's Largest Freshwater Lake
Posted November 23, 2005

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 23, 2005) - Canada and Ontario have taken an important step toward the establishment of a national marine conservation area of Canada (NMCA) in Lake Superior, by signing an agreement in principle on the future transfer of the lakebed and lands within the proposed NMCA from the province to Canada.

The agreement signing was announced today by the Right Honourable Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada, Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, the Honourable Stephane Dion, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, and the Honourable David Ramsay, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. Both governments will now work toward reaching a final agreement and the establishment of an NMCA in Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake by surface area. The lake holds close to 10 per cent of the global supply of surface fresh water and over half of the water in the Great Lakes.

"This agreement represents an important achievement in the implementation of Canada's federal Marine Protected Areas strategy and our Action Plan to Protect Canada's Natural Heritage," said Prime Minister Martin. "Together with Ontario, we will create a legacy for all Canadians, as well as new economic and employment opportunities for residents of Lake Superior's north shore communities."

"Today's announcement recognizes that Ontario's natural heritage is a national treasure," said Premier McGuinty. "Our government is committed to preserving and protecting our province's water and land for future generations because it is the right thing to do - both economically and environmentally."

"The sheer size and magnificence of this Great Lake shape the special connection that Canadians as well as visitors from around the world have with it today. It instils a sense of respect in even the most skilled captain or accomplished paddler," said Minister Dion. "The positive public response to our NMCA initiative confirms that local people want to see the natural beauty and ruggedness of this extraordinary seascape preserved for future generations, in a way that will allow it to be used for recreational enjoyment while strengthening the economic fabric of the north shore."

"Establishing a national marine conservation area of Canada in Lake Superior will build on the extensive work Ontario has already done in protecting the cultural, recreational, and natural values of the islands and shoreline through Ontario's Great Lakes Heritage Coast Initiative," said Minister Ramsay. "It also demonstrates Ontario's continued commitment to protecting one of the most valuable water resources in our province."

"Today is a great day for Canadians and residents of the north shore," said the Honourable Joe Comuzzi, MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North. "It marks a milestone in our ongoing work to establish an NMCA in Lake Superior."

With the signing of the agreement in principle, negotiations with Ontario toward a final agreement to establish an NMCA in Lake Superior will now begin.

Discussions will also be continued with First Nations in the region to reach a shared understanding regarding their future role in the management and operation of the NMCA, the economic opportunities it will create for Aboriginal communities, and the protection of cultural resources. Local people and First Nations will be actively engaged as stewards of the NMCA.

The proposed NMCA would extend from Thunder Cape at the tip of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in the west, to Bottle Point just east of Terrace Bay, and out to the Canada-U.S. border. It would include the waters of Black Bay and Nipigon Bay, and encompass just over 10,000 square kilometres of lakebed as well as the overlying waters, along with a number of islands, shoals and some of the mainland.

When it is ultimately created, the NMCA in Lake Superior will become Canada's largest national marine conservation area, and the first to be established under the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act, which became law in June 2002.

"This initiative is an example of the Government's new Project Green initiative to create a healthier environment and a more vigorous economy by uniting all Canadians to build a more sustainable future," said Minister Dion.

NMCAs are part of Parks Canada's family of protected natural areas. The goal is to represent the natural and cultural characteristics of each natural marine region of Canada, and to demonstrate how resource protection can exist in harmony and balance with sustainable use. Research and monitoring activities planned for the Lake Superior NMCA will also increase knowledge about this large freshwater ecosystem, while interpretive programming and outreach activities will help Canadians to more fully understand and explore Lake Superior.

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