Can you plan an ocean? | Marine planning and conservation | Oceans | Science & policy | Marine planning and conservation | Issues

PNCIMA_Web_final.jpgBC’s Bountiful Sea: Heritage Worth Preserving, a report by the David Suzuki Foundation, Living Oceans Society, Sierra Club BC, & CPAWS-BC

Thumbnail image for State_PNCIMA_FINAL_COPY.jpgState of the Ocean in Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area, a report by the David Suzuki Foundation, Living Oceans Society, Sierra Club BC & CPAWS-BC

Photo: Can you plan an ocean?

Industrialization affects the habitats of countless marine animals (Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson)

Increasing industrialization threatens ocean ecosystems and the species that depend on them — including humans. Canada's Pacific North Coast is one of the few ocean environments in the world that still offers an abundance and richness of marine species. This will not last if care is not taken to ensure its future health and well-being.

A thoughtful management and conservation plan is needed for the Pacific North Coast — one that ensures the health of our oceans and that secures opportunities to continue to realize the social and economic benefits that they provide. Just imagine what our coastal communities would be like without fishermen. Without tourists. Without the sights and sounds of marine wildlife.

That's why developing a good plan for the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA)is so important.

A network of marine protected areas and ecosystem-based management plans developed through a marine-use planning process in PNCIMA would protect critical habitat and help restore populations of seriously depleted species. This process should actively engage the people who live, work and play in the PNCIMA, and should use the best available science to inform decisions about the future use of this magnificent region.

We have the opportunity to ensure the continued productivity and health of this region by developing a comprehensive management and conservation plan that considers the interests of all the people, animals and plants that share our ocean resources.

Government policy and the current status of PNCIMA

In Canada's Oceans Act of 1997, the Oceans Strategy in 2002, and the Oceans Action Plan in 2005, the federal government committed to a new approach to managing oceans that incorporates a more holistic, precautionary, and integrated approach. However, the Government of Canada has yet to establish integrated management plans and marine protected areas. Here is a timeline.

  • In 2005, Canada's Oceans Action Plan (OAP) identified British Columbia's Central and North coasts as one of Canada's five priority areas for integrated management plans. It named the area the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA).
  • The federal, provincial and First Nations governments continue to develop a framework document that describes how management of the PNCIMA planning process will occur.
  • Funding for the Oceans Action Plan was initially made available for two years (2005 and 2006).
  • In the 2007 federal budget the government committed to a Health of the Oceans Initiative but, unfortunately, it allocated very little funding for marine-use planning.

This is unfortunate for a number of reasons, but mostly because B.C. desperately needs to change the way it manages oceans and ocean resources and must stop the steady decline of fish stocks and habitat destruction from fisheries mismanagement, pollution and other issues.

Despite the lack of funding, the Fisheries and Oceans Canada has continued its attempt to move forward with marine planning. However, progress on this issue is very slow and it suffers from a lack of political will from both federal and provincial governments.

In March 2009 Fisheries and Oceans and Coastal First Nations hosted a PNCIMA Forum that involved more than 300 stakeholders to discuss options for moving forward with a marine-planning process.

The planning process in PNCIMA and its proposed conservation and protection of important areas will continue to move slowly unless governments allocate a significant amount of money and capacity in next year's budgets to ensure that a comprehensive progress is established.

You can help by contacting government today.

More details about the state of the environment in the PNCIMA can be found at:

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/oceans/science/marine-planning-and-conservation/can-you-plan-an-ocean/