Canada kicks off IMPAC5 with a new National Marine Conservation Areas policy

New policy strengthens ocean protection in NMCAs 

February 3, 2023, Unceded territory of the səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) celebrates Parks Canada’s new National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCAs) policy, published ahead of the opening ceremony for the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) in Vancouver, BC.   

NMCAs are marine protected areas established by Parks Canada. The Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site was the first area to be designated under this legal tool in 2010. The new policy has been under development for a few years and aims to provide national direction on the establishment and management of NMCAs.  

CPAWS and our supporters provided considerable feedback during the public consultation that took place in 2019. The new policy reflects many of CPAWS’ recommendations, including:  

  • Providing clarity on the framework to support and recognize Indigenous leadership and co-management;  
  • Prioritizing ecological protection in the management objectives of all NMCAs;  
  • Requiring that NMCAs include a fully protected zone, with the ultimate goal of full protection of the majority of each NMCA; 
  • Upholding the minimum protection standards announced by the federal government in 2019 and the prohibition of bottom trawling, mining, oil and gas activities, and dumping in NMCAs; 
  • Ensuring that all activities allowed to occur inside NMCAs do not compromise ecological sustainability; and   
  • Considering the impacts of climate change on ecosystems in the management of NMCAs and identifying opportunities for climate change mitigation and resilience. 

CPAWS National and our chapters across the country look forward to working with our Indigenous Partners and Parks Canada to support implementation of the new policy and the establishment of new NMCAs in pursuit of Canada’s marine conservation target to protect 30% of the ocean in Canada by 2030.  

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About CPAWS  
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only charity dedicated to the protection of public land, freshwater and ocean with a strong national and regional presence across the country. Working in a way that respects the sovereignty and leadership of Indigenous nations, we are focused on conserving nature to respond to the dual crises of accelerated biodiversity loss and climate change. Our vision is that at least half of land, freshwater and ocean in Canada is permanently protected to sustain nature and people for current and future generations. For more information about CPAWS and the work we do to safeguard Canada’s natural heritage, visit Join our community on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Donate today. Take action.  

About IMPAC5 
On February 3-9, 2023, the world’s leading ocean conservation professionals will meet in Vancouver, Canada to chart a course towards protecting 30 % of the global ocean by 2030. The Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) will bring together ocean conservation professionals and high-level officials to inform, inspire, and act on marine protected areas. IMPAC5 will be jointly hosted by the Host First Nations—xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam Indian Band), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish Nation), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-waututh Nation)—together with the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Alongside the Congress, IMPAC5 will feature a number of exciting events, including the Ocean Festival. 

For more information, please contact:  

Tracy Walden 
National Director, Communications and Development, CPAWS 
[email protected]  

Jenn Brown 
Senior Communications Coordinator, Ocean Program, CPAWS 
[email protected]