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‘Great Bear Sea’ marine plan going public

January 27, 2014

As the population of the coast increases, humans are putting a greater strain on the ocean. Less than three percent of Canada’s Pacific waters have some form of protection from over-use or unrestrained development. Without a plan that restrains unwise industrial uses of our coastal waters we risk losing the benefits the ocean provides free of charge. Some of those things are difficult to put a price tag on: oxygen, carbon fixing and weather stability. Other benefits are easier to calculate, such as recreational opportunities, food webs and other resources that provide livelihoods for many people on the coast.

Living Oceans has represented the conservation sector at advisory tables for the Marine Planning Partnership (MaPP), comprised of the Province of British Columbia and 18 First Nations who are planning for the long-term health of the North and Central Coast. Some people call this region the ‘Great Bear Sea’ because its waters wash upon the shores of the Great Bear Rainforest.

The MaPP region is made up of Haida Gwaii, the North and Central Coast, and northern Vancouver Island.

There have been plenty of MaPP advisory meetings at which local governments, recreational and commercial fishermen, forestry, aquaculture, tour operators and others have had their say.

“We all see the world differently and there were a lot of opposing opinions at the beginning of the planning sessions,” said Gord Curry, Living Oceans Local Marine Planner. “But over time we all came to see that each sector relied on a healthy ocean. That cleared the way to exploring which solutions best meet everyone’s long term interests.”

Gord Curry, Local Marine Planner

At the MaPP planning sessions we championed ecosystem-based management  and ocean zoning as a way to select places that should be protected, along with how and where responsible industrial activity and future development could take place.

Starting in March and through the spring, people in Haida Gwaii, the North and Central Coast, and northern Vancouver Island will get a chance to provide input and feedback on the MaPP plan for the Great Bear Sea. The people who work and live here hold the most knowledge of what is special. They are the ones who can offer the most practical insights into how we can use the ocean without using it up. Their input is critical to a successful ocean plan. 

Will your favourite ocean places be protected from development? Find out more about the Great Bear Sea planning process and how you can take part.