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Gitdisdzu Lugyeks (Kitasu Bay) MPA Named a Blue Spark in Growing Network of Highest Quality Marine Protected Areas

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[Vancouver, Canada, 5 Feb 2023] Today, at the 5th International Marine Protected Area Congress (IMPAC5), Marine Conservation Institute announced that Gitdisdzu Lugyeks (Kitasu Bay) MPA is now a Blue Spark marine protected area collaboration. The Blue Spark designation for this Indigenous-led protected area reflects the leadership and commitment of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation and indicates that the protected area is making progress towards earning a prestigious Blue Park Award for conservation excellence. 

In June 2022, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation designated Gitdisdzu Lugyeks (Kitasu Bay) MPA within their traditional territory near Laredo Sound along the central coast of British Columbia – the same Canadian province hosting IMPAC5. The 33.5km2 MPA will protect and conserve the ecological and cultural value of the bay, whose waters are a spiritual place integral to the Nation’s economy, health, and culture. Encompassing a variety of shallow, nutrient-rich marine ecosystems, the MPA’s eel grass meadows and kelp forests serve as one of the most important herring spawning grounds on the British Columbian coast, as well as a nursery for a myriad of other juvenile fish. 

“By establishing Kitasu Bay as a Marine Protected Area, the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation is taking an important and long-overdue step toward advancing Indigenous-led conservation and the responsible management of natural and cultural resources in our traditional territories,” said Kitasoo/Xai’xais elected Chief, Doug Neasloss. 

The draft Gitdisdzu Lugyeks management plan combines local knowledge and management practices with the latest marine science. The MPA will be managed by the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Stewardship Authority according to the guiding principles of the Nation: loomsk (respect), sagayt k’uulm goot (interconnectedness), sityaaw (reciprocity), and gugwilx’ya’ansk (intergenerational knowledge). Gitdisdzu Lugyeks is an important step toward implementation of the Northern Shelf Bioregion MPA Network, which is being planned and managed by 13 First Nations and federal and provincial governments in Canada. 

Marine Conservation Institute collaborates with Blue Spark partners to plan and improve their management and implement MPAs, using the Blue Park Award criteria as the blueprint for a better protected ocean. A Blue Park Award indicates that a marine protected area meets the highest science-based standards for marine biodiversity conservation. 

Dr. Lance Morgan, President of Marine Conservation Institute, said, “We are excited to see Gitdisdzu Lugyeks MPA become our newest Blue Spark collaboration accelerating the protection of the most important places in our oceans. Gitdisdzu Lugyeks and the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation are leaders in Indigenous-led conservation, and their hard work is safeguarding a vital marine ecosystem.” 

Marine Conservation Institute’s announcement of Gitdisdzu Lugyeks MPA as a Blue Spark brings the total number of protected areas in the Blue Parks network to 37 – 27 Blue Parks and 10 Blue Sparks. Gitdisdzu Lugyeks MPA and the other Blue Sparks— California Seamounts (USA), Cocos-Galapagos Swimway (Costa Rica & Ecuador), Coiba National Park (Panama), Piedra del Viento Sanctuary (Chile), Cabo Pulmo National Park (Mexico), Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (USA), Inhambane Bay Community Conservation Network (Mozambique), Namancurá-Burdwood Bank II & Yaganes (Argentina), and Reserva Marina Hermandad (Ecuador)—represent tomorrow’s Blue Parks. 

Dr. Sarah Hameed, Senior Scientist and Director of the Blue Parks Program said, “I look forward to working with Gitdisdzu Lugyeks MPA. Individually, Blue Parks and Blue Sparks protect a diversity of wildlife and ecosystems, and together they will help safeguard life in the sea.” 



About Blue Parks 

Blue Park Awards were established by Marine Conservation Institute to encourage high quality marine protected areas (MPAs) that safeguard marine wildlife, secure critical habitats, promote resilience, and ensure the inspiring beauty of our oceans for future generations. The effort aims to assemble an effective network that sustains marine life and ecosystems globally. As of today, there are 27 marine protected areas that have earned Blue Park Awards. 

In addition to awarding new Blue Parks, Marine Conservation Institute has launched collaborations — Blue Sparks — with groups planning new marine protected areas and upgrading existing marine protected areas in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Mozambique to ensure their efforts result in future Blue Parks. 

About Marine Conservation Institute 

Marine Conservation Institute, founded in 1996, works in the U.S. and globally to seek strong protection for at least 30% of the ocean by 2030—for us and future generations. Our focus on protecting the ocean’s most important places follows several lines of work: identifying and advocating for strong marine protected areas; improving laws and other tools to better conserve marine biodiversity; catalyzing effective conservation by recognizing and elevating the best marine protected areas as Blue Parks; and accurately reporting on global conservation efforts with our Marine Protection Atlas ( 

About Blue Endowment Fund 

Blue is a non-profit endowment fund aiming at building a better future through project grants, equity investments and initiative incubation. Blue provides financial grants for effective, efficient and sustainable projects to strengthen resilient marine ecosystems, and sponsors the Blue Park Awards. 


Dr. Sarah Hameed, Blue Parks Director & Senior Scientist 

Marine Conservation Institute, USA 

+1 707 242 1997 cell 

Dr. Lance Morgan, President 

Marine Conservation Institute, USA 

+1 707 217 8242 cell 

Evan Loveless 

Evan Loveless and Associates 

+1 250 702 6565