Key Takeaways on Public Feedback

The Government of BC released a “What We Heard Report” to summarize nearly 1,000 public feedback submissions on the Coastal Marine Strategy Policy Intentions Paper. The feedback gathered for this report was collected during the public consultation period extending from December 15, 2022 – April 14, 2023.

Keep reading to hear our five takeaways…

Ecosystem health is a top priority

  • A total of 811 individuals participated in ranking strategy outcomes from most to least important. The most prioritized outcome was A Healthy and Productive Coast, with serious concerns surrounding the recovery of Pacific wild salmon populations and taking action to reduce marine pollution. 

Everyone has monitoring on their mind

  • Environmental monitoring and establishing clear metrics was the most frequently mentioned theme within the report. To improve our coastal marine ecosystems and how we interact with them, we must establish baselines and metrics for success to achieve the desired outcomes. British Columbians expressed the need for increased, consistent monitoring and data collection. There is also a desire for increased availability of open-access data and integration of data systems to share pre-existing research. It’s vital that coastal decision-making be guided by this sound, evidence-based information. 

Many are calling for legislation

  • Respondents indicated that enacting legislation to accompany the Coastal Marine Strategy was an important priority. Legislation is the glue that will hold this strategy together and ensure this plan won’t be set aside. It could also set legally binding protection standards and hold governments accountable for their actions throughout the initial twenty-year implementation period and beyond.

Indigenous leadership and empowerment is essential

  • A majority of respondents supported Indigenous empowerment. Many highlighted the importance of upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), calling for continued Indigenous co-development and future co-management of the Coastal Marine Strategy. An additional theme included incorporating Indigenous knowledge into decision-making, such that the Coastal Marine Strategy will be guided by elements of Indigenous principles, values, and worldviews. 

British Columbians overwhelmingly support the Coastal Marine Strategy

  • 88% of survey respondents felt the province was on the right track with Coastal Marine Strategy development. Of particular note, the majority of respondents who depend on the ocean for their livelihood or who practice Indigenous and/or treaty rights stated strategy development is on the right path. With this feedback in hand, the Government of BC will begin drafting the Coastal Marine Strategy with Indigenous nations for release in 2024.

An effective Coastal Marine Strategy and law has the potential to transform coastal marine management across BC radically. This report provides some much-needed hope surrounding attitudes towards enacting legislation, incorporating Indigenous perspectives, and working collaboratively to preserve coastal marine ecosystems.

Now, all eyes are on the Government of BC to fulfill their commitments during the next step. The well-being of the coast and coastal communities, now and in the future, depends on it.

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

Top image: Sunset over Calvert Island, BC (Photo by Markus Thompson)