(Vancouver, BC) – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) participated in the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) that took place in Vancouver, BC 3-9 February 2023 advocating for the creation of Marine Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs).
“I’d like to thank the First Nations of xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) for hosting this event on their traditional lands. As original stewards of our marine and coastal waters, First Nations are uniquely positioned to lead efforts to protect, conserve, and sustainably manage our oceans,” said Assembly of First Nations (AFN) British Columbia Regional Chief Terry Teegee. “The AFN is mandated by Resolution 41/2021, Marine Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) to advance Marine IPCAs and to advocate for a whole-of-government approach across all responsible federal departments to support the establishment of IPCAs in terrestrial and marine environments. IPCAs are a perfect example of how First Nations are reasserting their authority and using their governance and knowledge systems to take care of their lands and waters.”
In advance of IMPAC5, The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) published a report on Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) in marine and coastal waters, providing recommendations on how the Government of Canada can support First Nations in establishing marine IPCAs. The detailed report identifies recommendations for overcoming constraints to the wide establishment of marine IPCAs.
“The AFN calls on the Government of Canada and its officials and representatives to take immediate action to support First Nations in establishing and advancing Marine Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas,” said Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek.
“The right approach is a rights-based approach. For far too long First Nation Marine Conservation priorities have not been recognized in the same way we consider territorial conversation. There is an urgency to do this work, and getting it right. First Nations have the solutions. With the significant decline of marine species and biodiversity is occurring at local and global scales, and there is ample scientific evidence and traditional knowledge that are clear about protecting marine areas and mitigating the impacts,” Regional Chief Adamek added. “Additional evidence demonstrates that Indigenous-managed areas contain more biodiversity than existing protected areas.”
The report titled “Marine Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas” builds on a significant body of previous work on IPCAs and applies these learnings to the actions federal agencies should take to advance marine IPCAs. It identifies a total of 21 short- and long-term recommendations. The short-term recommendations will allow Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to support the establishment of IPCAs by First Nations through a process of co-designation. The long-term recommendations apply to all federal agencies that support establishing marine IPCAs and will require legislative and regulatory reform.
The Government of Canada has committed to protecting 25% of oceans by 2025 and 30% by 2030. To date, Canada has conserved nearly 14 percent of its oceans through the establishment of marine protected areas (MPAs), and other effective area-based conservation measures. This includes 14 Oceans Act MPAs, three National Marine Conservation Areas, one marine National Wildlife Area, and 59 marine refuges.
“As we stand on the dawn of a new era, we must recognize the importance of self-governance and our responsibility to manage territories and make decisions related to them. We must also work together to ensure that our territories are managed in a way that respects and honours our traditional knowledge and relationship to the land. This is vital for Canada to achieve its conservation goals by 2030 in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Canada’s Bill C-15: An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and British Columbia’s Bill C41: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.” said Assembly of First Nations (AFN) British Columbia Regional Chief Terry Teegee.
During the event, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement was reached between the Government of Canada and the Council of the Haida Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Pacheedaht First Nation and Quatsino First Nation to cooperatively manage the proposed Tang.ɢwan — ḥačxwiqak — Tsig̱is Marine Protected Area (MPA), a large ecologically unique ocean area located on average 150 kilometers off the west coast of Vancouver Island. In addition, after more than a decade of work, 15 coastal First Nations, the Government of Canada, and the Government of BC jointly announced the endorsement of the Marine Protected Area Network Action Plan for the Northern Shelf Bioregion. Finally, the Government of Canada and Mamalilikulla First Nation announced fisheries closures and the establishment of a marine refuge, to help protect the ecologically and culturally significant area of Gwaxdlala/Nalaxdlala in Knight Inlet on the coast of British Columbia. Mamalilikulla had first declared this area as an IPCA in November 2021 and is the first marine refuge to be recognized through the Northern Shelf Bioregion MPA Network planning process.
For more details and to get your copy of the full and summary reports, please visit www.afn.ca.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
Assembly of First Nations