Photo: Keeping oceans wild means leaving Wild West approach behind

(Credit: Living Oceans Society)

By Panos Grames, Senior Communications Specialist

Glass sponge reefs, gigantic container ships, climate change, humpback whales, rights and title claims, commercial fishing, kayakers, tiny islands with millions of nesting seabirds, recreational fishing lodges, marine mammal breeding grounds, renewable energy sites—these are just a few of the many elements competing for space in Canada's Pacific coastal waters.

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The good news is that the Government of Canada announced today that it will work with the Province of B.C. and coastal First Nations to take better care of these precious coastal ecosystems and the communities that depend upon them.

Until now, the federal government has not focused on overall impacts of human activities in coastal waters. Fortunately, when it walked away from the marine planning table in 2012, 18 coastal First Nations and B.C.'s government stepped into the vacuum to create plans on their own.

It's a good thing they did.

Imagine a city where things were built willy-nilly: sewage treatment plants next to hospitals, schools beside shoulderless highways and residential areas without parks or greenspaces.

That pretty much describes what's happened with our coastal waters. Although a wild western ocean is good, a Wild West approach to ocean planning is not!
Good planning may not get headlines, but ensuring that shipping lanes do not endanger feed-and-breed marine wildlife areas and that tourism operators and industrial zones don't get in each other's way is crucial for nurturing healthy coastal ecosystems.

Kudos to the federal government for recognizing that bringing people together might be a lot of work, but our amazing and intricate coastal waters and the communities that live alongside them are well worth the effort.

It's a day to celebrate for oceans.

February 15, 2017