Our Top Three Moments of 2023

Salmon have spawned in their natal streams and the winter duck migration is upon us (keep your eyes peeled for Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, and Harlequins) – perennial signs that another year is coming to an end. 

This year has brought us significantly closer towards implementing BC’s first Coastal Marine Strategy – none of which would be possible without your support. We are truly thankful to all who have taken the time to stand up for the coast in 2023. You wrote letters of concern to politicians and government staff, participated in public consultations, demanded funding for coastal protection, shared our e-newsletters, and filled up seats at our Turning the Tide discussions. Your actions made an impact and were essential in forming our top three moments of 2023:

Overwhelming public support for the Coastal Marine Strategy

Our year started with provincial public consultations to inform the drafting of the Coastal Marine Strategy. The Government of BC received nearly 1,000 public feedback submissions from concerned British Columbians in strong support of the strategy. The respondents asked the government to prioritize productive and healthy ecosystems and resilience to climate change, with many calling for the recovery of wild Pacific salmon and elimination of marine pollution.

The Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship becomes the official home for coastal marine issues

A major goal of the Blueprint for the Coast campaign has been for the Government of BC to establish a home for coastal marine issues within itself. In 2022, the Government of BC created the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship (WLRS) to manage the lands and waters of BC with Indigenous nations – the same ministry responsible for developing the Coastal Marine Strategy. Despite this change, some of the most important statutory powers to protect and manage coastal marine areas were not given to WLRS at the time. Ironically, the Ministry of Forests remained responsible under the Land Act for managing most tenures on the seabed and coast. On October 19th, 2023 the province officially transferred the authority to administer a number of environmental and marine statues to WLRS. This transfer includes the authority to manage tenures under the Land Act, as well as licensing the growth and harvesting of wild aquatic plants under the Fish and Seafood Act. Now that these legal powers have been consolidated within WLRS, we can confidently call it the new home for coastal marine issues in BC…not only in name, but function.

We launched our Turning the Tide discussion series

This fall, we had the pleasure of hosting two discussions: Turning the Tide on BC’s Marine Pollution Crisis and Turning the Tide on BC’s Coastal Habitat Loss. These conversations featured expert panelists who shared insights on two of the most concerning topics facing the coast and how the forthcoming Coastal Marine Strategy may be able to help address these issues. Stay tuned for another talk coming in 2024.

As we take time to rest and reflect, we’re hopeful for the direction of coastal conservation across BC. We look forward to the long-awaited release of the Coastal Marine Strategy; and with that, will be the start of a long-term and more efficient way of working together along the coast. We hope you will continue to follow us on this journey to ensure coastal ecosystems and communities receive the prosperous future they deserve.

Written by Alicia Elgert, Ocean Conservation Campaigner, CPAWS-BC

Image: Common goldeneye on the run, Daniel Cadieux