CanPAC: A new tool to conserve and protect the Canadian eastern Arctic

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WWF-Canada released a new report today that shows how protected area networks can help marine life stay healthy and resilient despite a rapidly changing climate in the Canadian eastern Arctic. CanPAC (Canadian Arctic Marine Priority Areas for Conservation) highlights potential priority areas for conservation and is the first analysis of its kind in this region to show how network planning can be used to protect marine and coastal habitats and wildlife. It pulled together an unprecedented breadth and depth of ecological information into one resource to support Arctic marine planning.

With the Arctic warming three times as quickly as the rest of the planet, urgent action is needed to protect the region’s wildlife, which are increasingly under threat. To date, the Canadian government has protected 13.8 per cent of its marine areas, including Tuvaijuittuq Marine Protected Area and Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area in the Arctic. As it works toward protecting 30 per cent of Canadian waters by 2030, network planning can help achieve broader conservation objectives than can be done by establishing stand-alone Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). CanPAC shows that we must ensure we are protecting the most important areas for biodiversity, while also making sure that those areas are connected to one another.

CanPAC brought together data/information about more than 500 features of Arctic marine ecosystems (for example, key habitats, nesting areas, etc.) into one tool, with input from diverse partners. Over the last three years, WWF-Canada worked with experts specializing in Arctic species and ecosystems to demonstrate that network planning is possible in this region. The result is a series of proposed networks based on comprehensive, rigorous scientific analysis using the best-available data. The project is an important step toward holistic network planning for marine conservation.


Erin Keenan, Manager, Arctic Marine Conservation, WWF-Canada says:

CanPAC shows that network planning in the Arctic can, and must, be done. Wildlife in the region don’t stay put — they move around, whether on their own or carried by ocean currents, which means that a healthy Arctic is one where species are protected through their range. The government of Canada should work with Indigenous communities and stakeholders to begin MPA network planning in the Canadian Arctic, as this project has demonstrated is possible.”


Paul Okalik, Lead Specialist, Arctic, WWF-Canada says:

“CanPAC is the first step in marine planning for the eastern Arctic. A key next step to protecting the right areas in this region will be ongoing consultation with Indigenous communities on conservation priorities and local use areas.”


CanPAC in a global context

Establishing a network of conserved and protected areas across the entire Arctic Ocean is a shared responsibility. CanPAC complements a recently released project by WWF’s Global Arctic Programme, ArcNet (Arctic Ocean Network of Priority Areas for Conservation), which undertook a similar process for the entire Arctic. The proposed networks identified by CanPAC complement those identified by ArcNet in Canada, showing consistency in the process and ensuring that wildlife species that spend time in Canada are protected throughout their range.


For more information contact:

Tina Knezevic, communications specialist, WWF-Canada, [email protected]