“It’s time to roll up our sleeves” says WWF as global marine community meet in Vancouver to triple ocean protection by 2030

Posted on 31 January 2023

Vancouver, Canada (31 January 2023) – Coming shortly in the wake of COP15, at the Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC5) beginning in Vancouver, Canada, this week (3-9 February), WWF is calling on the thousands of policymakers and practitioners attending to ‘roll up their sleeves’ to accelerate global ocean protection from 8% to 30% in just eight short years.
The goal to protect and conserve at least 30% of the world’s marine and coastal areas was adopted by 196 countries under the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) at COP15 in Montreal, in December. IMPAC5 is the first subsequent opportunity for the global ocean community to come together to share lessons and strategies to implement these targets.

“COP15 marked a historic inflection point in conservation efforts for nature, but now we need to see how high-level government commitments can be operationalised on an everyday basis to enable well-managed, scientifically designed protected area networks,” says Pepe Clarke, Practice Leader for Oceans at WWF International. 

“If successful, the 2030 target to halt and reverse nature loss will be met through large-scale international initiatives alongside local, community-led conservation measures that directly support livelihoods and well-being – and many other efforts that fit between those ends of the spectrum. There are many paths to success, but all require that the rights and knowledge of indigenous people and coastal communities are recognized and honored. 

“IMPAC5 will be a space for sharing, learning and listening to one another. Inclusive decision-making and long-term conservation finance will be critical to the success of the nature-positive future we envision for our ocean,” Clarke adds.

The global meeting comes as momentum builds around the long-awaited High Seas Treaty – anticipated to be finalized in March this year – which would finally provide a globally recognised mechanism to designate representative networks of protected areas in this great global commons. The waters beyond national jurisdiction, known as the high seas, comprise nearly two-thirds of the ocean’s area, but staggeringly, only roughly 1% of this huge swath of the planet is protected.

The world’s ocean has experienced dramatic change over the past century, with unsustainable fishing driving declines in wild fish populations in every region of the world. The effects of overfishing on the ocean are compounded by coastal development and habitat destruction, pollution, climate change and ocean acidification. 

Many ocean areas play a key role for important species of sharks, tuna, whales and sea turtles, and support billions of dollars annually in economic activity. As WWF outlined in its “Reviving the Ocean Economy” report, the goods and services that flow from the ocean and coasts are worth at least US$2.5 trillion each year, and the overall value of the ocean as an asset is 10 times that.

The ocean also faces new potential threats such as deep seabed mining, a nascent industry with the potential to cause irreparable harm to fragile deep sea ecosystems. WWF is supporting global calls for a moratorium on deep seabed mining.

WWF believes a nature-positive future for the ocean can be forged by using proven approaches and tools that allow marine ecosystems to recover over time such as targeted species conservation efforts, science-based fisheries management, community-led coastal conservation and marine protected and conserved areas.

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Notes to Editors
For further information and interview requests, please contact: news@wwfint.org

WWF is supporting the participation of six indigenous and community leaders from four countries at IMPAC5 who be collaborating in the session: ‘Indigenous and Coastal Communities' Leadership: Embedding Centuries of Traditional Knowledge Into Practice to Accelerate Community-Led Conservation’ running on 6 February 2-3:30pm PST. 

WWF sessions at IMPAC5 below (in Pacific Standard Time), please find the full program here.
  • 4 Feb 11:30-12:30 Supporting Strong Conservation Outcomes From MPA Network Planning: ENGO Perspectives On The Northern Shelf Bioregion MPA Network, British Columbia
  • 5 Feb 11:30am WAFO WAPI The protection path of Wafo Island, Chile, Its People and Its Biodiversity
  • 6 Feb 2-3:30pm Indigenous and Coastal Communities' Leadership: Embedding Centuries of Traditional Knowledge Into Practice to Accelerate Community-Led Conservation Knowledge sharing session
  • 6 Feb 2-3:30pm Resistance to Deep-Sea Mining – Voices from Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Across the Pacific
  • 6 Feb 2-3:30pm State of Blue Carbon in Canada
  • 6 Feb 4-5pm Managing The Impacts Of Shipping In Canadian Marine Protected Areas
  • 6 Feb 6-7pm Harnessing Blue Carbon to Expand Marine Protected Areas in Canada
  • 7 Feb 4-5:30pm Indigenous and Local Communities Marine Conservation Initiatives in the 30x30 Decade
  • 8 Feb 1:00-2:30pm Inclusive and Effective Ocean Conservation at Scale: ArcNet – an Arctic Ocean Network of Priority Areas for Conservation

The Fifth International Marine Protected Areas Congress (3-9 February 2023) 
IMPAC5 is an opportunity for the global community of marine conservation managers, practitioners and decision makers to exchange knowledge, experience and best practices to strengthen the conservation of marine biodiversity and to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the ocean. Over 4,000 in-person and 2,000 virtual attendees are expected.

About WWF
WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 30 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.
The unveiling of a new sign that marks the new Marine Protected Area (MPA) off the coast of Vanua Levu, Fiji.  The Fijian government has committed to establish a network of marine protected areas (MPA) by 2020. The full extent will cover 30 % of its territorial waters, or 390,000 sq km.
© © Brent Stirton / Getty Images