Canada’s New Arctic Marine Protected Areas Are Only The Beginning. Declare MAPS Now.

Yesterday Prime Minister Trudeau announced a new Tuvaijuittuq Arctic marine protected area as well as the completion of the Tallurutiup Imanga (Lancaster Sound) National Marine Conservation Area. But he forgot to thank the all-volunteer nonprofit Parvati.org, without whose efforts the Tallurutiup Imanga protected area may never have come to fruition. Fortunately, both of these tiny marine preserves are only the beginning. Prime Minister Trudeau can reserve his thanks for when MAPS, the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary, the world’s largest marine preserve, is established to protect all life.

In the fall of 2015, Parvati.org, founded and led by the award-winning Canadian musician and author Parvati, conducted extensive research questioning the validity of decades-old permits held by Shell Canada that had long been delaying the creation of the national marine park. Parvati.org shared its findings widely with Canadian NGOs, including WWF-Canada and Greenpeace, who leveraged the information as part of their ongoing work to protect the Arctic, culminating in Shell’s decision to relinquish the permits the following year. This paved the way for the Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area. But much more protection is needed in order to keep our world safe and healthy for generations to come.

The entirely volunteer-run Parvati.org is working towards establishing the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary (MAPS) for the good of all. MAPS designates the entire Arctic ocean north of the Arctic Circle as the world’s largest preservation area. To realize MAPS, Parvati.org created the international MAPS Treaty, translated it into the six official UN languages, and distributed it to the heads of government of 193 member nations of the UN for their formal endorsement, including Prime Minister Trudeau.

While Prime Minister Trudeau congratulates himself for exceeding the goal of 10% ocean protection by 2020, he neglects how inadequate this tiny commitment is, which leaves over 84% of Canada’s ocean space available to be exploited. Leading biologists say we must immediately protect half of our oceans and lands in order to prevent mass extinction. Even MAPS amounts to only 3% of the world’s oceans. As the steward of the longest coastline in the world, Canada has a responsibility not just to lead by example, but to consider the global impact of its choices. The world’s oceans are interconnected, and what is happening in the Arctic Ocean in particular is endangering all life around the globe.

The Arctic Ocean ice is our planet’s air conditioning system. It balances weather patterns globally so we have the food and resources we all need to survive. As the ice melts at a staggering rate, businesses and governments are moving to take advantage of the Arctic Ocean’s resources for short-term gain for a few, instead of protecting this vulnerable, climate-regulating region necessary for the survival of all. According to leading scientists and luminaries, this is an under reported ecological and humanitarian crisis and a deadly error, putting all lives at risk.

The power to change the course of history is literally in the Prime Minister’s hands. Prime Minister Trudeau only needs to sign the MAPS Treaty, which has been sitting on his desk for over three years. In so doing, he becomes part of declaring MAPS to stop all exploitation and to enhance peace and cooperation in the sensitive Arctic Ocean for the benefit of all. Trudeau will join the growing group of world leaders who have already signed the MAPS Treaty, namely, the Pacific Island Nations, Samoa and Cook Islands, who understand that they need a healthy Arctic Ocean to survive. Hon. Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, says “This is why the Cook Islands are going to sign up to and support the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary Treaty. The time for bold action is now.” MAPS is the marine protection our world requires.

“We are rapidly heading towards unimaginable danger with a vulnerable Arctic Ocean,” says Parvati. “There is no time for anything but the most courageous actions for a healthy world: MAPS now. If Prime Minister Trudeau is truly committed to supporting a healthy Arctic Ocean, his next step will be to immediately sign the MAPS Treaty. With the rapid loss of sea ice, there is precious little time to lose.”

Everyone can make a difference for MAPS by signing and sharing the MAPS petition at Parvati.org and calling on their leaders, including Prime Minister Trudeau, to sign the MAPS Treaty immediately.