To understand where we’re going and why we need a Blueprint for the Coast, we need to understand where we’ve been and where we are now.
Since time immemorial, Indigenous nations have been stewarding coastal and ocean areas in accordance with their Indigenous laws in what has now become known as British Columbia. While severely disrupted by colonization, Indigenous nations have continued to keep their laws, customs, and stewardship practices alive. It is time for British Columbia to partner with Indigenous nations to create a new coastal marine strategy for the province.
With coastal development accelerating, and pressure from a burgeoning environmental movement, states along the Pacific US coast adopt some of the first modern coastal marine strategies. These coastal plans bring together the federal government, Indigenous tribes, and local governments.
The federal Oceans Act comes into force and the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans & the Canadian Coast Guard is put in charge of developing a national oceans strategy in collaboration with provincial governments, Indigenous organizations and coastal communities.
A big win for sustainable ecosystem-based ocean management occurs when a co-initiative between Indigenous nations and the Provincial government completes its marine plans for the Great Bear Sea. The initiative, called the Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP) for the North Pacific Coast, would go on to win the inaugural BC Reconciliation Award in 2021.
British Columbia enacts legislation requiring the province to bring its law and practices into harmony with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This includes its marine management regime.
The BC government commits for the first time to developing a BC coastal marine strategy in partnership with Indigenous nations and other orders of government, to better protect coastal habitat while growing coastal economies. Minister of State for Lands and Natural Resource Operations Nathan Cullen is tasked with leading the development of the BC coastal marine strategy.
Intensifying climate change impacts, record low salmon runs, and increasing demands over resources continue to negatively impact BC coastal communities and ecosystems, making the need for BC coastal marine strategy even more urgent than ever.
Josie Osborne is appointed as the Minister for the new ministry that will co-manage lands and waters with Indigenous nations and ensure the effects of economic activity are in line with environmental objectives. The Ministry consolidates provincial ocean management programs and is responsible for the development of the BC Coastal Marine Strategy.
The Ministry will engage coastal Indigenous nations’ leadership on a process for developing a Coastal Marine Strategy and key priorities. Then in collaboration, they will draft an intentions paper. Following this step, we expect further engagement over this government’s mandate to develop a made in BC Coastal Strategy.
As we await the creation of the BC coastal marine strategy, BC remains one of the last coastal jurisdictions in North America without a united plan and law to protect its coast. Our goal is to create a blueprint, co-designed with Indigenous nations, that ensures marine life and coastal communities get the future they deserve.