OTTAWA (AFP) — Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday announced the creation of the largest freshwater marine protected area in the world, spanning more than one million hectares of Lake Superior.
The new Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area will include the lakebed, islands and north shorelands within its 10,000-square kilometer (3,860-mile) boundaries, Harper said in a statement.
Supporters of the new park include Britain's Duke of Edinburgh, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and former Canadian astronaut Roberta Bondar.
"It's a great day for peregrine falcons, eagles, osprey, bears, wolves, caribou and of course, those deep cold-water fish like lake trout, whitefish and walleye that school in the (lake's) sparkling clear water unparalleled anywhere," said Monte Hummel of WWF and one-time canoe guide in the area.
"This is the kind of natural wonder that makes Canada the envy of the world, and we do well to protect it for future generations, everywhere."
The waters, shoreline and islands of Lake Superior are among the most rugged and pristine in the world, their beauty celebrated by painters such as Canada's Group of Seven, and their history captured in song by Canadian icon Gordon Lightfoot.
The proposed boundaries of the marine park extend from Thunder Cape at the tip of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in the west, to Bottle Point just east of Terrace Bay, and south to the Canada-US boundary.
To the south, the conservation area would link to the US Isle Royale National Park -- a large island in the middle of Lake Superior famous for its isolated population of wolves.
To the north, the new conservation zone will anchor already protected lands and waters, including the Nipigon River, known for its world-record speckled trout; Lake Nipigon, where endangered woodland caribou calve on secluded islands; and Wabakimi Wilderness Park where the caribou spend winters.
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