Paint the Coast by Numbers

Paint by numbers illustration featuring marine life.

What’s the difference between a Marine Protected Area and Marine Spatial Planning? How do they fit with the Coastal Marine Strategy being co-designed by First Nations and the BC government? Here are the answers in a Paint by Numbers Explainer.

For the future of our coast

Managing the ocean is complex. Overlapping jurisdictions govern marine activities, conservation initiatives and ocean-based industries. A Coastal Marine Strategy will look at the full picture of ocean ecosystem health and community well-being.

BC is developing a Coastal Marine Strategy with First Nations, who have stewarded the coast for millennia. Once the strategy is coloured in and complete, we’ll all see the ecological, cultural and economic benefits of a healthy coastal marine environment.

Marine Spatial Planning

Marine Spatial Planning is an open and transparent process used in ocean management – it’s like zoning for the ocean.

Each zone, shown above as numbered sections, accounts for different uses, needs and human activities while also maintaining ocean health. All levels of government, federal, provincial and Indigenous, may be involved in Marine Spatial Planning.

Marine Protected Areas

As part of Marine Spatial Planning, we’ll come across zones that need special consideration and contain biodiversity that needs extra protection – like an estuary. A conservation zone like this may get designated as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) – which is like a park in the water.

Coastal Marine Strategy

A strong Coastal Marine Strategy will support Marine Spatial Planning, Marine Protected Areas and the health of coastal ecosystems. A healthy, clean coast will support community well-being and a viable ocean economy.

That’s why we need a Coastal Marine Strategy – to paint the fullest and most vibrant future for the BC coast.

Policy Intentions Paper

The BC Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship is working with coastal Indigenous nations to develop the Coastal Marine Strategy, which they intend to release in 2024.

In December 2022, the Ministry released a Policy Intentions Paper for the Coastal Marine Strategy, co-written with representatives from coastal Indigenous nations, that is meant to guide the development of the Strategy. The paper lists key policy intentions of the Coastal Marine Strategy, which include developing marine use plans and completing and implementing the Great Bear Sea MPA network.

By Kate MacMillan, CPAWS-BC Ocean Conservation Manager and Michael Bissonnette, WCEL Marine Program Staff Lawyer