Marine Planning Partnership heralds new wave of ocean management in British Columbia

VICTORIA, BC, April 27, 2015 /CNW/ - Today the BC Government and 18 coastal First Nations came together to sign world-leading Marine Use Plans for the Pacific North Coast region of BC. This region includes Haida Gwaii, North Vancouver Island, the Central Coast, and the North Coast.

"The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) sees the endorsement of the plans as heralding a new wave in ocean management and marine conservation in Canada, starting right here in British Columbia," said Sabine Jessen, National Oceans Program Director at CPAWS.

Jessen represented the conservation sector on the stakeholder advisory committee for Haida Gwaii. "The north and central BC coast is an amazing place, which all British Columbians hold as a treasure" said Jessen "The region needs a plan to ensure that these special places are properly managed and protected for current and future generations."

The plans represent extraordinary leadership and collaborative effort by the BC government and First Nations, together with over two years of consultation with stakeholders throughout the region. The planning process involved the most comprehensive assembly of data from multiple sectors ever undertaken for the region, as well as the best available science from experts familiar with the region. Stakeholders involved in the process represented a wide variety of interests, including conservation, fishing, tourism, aquaculture and forestry.

"A recent survey by SFU of British Columbians confirms support for the kind of planning process that led to these plans – a process based on a foundation of strong science and consensus among stakeholders," noted Jessen. "The plans also echo the key concerns of British Columbians for placing a priority on ecosystem protection and food security."

Jessen noted that, "Better protection of ocean ecosystems is a big and urgent challenge for everyone. It's great to see the public and private sectors come together to accelerate the solutions we all need." The planning process was supported by a public/private partnership between the province and First Nations, with Tides Canada as the administrative home and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation providing transparent funding that the government directed.

"The focus of the plans is to manage human activities within nature's limits, to ensure the health of our oceans and coastal communities," said Jessen. "Although we would like to see more and stronger conservation measures in the plans, they represent a very important first step in protecting and managing our ocean resources for generations to come."

But along with her colleagues in the conservation sector, Jessen highlights that while the finalization of the plans is a great start, it just the beginning of a long process.

"We are now looking to the BC government and First Nations to fully implement the plans, which will take resources, time and political will" says Jessen. "Hopefully the Federal government will seize the opportunity to build on this work by the Province and First Nations and come to the table, to ensure that the region benefits from comprehensive and cooperative ocean management and protection."

SOURCE Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, British Columbia Chapter

For further information: Sabine Jessen, National Oceans Program Director, CPAWS, Cell: 604.657.2813 Email: sabine@cpawsbc.org

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www.cpawsbc.org

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