8 February 2023
First Nations Highlight Ocean’s Role in Their Survival, Open IMPAC5
Photo Credit: Lynn Wagner
story highlights

Guided by IMPAC5’s five themes, the Congress’ numerous sessions focused on the conservation of the Ocean and its resources.

Participants considered lessons learned from scaling up MPA networks across a global marine portfolio to “make 30x30 a reality”.

The fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) opened in Vancouver, Canada, to explore issues related to marine protected areas (MPAs). Cultural and musical performances and ceremonies brought joy and introspection to participants and set the tone for discussions. In subsequent sessions, delegates learned about the latest research and conservation outcomes.

The opening ceremony took place on 3 February. Representatives from the host First Nations welcomed participants, including Indigenous leaders “travelling far and wide.” On behalf of the Musqueam Nation, elected chief yəχʷyaχʷələq Wayne Sparrow reminded participants that his is a fishing Nation, and highlighted the importance of marine protection for the very survival of his people.

Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, underscored “the vital role of Oceans in people’s lives, serving as a source of food, protection, transportation, renewable energy, and solace, as well as acting as a natural carbon sink in the fight against climate change.”

Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), stated in a video that IMPAC5 is an “official activity” of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. He highlighted the role of the Congress in fostering implementation of the new Global Biodiversity Framework and stressed the need to continue protecting the Ocean with the active participation of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. He said the future high seas treaty “will set ground rules for Ocean conservation.”

Mary Simon, Canada’s first Indigenous Governor General, said the “Ocean is a transformative power” and invited everyone to work on “healing the waters.”

Guided by IMPAC5’s five themes, day two of the Congress featured numerous sessions dedicated to the conservation of the Ocean and its resources. Participants considered lessons learned from scaling up MPA networks across a global marine portfolio to “make 30×30 a reality.”

Among other issues, they also discussed:

  • Community-based management of coral reefs and conservation areas;
  • Implementation of four marine spatial plans by the Marine Plan Partnership First Nations and British Columbia Provincial Partners;
  • Contribution of marine other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) to the global area-based conservation target;
  • Marine conservation and sustainable aquaculture, for MPAs and coastal communities;
  • Geopolitics and transboundary MPAs; and
  • Migratory species.

Jointly hosted by the Host First Nations – xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-waututh Nation) – together with the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), IMPAC5 runs through 9 February. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) is providing daily coverage of selected sessions. [IMPAC5 Website]

related events