March 28, 2023
(VANCOUVER, CANADA) –
From February 3rd-9th, 2023, the 5th International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) was co-hosted by the Canadian government and The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This conference brought together policymakers, conservationists, scientists, and stakeholders from around the world to exchange knowledge, experiences, and best practices in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Mission Blue was omnipresent at the Congress, with the Hope Spots program and the influential presence of Dr. Sylvia Earle.
The event underscored the importance of indigenous influence in ocean conservation, highlighting the invaluable knowledge and practices of indigenous communities. The focus on indigenous perspectives demonstrated a growing recognition of the vital role that traditional knowledge and practices play in marine conservation, acknowledging the need for greater collaboration and understanding between indigenous communities and the broader conservation community.
Dr. Sylvia Earle delivered a powerful keynote speech at IMPAC5. As a lifelong advocate for the ocean, Dr. Earle shared her vision for a future where humanity and the ocean can coexist harmoniously, emphasizing the critical role MPAs play in preserving marine biodiversity and ecosystems. She called on policymakers and stakeholders to support the establishment of more MPAs, urging them to take immediate action to protect the ocean.
The most significant event for Mission Blue at IMPAC5 was the side event co-hosted with MigraMar, entitled “An Ocean of Hope.” This gathering united Hope Spot champions from across the world, exploring reasons for hope and showcasing the efforts of individuals and organizations working tirelessly to conserve and protect special places in the Eastern Tropical Pacific and North Atlantic.
The speakers included Dr. Sylvia Earle and Shannon Rake from Mission Blue, along with co-host Dr. Erick Ross Salazar from MigraMar. Panelists included Dr. James Ketchum Pelagios Kakunja, Gulf of California, Mexico; Ilena Zanella Misión Tiburón, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica; Randall Arauz CREMA-Costa Rica, Cocos Island, Costa Rica; Dr. Alex Hearn USFQ, Galapagos Islands; Mario Gomez Beta Diversidad, Revillagigedo, Mexico; Professor David Johnson Seascape Consultants, Charlie-Gibbs Fracture Zone, North Atlantic; Aoife O Mahony Fair Seas, Greater Skellig Coast, Ireland.
“It’s so great to have many Hope Spot Champions and partners together at IMPAC5. “An Ocean of Hope” conveyed how exceptional the Champions are and allowed them to showcase their work and the results they are achieving. Hope Spot Champions are instrumental in working with local communities, spreading awareness and mobilizing action to protect the ocean. It is an honor to be able to share this platform to highlight their critical work,” said Hope Spot Program Manager, Shannon Rake.
Throughout the Conference, Dr. Earle participated in panels and side events that addressed crucial topics in ocean conservation. These included discussions on the high seas, indigenous knowledge, and deep-sea mining. The latter, hosted by Sails of Change, featured a preview of the eye-opening film “Deep Rising” followed by a panel discussion.
Additionally, our partners at the Sustainable Ocean Alliance organized a successful demonstration against deep-sea mining, raising awareness of this alarming threat to the ocean.
During a conversation hosted by CPAWS, Dr. Earle shared her journey in ocean conservation with Chris Michaels, the Ocean Editor from The Guardian. Dr. Earle’s insights and reflections provided a glimpse into the mind of a pioneer in the field and inspired attendees to take action in their own lives and communities. You can read the article in The Guardian here.
Many of Mission Blue’s partners played an active role at IMPAC5, showcasing their contributions to marine conservation. Marine Conservation Institute (MCI) presented the Blue Parks Awards, celebrating outstanding efforts in the creation and management of MPAs, while ProtectedSeas unveiled the Navigator Map – A Guide to Our Regulatory Seascape, a crucial tool in understanding the complex regulatory landscape of ocean conservation. SeaLegacy gave us a wonderful boost with their coverage and generous amplification not only of the event itself but also of Mission Blue and Hope Spots.
IMPAC5 was an incredible milestone not only for IUCN, Canada, Mission Blue and its partners but for a world population that depends on gatherings like these to push forward an agenda that will truly serve future generations. As the IMPAC5 Congress came to a close, it was clear that Mission Blue, Dr. Sylvia Earle and the Hope Spots program had left a lasting impact on the event and its participants. Together, we can create an ocean of hope, and ensure that future generations inherit a healthy, vibrant, and life-sustaining ocean. As Dr. Sylvia Earle says, “With knowing comes caring, and with caring, there is hope.”