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Trump’s ocean policy could spell trouble for Canada

Staff Writer |
Canadian environmental advocates say there’s reason to worry about the implications for Canada of U.S. President Donald Trump’s new ocean policy, which emphasizes economic growth.

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Trump issued an executive order Wednesday that sets a new U.S. policy direction for oceans and the Great Lakes. It replaces a 2010 order made by his predecessor, president Barrack Obama, that focused more heavily on environmental protections.

Obama issued his 2010 policy directive in the wake of the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In his order he called the spill “a stark reminder of how vulnerable our marine environments are, and how much communities and the Nation rely on healthy and resilient ocean and coastal ecosystems.”

While Trump’s order does reference environmental benefits his policy directive focuses on issues of economic growth, including the promotion of ocean industries and the transportation of American goods, and security. Trump also said he would reduce the size of the related ocean policy committee and cut the regional committees Obama established.

The new policy comes on the heels of the U.S. refusal to sign on to the non-binding plastics charter during the G7 meetings earlier this month.

The new policy direction “will be destructive to the marine environment,” said Christianne Wilhemson, the executive director of the B.C.-based Georgia Strait Alliance.

“If you treat the ocean as a resource for humans to pillage you will see more pollution, you will see destruction of habitat, you will see destruction of species,” she said.

She added that it’s a concern for coastal communities in Canada, who share ecosystems with the Americans.

“If more resource development is allowed, if protection is repealed then that will have an absolute impact on our ecosystems, on the southern resident killer whales and salmon because it’s a shared water. It’s incredibly disheartening,” she said.

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