Sable Island now officially protected

New bill to protect island under Canada National Parks Act

Peter Kent making Sable Island announcement
Environment Minister Peter Kent made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Photo: Patrick Wilson)

Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent was in Halifax today to officially announce the tabling of a bill to formally protect the Sable Island National Parks Reserve.

The Canadian government tabled the Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks Act which “is the legislation needed to protect Sable Island under the Canada National Parks Act,” said Kent.

Kent said the legislation “builds on the work done by the province of Nova Scotia, by federal agencies and by all the other stakeholders to preserve Sable Island for present and future generations.”

This represents the final stage in a process that began in October 2011, when Kent and Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter signed an agreement to turn Sable Island into Canada’s 43rd national park.

“The island truly is near and dear to our hearts and it’s near and dear to our maritime heritage,” said provincial Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker.

Parker said the province of Nova Scotia will introduce similar amendments in legislature this spring to “enshrine this protection in provincial law.”

The bill, which amends several other pieces of legislation in the process, also bans exploration drilling both on the 42-kilometre-long island and around the island within a 1.8-kilometre perimeter.

Sable Island Aerial
The 42-kilometre long island is Canada’s 43rd national park. (Photo: Environment Canada)

Sable Island National Park Reserve

Kent said the bill will give Parks Canada the authority needed to “protect its distinctive natural and
cultural features for all time.”

The island, which is located about 300 kilometres southeast of Halifax, is known for its many species of wildlife, most famously its wild horses. But the island is also home to the world’s largest breeding colony of grey seals, vast sand dunes and extensive beaches.

Plants grow on about one third of the island and there are several freshwater ponds.

The island is also well known for its many shipwrecks and has been dubbed the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Kent said that to manage the Sable Island National Park Reserve effectively, Parks Canada will continue to work with those who have been involved with Sable Island in the past, “tapping into their valuable knowledge and their experience.”

“For supporters of Sable Island and for all Canadians really, this day is a day for celebration,” said Kent.

Wild horses on Sable Island
Sable Island is home to many species of wildlife, including the most famous wild horses. (Photo: Parks Canada)