Sustainable seafood on the Hill: Australian ocean policy served with a local twist

While MPs await prorogation and a Speech from the Throne, WWF took advantage of the lull in the Parliamentary schedule to host an ‘Oceans on the Hill’ event. Some lucky timing allowed a guest from the Australian public service to swing by Ottawa on her way back from a visit to the US. WWF, The Australian High Commission, and All Party Ocean Caucus teamed up to host Donna Petrachenko to speak to MPs, Senators and staff about Australia’s recent efforts in setting aside a significant amount of their ocean under special management areas and a world leading amount in fully designated Marine Protected Areas.

australian high commission oceans caucus event
© Gayle McClelland / WWF-Canada
l-r: Bruce Soar, Deputy High Commissioner, Australian High Commission; Linda Nowlan, WWF-Canada; Andrew Dumbrille, WWF-Canada; Donna Petrachenko, Guest Speaker

As with many conservation success stories there is an economic silver lining. A landmark 2009 study by the Allen Consulting Group showed that far from curtailing industry, the proposed network of marine sanctuaries would bring tangible economic benefits.  The study projected a 20 per cent increase in tourism revenues as well as longer-term benefits such as healthier fish stocks and protection from shocks such as those faced by Australia’s lobster fishery.
The politics are also interesting. This effort was developed under the John Howard conservative government and was completed by the current Labor government in 2012.
Good politics, healthy oceans, an economic boost, not a bad story to tell our Canadian elected officials as they head into the 2015 election cycle.
australian high commission sustainable seafood
© Gayle McClelland / WWF-Canada

As much as I’d like to say that the Parliamentary audience was fully attentive to the policy, there was another draw of course – the food. Sustainable Canadian seafood was on the menu with BC Manilla clams, Nova Scotia Mussels, Rock Crab from Belle River PEI, and other Canadian seafood prepared by the Parliamentary restaurant for this event.
The food seemed to do most of the policy making actually. Sustainability sure tastes good!