Marine Use Planning and Protected Areas
We ask a lot of the ocean. We harvest it for fish, shellfish, plants, minerals and energy. We sail on it in everything from cruise ships to tankers, and we dump urban and industrial runoff into it. The value of these natural goods and services totals billions of dollars annually, and contributes to the economies of the province and coastal communities.
Collapsing fisheries and other signs of ecological decline warn us that we are pushing the limits of what the ocean is able to absorb. Marine use planning is about being strategic as to what we take from the ocean and what we put into it. By adjusting our practices to take into account the fragility of marine resources, we preserve irreplaceable natural capital while living comfortably off the interest.
Marine Protected Areas and Global Warming
The designation of a network of Marine Protected Areas will improve ocean health and the productivity of fisheries, but has an equally significant role to play in moderating global warming. While biodiversity representation is the key strategy in maintaining ecosystem resilience in the face of oncoming climate effects, Sierra Club BC wants to supplement this principle by giving the ecosystems that provide carbon sequestration processes - so-called Blue Carbon - priority protection status.
Read Sierra Club BC's submission to the federal review of Canada's plan for a network of Marine Protected Areas.
The Oceans Act
The Oceans Act requires the federal government to engage British Columbia in a comprehensive, integrated management planning process in an area called the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA - pronounced pin-SEE-mah). This area includes B.C.’s Central and North Coast and Haida Gwaii marine regions. It covers approximately two-thirds of B.C.’s coast.
Marine Planning in B.C.
After initiating a three government decision-making and stakeholder advisory process for PNCIMA in 2008, the federal government withdrew in 2011 with the declared intention of developing a more streamlined plan with three strategic outcomes: sustainable ecosystems, economically prosperous fisheries, and safe and secure waters. The Province will continue to work with the federal government’s PNCIMA initiative, while First Nations are considering the implications of continued cooperation when their Memorandum of Understanding with Canada has been broken. Meanwhile, First Nations and the Province have signed a letter of intent to pursue a Marine Planning Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP) which will result in four sub-regional plans for implementation in BC’s ocean.
At both levels a marine-use planning process must actively engage the people who live, work and play on the North Coast and should bring the best available science to the table to inform decisions.