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Daily report for 8 February 2023

5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5)

Hannah Stewart, IMPAC5 Secretariat, introduced the day’s theme: advancing conservation in the blue economy. Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary-General, underscored that funds dedicated for achieving Goal 14 on life below water, are the lowest among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Cloy-e-iss Judith Sayers, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, highlighted some of the Hupacasath First Nation practices, including training young people on traditional fishing practices, the use and processing of plants, seaweed industries, fish processing, among others, all based on the term hishuk’ish tsawalk (“everything is one, everything is connected”), because “you can’t have a blue economy unless you have the involvement and consent of Indigenous Peoples.” She criticized some of Canada’s practices that harm sustainable development, such as licensing oil pipelines, low environmental standards for cruise ships, and overfishing. She called for the revival of an economy in line with the traditions of Indigenous laws, because “if we don’t raise our voices now, we will not have a future.”

Titouan Bernicot, Coral Gardeners, shared that after witnessing a coral bleach event as a teenager, he began his journey to becoming a coral gardener. By bringing together French Polynesia’s heritage and top-frontier technology, they are restoring reefs, creating awareness, and constantly innovating to conserve the Ocean and reefs.

Sustainable Fisheries Management

Anthony Charles, Saint Mary’s University, described the role of coastal communities and small-scale fisheries in leading the way on environmental stewardship and marine conservation.

Antonio Caló, University of Palermo, discussed the role of MPAs in providing clear ecological benefits, even in the presence of some extractive activities, such as small-scale fisheries, as long as they are sustainable. He also emphasized MPAs socio-economic benefits.

Juan Pablo Caldas, Conservation International, discussed the “EcoGourmet” business model to promote value chains between commercial partners and community-based organizations to advance sustainability in fishery resources.

The Impact of an IMPAC Congress: The Case of Chile with IMPAC4 in 2017

Diego Flores, Ministry of Environment, Chile, stressed that it was the first IMPAC held in Latin America and highlighted the challenges for a developing country to organize such a relevant worldwide marine conservation event. He underscored the Congress as a milestone in Chilean and global history relating to MPAs promotion, and acknowledged the Call for Action during the High-Level meeting as an enabler for MPAs thriving in the country, the region, and the world.

Carolina Jarpa, The Pew Charitable Trust, highlighting the professional roles of people involved in the organization of IMPAC4, talked about efforts to show respect for the identity of local communities and hear their voices, as well as actions to reduce the environmental footprint of the meeting.

Yacqueline Montecinos, WWF Chile, presented on the opportunity IMPAC4 provided to showcase NGOs’ leadership in marine conservation.

The ensuing discussion addressed the obstacles of full participation due to the lack of funding, visa issues, maintenance expenses, and language constraints. A First Nation member lamented that IMPAC5 organizers denied the request to advertise a traditional full moon watching ceremony performed outside the meeting venue, which she felt excluded her culture and people.

Creating an Ocean Echo – Mobilizing a Youth-Led Movement to Support 30X30

Maanit Goes, EarthEcho, gave an overview of the organisation’s work, including their Youth Leadership Council, which provides a forum for discussion, community building, and networking across geographies, and their policy advocacy work at the US Congress. He highlighted that environmental advocacy can be discouraging at times and emphasized that community-building helps in creating supportive environments, reminding youth leaders that they are not alone.

Bruna Valença, EarthEcho, spoke about the youth-led movement and effort to build support for the accomplishment of 30 by 30 in Brazil, including challenges faced during unfavorable political situations.

Amy Kenney, National Ocean Protection Coalition, reminded participants of the saying that “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go farther, go together”, stating that this guides their coalition building work creating youth power within Ocean conservation.

Amelia Fortgang, EarthEcho, presented on their Connect to Protect work, building a digital community for youth-driven Ocean action, encouraging youth leaders to join their GenSea network for connecting and collaborating with their growing community of fellow Ocean advocates.

Social Equity and Marine Conservation

Nathan Bennett, IUCN, called for more attention on “how” marine conservation is done, followed by group discussions on existing equity issues not addressed at IMPAC5, including: patriarchy and gender barriers, challenges facing immigrant youth, language and cost barriers, visa issues restricting participation, and racial inclusion and black history month. The panel then considered a range of topics relevant to equity in conservation.

Danika Kleiber, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US, spoke of her intersectional feminism, and stressed the importance of training to incorporate diversity in languages, cultures, and knowledges, alongside natural scientific training.

Elise Huffer, IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, spoke about equity in data-production and management, sharing insights into the inclusion of traditional knowledge in policy-making.

María José Barragán Paladines, Darwin Foundation, spoke of how the stories we share of biodiversity rich areas—in her case the Galapagos—often ignore human livelihoods.

Philip Akins, Marine Plan Partnership, called for an ethic of responsibility within governance thinking and practice.

Nathalie Ban, University of Victoria, underscored the importance of qualitative and narrative approaches for incorporating local communities’ perspectives and knowledges within marine conservation, as well as being open to the idea that MPAs may not always be the most appropriate approach.

Aulani Wilhelm, Conservation International, called attention to power dynamics in “inclusive” dialogues, asking “who is including who?”, explaining that often it is not a question about empowering people, but rather about getting “out of the way” for leaders on the ground.

Gina Waadluxan Kilguhlga: Lessons for MPAs Planning and Management Learned from Gwaii Haanas

Ernie Gladstone, Parks Canada, provided an overview of the Gwaii Haanas’ history over the last 30 years. Highlighting ownership as the main challenge, he stated that in 2021 Canada recognized the inherent Haida title over the area. Cindy Boyko, Council of the Haida Nation, acknowledged that reconciliation seems to be the new pathway, meaning working together and finding a place within themselves and understanding each other.

Lynn Lee, Parks Canada, and Gwiisihlgaa Dan McNeill, Haida Gwaii Integrated Advisory Committee, spoke of the Chiixuu Tll iinasdll kelp forest restauration project, rooted in Haida ethics and values for the building of trust and knowledge. Grant Dovey, Underwater Harvesters Association, presented a project on commercial fishing in Gwaii Haanas, where they developed a map with zoning for commercial fisheries in collaboration with fishers and commercial fishing industry. He noted that the possibility of dialogue and discussing trade-offs allowed to develop a map that significantly created more catch and fishing access, while achieving similar ecological and economic targets.

Nang Jingwas Russ Jones, Council of the Haida Nation, presented a project in Gwaii Haanas focused on enhancing marine safety and environmental protection through strengthened collaboration in order to reduce impacts and conflicts in local waterways associated with commercial shipping.

Ella-Kari Muhl, University of Waterloo, presented some conclusions of her PhD studies on measuring co-development of governance indicators to support the implementation of a land-sea-people plan in Gwaii Haanas.

Sustainable Finance for MPAs

Valdemar Andrade, Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association, highlighted the case study of Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve, where together with Blue Finance they developed a business model based on raising revenue from sustainable tourism to support the budget of the Reserve.

Grace Gatapang, Blue Alliance Philippines, discussed their work with Blue Finance in the Northern Oriental Mindoro to improve the management and financial sustainability of the MPAs by integrating science and community-based approaches, as well as tools to generate sustainable revenue through mangrove restoration and tourism projects.

Masanori Kobayashi, The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, described the mozuku seaweed farming and coral plantation in Onnason, Okinawa, as a blue finance solution.

Torsten Thiele, Global Ocean Trust, highlighted the importance of sustainable finance as a tool for the high seas. 

Closing Session

Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, noting that “we have momentum at IMPAC5”, urged everyone to protect the Ocean through Indigenous-led processes.

Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada, urged everyone to advocate for Ocean protection beyond this congress.

Melissa White, IMPAC5 Youth Professionals Committee, acknowledging their inherited duties, stated that we all have one mother, Mother Earth, and that without the voices of young people and traditional knowledge, we will not succeed. Sandra Schwartz, CPAWS, showing appreciation for the First Nations hosts that received all participation onto their territories, highlighted the Canadian progress on new MPAs announced during IMPAC5: New Federal Policy National Conservation Areas; Canada’s pathway to 25% conservation of marine and coastal areas by 2025; and the new guidance to implement minimal protection standards for new federal MPAs.

Bruno Oberle, IUCN, reflected that this is the first international gathering since the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which gave the opportunity to address “a sea” of commitments on oceanic conservation with different stakeholders, and recognize and support the custodians of the Ocean.

Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced the creation of a “magic paddle”, made of cedar and abalone shells, by Gerry Sheena from the Interior Salish Nation, entitled “The Journey”,which has engraved the names of all IMPAC hosts. She then announced that Senegal would be the host of IMPAC6.

Brett Sparrow, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Musqueam Nation, thanked participants for listening and learning about their country. Sxwíxwtn Wilson Williams, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw Squamish Nation, reminded participants that, as they pass the paddle to Senegal, “we prepare for a stronger journey to protect 30% of the Ocean.” He invited participants to bring back “the smoke signal” to their homes, with what they have witnessed and learned.

Charlene Aleck, səlilwətaɬ Tsleil-Waututh Nation, sang a song to call her ancestors to provide for participants’ safe return home. She invited everyone to “visit the water, touch the water and leave some of your good work with her and take some of her strength back home with you.” The meeting ended with a traditional dance performance by the first nations.

In the Corridors

Cloy-e-iss Judith Sayers shared on Wednesday that her own culture does not have a term for “conservation or “sustainability” because these are already encapsulated in the Nuu-chah-nulth culture and language, reflecting the way they live with the Ocean and nature – hishuk’ish tsawalk, meaning “everything is one, everything is connected.” Uncle Sol, who gifted many meeting rooms with heartfelt songs, told that Indigenous Peoples are currently looking to be included in decision-making within intergovernmental processes, but highlighted that they have already been involved in decision-making about the planet long before the people in government around the world put themselves in charge. Participants heard about respecting diverse cultures, knowledge, and languages around the world, but just like paper parkspaper respect is also an existing issue. Titouan Bernicot´s determination to restore coral reefs despite lack of academic credentials, used as a means to exclude him, and Asha de Vos´ journey against established colonial structures towards successful conservation management projects, underscores  the continued presence of “gatekeepers” in research, conservation, and decision-making processes. As participants were preparing to head home, one of the messages was clear: “hishuk’ish tsawalk” and work to bring greater equity in Ocean conservation.

Further information

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