Mapping, researching and restoring Canada’s blue carbon

With the world’s longest coastline, Canada has a major opportunity to contribute to ocean carbon storage. Blue carbon—carbon stored in coastal ecosystems such as seagrass meadows and salt marshes—can play a significant role in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss while supporting coastal communities. Blue carbon ecosystems can store carbon for thousands of years, provide valuable habitat for marine species, and strengthen the blue economy by supporting fisheries, recreation and tourism. However, when these ecosystems are degraded or destroyed, they can become sources of GHGs. Rising sea levels, warming ocean temperatures and invasive species threaten the resiliency and carbon sink potential of blue carbon habitats.

Canada has yet to build a national inventory of blue carbon ecosystems, hampering stewardship, protection and restoration efforts. Furthermore, critical research gaps remain including assessing the potential and limitations of blue carbon as a nature-based solution. This work should complement other efforts to protect and improve the management of marine habitats (see Delivering on Canada’s land and ocean protection commitments) and should be led by DFO with support from PC, StatCan, and ECCC.

Recommended Investment:

$100 million over five years for the following [DFO]:

  • Mapping and monitoring by coastal communities. Working with communities will provide local employment opportunities while informing Canada’s blue carbon inventory and supporting stewardship initiatives.
  • Research by large-scale multidisciplinary collaborations and small-scale community groups to fill knowledge gaps on carbon storage, sources and amounts of GHG emissions, vulnerability of blue carbon ecosystems to climate change, and the long- term efficacy of restoration efforts.
  • Restoration of blue carbon ecosystems and key coastal processes. This will increase ecosystem resilience and support ecosystem services.
  • Creation of a sustainable funding mechanism for monitoring and stewardship of blue carbon ecosystems.
  • $5 million annually to develop intergovernmental mechanisms to strengthen the stewardship and protection of blue carbon ecosystems across jurisdictions.