We live in a time of uncertainty. Complex challenges such as climate change and the global economic crisis have many Canadians concerned about the future.
Right here in British Columbia, the coastal ecosystems that sustain us are under increasing pressures. But there's good reason for hope. Many coastal First Nations are working together with the province to develop a long-term plan for how we use, manage and protect Canada's North Pacific Coast.
WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?
Increasing ocean activity and decreasing ocean health
The expanding footprint of shipping, aquaculture, fishing, tourism and other industries in Canada's Pacific Ocean is matched with increasing signs of stress: declining fish stocks, increasing pollution, algal blooms and the effects of global climate change, including ocean acidification.
Poor, uncoordinated management
Canada is mismanaging its oceans, using a sector-by-sector approach that fails to recognize the interconnectedness of ocean ecosystems and protect the economies that depend on them. Piecemeal management of ocean activities can lead to unintended impacts and conflicts. It's time for a comprehensive plan that looks at the cumulative impacts of all of these activities to make sure BC's coastal waters are protected.
WHAT'S AT RISK?
The marine ecosystems off the coast of B.C. are some of the richest and most diverse in the world. These bountiful seas support hundreds of coastal communities, First Nations cultures steeped in ocean traditions, and an estimated $10 billion of ocean-based industry. As the health of the ocean is threatened, so are people, and their communities and businesses.
Ocean-based industries directly employ 10 per cent of people living in North Coast communities and another 20 per cent of British Columbians indirectly.
WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?
Comprehensive marine plans
The government of British Columbia and over 20 coastal First Nations are working in partnership to develop a plan to manage human activities in the ocean in a comprehensive way. Launched in 2011, this Marine Planning Partnership allows both levels of government (First Nations and provincial) to work together with industry groups and local communities on developing these plans.
Plans for four ocean regions are being developed — Haida Gwaii, North Coast, Central Coast and Northern Vancouver Island
What about the federal government?
MaPP covers the same area identified by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) as a priority for integrated management, the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area. Since DFO withdrew from a funding agreement for this critical area in September 2011, the focus of this process has narrowed to address only broad goals, leaving out important "on-the-water" measures to protect ecosystems and reconcile competing ocean uses. MaPP fills this critical gap.