Collaboration for the Coast

People enjoying the beach at low tide, Parksville BC

Teamwork makes the dream work. This was certainly true during the recent Coastal Marine Strategy public consultation period. 

Cover of BC Government Coastal Marine Strategy Intentions Paper

The Coastal Marine Strategy is a comprehensive plan currently being developed by British Columbia and coastal Indigenous nations to address the health and stewardship of marine ecosystems and resilience of coastal communities. In December 2022, BC released the Policy Intentions Paper for the Strategy. The Paper includes many badly needed policy intentions, like restoring nearshore ecosystems, exploring stronger coastal laws, and better engaging British Columbians in marine management. 

We saw British Columbians’ enthusiasm for being involved in marine management on display during the  public consultation period on the Intentions Paper that was held between December and April. Hundreds of organizations, stakeholders, and concerned citizens from throughout the province provided feedback in forums, town halls and online, broadly supporting the policy intentions included in the Paper and providing suggestions on how these intentions can translate into a strong coastal marine strategy.

This feedback included a joint letter submitted by 19 environmental organizations supporting the Policy Intentions Paper and emphasizing that a strong Coastal Marine Strategy should be backed by a coastal law. The letter also notes that the Strategy must include measurable goals, an effective monitoring plan, and recognition of Indigenous rights. West Coast Environmental Law provided a submission detailing how a new coastal law could support the Coastal Marine Strategy and CPAWS-BC provided a submission outlining recommendations for an effective Coastal Marine Strategy that prioritize habitat protection, reconciliation, and Indigenous protected and conserved areas.

“Each of our organizations are heavily invested in the health and well-being of the coast. Although we have a common focus on coastal-marine conservation, each one of us has unique perspectives and a different set of expertise to bring to the table – this is why collaboration is key. We are grateful to work with this outstanding group of passionate individuals striving for change.” 

Alicia Elgert, Ocean Conservation Campaigner, CPAWS-BC 

Informed by British Columbians’ enthusiastic feedback, the Province and coastal Indigenous nations are now developing the actual Coastal Marine Strategy, which is anticipated to be released during early to mid 2024.

By Alicia Elgert, Ocean Conservation Campaigner, CPAWS-BC and Michael Bissonnette, Staff Lawyer, WCEL

Top image: Beachgoers in Parksville, BC (Photo by Cameron Wears/Flickr Creative Commons)