Dr. Lisa (Diz) Glithero,
National Lead, Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition
Canadians typically know the ocean best as a source of food, resources, recreation and livelihoods. However, the ocean is also a crucial influencer of climate, weather, biodiversity and ecosystems.
In fact, two-thirds of the world’s oxygen is produced by marine plankton. And yet, year after year in classrooms across the country, teachers draw trees on the board with an arrow pointing outwards labelled O2 (oxygen) and an arrow pointing inwards labelled CO2 (carbon dioxide). In my over 40 years as a student and educator, only once have I witnessed someone include the ocean in this diagram.
Currently, there are 62 faculties of education in Canada, and fewer than half offer elective courses focused on Environmental Sustainability Education (ESE) and climate change; of that ESE content, very little mentions the ocean. Equally, ocean-related content is sparse in kindergarten to high school curricula.
Advancing marine conservation in Canada – and achieving (ideally surpassing) our target of protecting 30 per cent of marine areas by 2030 – requires collaboration across scales, regions, cultures and sectors. Indigenous communities and guardian programs are already leading the way in protecting lands and waters. Their vital work must be better amplified and supported. Other important drivers include advocates, policy-makers and solution-oriented non-governmental organizations. Sustained government commitments are essential, as is responsible industry investment and sustainable and equitable blue economy innovation.
Education is no less foundational to this societal change, though it is much less supported in practice, policy and funding. Teacher education, along with provincial/territorial curricula, needs to prioritize the integration of ocean-climate education as part of broader ESE – and together with Indigenous education.
The ultimate outcome of marine conservation lies in current and future Canadians self-identifying as ocean (water) stewards, leaders and innovators. By exhibiting a shared set of ocean values, we can foster a greater ethic of care and sustained action to ensure healthy marine environments and community well-being.
Executive Director, IMPAC5 Secretariat, Fisheries and Oceans Canada
In June 2022, we will welcome the world to Vancouver to take part in IMPAC5: the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress.
IMPAC5 will be the largest global ocean event to date focused on marine protected area (MPA) practitioners and managers from a broad spectrum of governments, non-governmental organizations, academia and other stakeholders.
IMPAC5 is a watershed opportunity to advance marine conservation in Canada and across the planet as we and other nations aligned with the Global Ocean Alliance and the High Ambition Coalition strive to protect 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030.
IMPAC5 is presented jointly by the Host First Nations of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh; the Province of British Columbia; the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS); the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Government of Canada.
The congress will focus on five themes that raise questions around building a global marine protected area network that integrates cultural, economic and well-being related activities with protecting “blue nature” on a global scale.
The congress will feature discussions on innovation and transformational change, Indigenous Peoples leadership and the voice of young professionals. From this framework, participants will recommend concrete actions to create a global network of marine protected areas to address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
IMPAC5 will end with a one-day leadership summit on 30 June, where ministers from participating governments and other leaders will hear the results of the congress, address key issues, and make and affirm commitments to expanding ocean protection.
On World Ocean Day, we are launching our call for proposals for e-posters, symposiums and other presentations that will address the challenges and essential issues facing the global ocean. For more information, please visit www.IMPAC5.ca.
Join us in Vancouver where together we will take a stand to protect the ocean.
Manager, Mushkegowuk Marine Region
In our Cree culture and language, we call the land and sea covering western James Bay and southern Hudson Bay ”the birthing place.” The diverse coastal ecosystems and distinct seascape of our Mushkegowuk traditional territories support an abundance of life, such as beluga whales, walruses, seals, polar bears, brook trout, capelin, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl and plants like eel grass, due to relatively warm, shallow and low-salinity conditions.
Billions of birds use the area to nest or to refuel on their long journeys. When they travel to the USA, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean to spend the winter, they link all these nations throughout the hemisphere.
We have the third largest wetland – and one of the richest carbon storehouses – on Earth, and we see our peatlands as “breathing and cooling lands” for the planet.
We began our nation-to-nation dialogue with the Government of Canada, through Parks Canada, about an Indigenous-led National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) in our traditional area. Once established, this area will cover over 90,000 square kilometres and stretch from the Quebec border to the Manitoba border. This will demonstrate that Indigenous leadership, through shared Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and scientific studies make conservation more effective. It will also make a huge contribution of meeting Canada’s targets of conserving 25 per cent of our oceans by 2025.
Once agreements with Canada on the marine conservation task are in place, we are prepared to begin planning to conserve the terrestrial area, which is closely interwoven with the marine project and environment. All rivers from inland flow to the James Bay and Hudson Bay – and this includes major rivers such as the Attawapiskat, Albany, Ekwan and Winisk and thousands other streams.
We see this work as an opportunity to work with Ontario and Canada to advance marine (and terrestrial) conservation in Canada and set a global example by showcasing the achievements our partnership can attain.
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