The Salish Sea, regarded as some of the most biologically diverse and important waters in the world, did not make the cut for Canada’s tentative list for World Heritage Sites.
In August 2016, Canadians were invited to nominate the country’s most exceptional places to be future candidates for the UNESCO recognition.
Although a petition supporting the Salish Sea application garnered more than 1,000 signatures, the Ministerial Advisory Committee tasked with reviewing the 42 applications received did not endorse it.
“While the committee did not recommend that the Salish Sea be added to Canada’s tentative list for World Heritage Sites, it did remark that the Salish Sea is rich in natural diversity and has been home to First Nations for thousands of years,” stated Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna in response to the petition earlier this year. “This was a competitive process and the expert committee was asked to only recommend sites that they believed had the strongest potential to meet World Heritage standards and criteria.”
According to Conservation Photographer Cheryl Alexander, who’s been raising awareness about the importance of preserving the biodiversity of the Salish Sea, this decision was not a big surprise.
“It was a bit of a long-shot,” she told Oak Bay News. “But I think it raised a degree of awareness about the value of the Salish Sea.”
The Ministerial Advisory Committee recommended eight additions to Canada’s tentative list earlier this year. These eight additions joined six places that were already on Canada’s tentative list. Non-selected sites have an opportunity to submit a proposal again for the next tentative list.
Nanaimo resident Laurie Gourlay, who initiated the Salish Sea petition and had been advocating for the designation of the Salish Sea as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, died in November 2017.
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