Marine Protected Area Network for the West Coast to be Discussed at IMPAC5

Marine protected areas will not only enhance a region’s biodiversity, but aid in economic development by revitalizing fish stocks. Photo credit: Franky on Dreamstime

Beginning this week, Vancouver is set to host one of the world’s foremost marine conservation gatherings, and West Coast Now is committed to providing on-the-ground coverage.

This event is officially known as the International Marine Protected Areas Congress, but many simply refer to it as IMPAC5. It is scheduled to run from February 3rd to the 9th.

IMPAC5 is a crucial event for both advancing marine conservation and ensuring the health of coastal jobs, the coastal economy, coastal communities, and Indigenous employment.  

Indigenous knowledge will play a crucial role in the development and implementation of MPAs in BC. Photo credit: IMPAC5 on Facebook

Prominent figures, including residents and workers from the BC coast, Indigenous leaders, scientists, industry representatives, and elected officials, will take center stage. One of the main topics of discussion will be Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). In particular, attendees will be discussing the proposed Great Bear Sea Marine Protected Area Network, which, if implemented, will provide varying degrees of protection for 30,000 square kilometres of the Great Bear Sea, which runs from north of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border. As it is a marine protected area network, the Great Bear Sea Marine Protected Area Network will consist of numerous MPAs spread across the Great Bear Sea. The individual MPAs that make up the Network have been specifically selected to defend important marine life habitats, such as nurseries and feeding grounds. 

By defending fish habitats, MPAs provide the needed space and time that marine species need to thrive, resulting in strong, sustainable fish stocks. Therefore, in the end, MPA networks support local fisheries and promote sustainable economic activities along the coast.

A diverse group of stakeholders will be at the helm of BC’s new network of marine protected areas. Photo credit: IMPAC5 on Facebook

The involvement of First Nations leaders and communities in IMPAC5 highlights the critical role they play in ensuring marine sustainability. Indigenous communities have a deep connection with the ocean and its resources, and their knowledge and practices are integral to effective and sustainable marine management. The emphasis on co-management and Indigenous participation also aligns with the creation of Indigenous jobs in both fisheries and MPA management. 

West Coast Now will be dispatching a dedicated reporting team to cover IMPAC5 throughout the entire conference. Just like West Coast Now, Strong Coast firmly believes that the decisions and topics discussed during the event have the potential to positively influence the future of BC’s coast, so that it remains an economic engine for our children and grandchildren.

Check out this excellent article by West Coast Now to learn more about the IMPAC5 Congress and Marine Protected Areas.