Haida Gwaii Integrated Advisory Committee Established

Haida Gwaii Integrated Advisory Committee

Members of the Haida Gwaii Integrated Advisory Committee, L-R: Scott Wallace, Tanya Wahbe, Leandre Vigneault, Doug Daugert, John McCulloch, Grant Dovey, Mike McGuire, Jim McIsaac and Captain Gold. Missing from the photo: Lindsey Doerkson, Sabine Jessen, Rosaline Canessa. Photo: Terri J. Bell, CHN Marine Planning

The Haida Gwaii Integrated Advisory Committee (IAC) met for the first time this June in Skidegate. The IAC was established by the Haida Gwaii Marine Steering Committee* to advise and inform planning and the implementation of plans on Haida Gwaii, with a focus on marine planning. The establishment of this committee is consistent with the approach being taken by MaPP across all sub-regions and region respecting stakeholder participation in marine plan implementation.

The primary responsibilities of the IAC include providing advice on Marine Protected Area Network planning for the Northern Shelf Bioregion** and implementation of the Haida Gwaii Marine Plan. The committee is also responsible for providing advice on implementing the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) plan as it relates to Haida Gwaii.

The IAC has 13 members with a range of backgrounds and expertise, including: conservation, marine transportation, commercial fishing, recreational fishing, marine tourism, marine sciences, and Haida marine knowledge. The committee will meet approximately twice a year.

* The Haida Gwaii Marine Steering Committee includes representatives of: CHN; Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; and Parks Canada (Gwaii Haanas). The Steering Committee provides strategic direction on marine planning and management initiatives on Haida Gwaii and ensures efforts are co-ordinated among various processes.

** The Northern Shelf Bioregion extends from the middle of Vancouver Island and reaches north to the Canada – Alaska border.

MaPP representatives present at the International Marine Protected Areas Congress 2017 in Chile

(L-R): Meaghan Calcari Campbell, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Allan Lidstone, Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; Christie Chute, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada; Gord McGee, Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance; and Danielle Shaw, Wuikinuxv Nation. Photo by IISD/ENB | Angeles Estrada

Allan Lidstone, Gord McGee and Danielle Shaw represented the Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP) at the International Marine Protected Areas Congress 2017 (IMPAC4) in La Serena-Coquimbo, Chile, held Sept. 4-8 and organized by the Government of Chile and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas.

The congress allowed international participants to discuss how the management of marine protected areas (MPAs) contributes to progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goal on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources.

The MaPP representatives, along with Christie Chute of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, took part in a panel discussion chaired by Meaghan Calcari-Campbell of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, titled Indigenous, Provincial, and Federal Governments Integrating Marine Spatial Plans and Marine Protected Areas in Canada. In a wide-ranging discussion, they addressed the benefits of the First Nations-B.C. partnership, the development of the marine plans, the features of the protection management zone designation, stakeholder engagement, integration of traditional knowledge and science, and what comes next as the MaPP partners implement the marine spatial plans, while at the same time working with the federal government to advance a MPA network on the B.C. coast. The audience posed questions about the role of Coastal Guardian Watchmen, how monitoring, compliance and enforcement activities were integrated with the three levels of government, and how Indigenous title and rights influence the planning process and align with legislative or policy tools used to create marine protection by the federal and provincial governments.

Gord McGee, Marine Planner with the Central Coast Indigenous Resources Alliance (CCIRA) and member of the MaPP Central Coast Technical Team, also gave a separate presentation, Marine Planning Partnership in the North Pacific: Meeting 2020 Targets in Canada. He focused on three elements of successful marine plan development: collaboration between the Nations, the provincial government and local governments; the integration of traditional knowledge with scientific and stakeholder local knowledge; and the ability to create solutions for difficult issues as a result of the collaborative and integrative nature of the process. The audience asked questions about the MaPP governance structure and decision-making process, the cost, the advisory stakeholder process and how to engage stakeholders meaningfully, and how the Nations assert authority over three jurisdictions in Canada (federal, provincial and municipal) during planning and how they continue to assert their title and rights.

Allan Lidstone, MaPP Marine Working Group member and Director of the Resource Management Objectives Branch within the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and Danielle Shaw, Stewardship Director with the Wuikinuxv First Nation, presented Marine Spatial Planning, MPAs and Collaborative Management in the North Pacific Coast of BC as part of a panel discussion, Meeting the 2020 Targets in Canada: challenges, successes, opportunities and lessons learnt in developing a national network of MPAs over the past 25 years.

Commenting on his experience at the congress, Lidstone said, “I was surprised by the extent of work in progress and completed to put MPAs in place around the globe. The diversity and number of partnerships to support this work was also noteworthy including the important role of private foundations in promoting and funding this work. Other highlights included the rapid advances in technology to support monitoring, compliance and enforcement and distribution of information. Many presenters recognized the critical need of community participation and support to ensure viable MPAs. I noted that many of the commonly identified key factors for success in planning MPAs were consistent with the planning approach we took in MaPP.”

He added, “It was exciting to share our experiences and learning from MaPP. Although there is a lot happening around the globe, I felt our work here in coastal British Columbia elicited a lot of interest both in our presentations and in one-on-one conversations with other participants. This interest reflects that MaPP is at the forefront of marine planning and has established many innovative and effective approaches for sustainable coastal and ocean management.”

McGee commented, “It’s amazing how much work is being done at all scales around the globe. MPAs are really important structures being used effectively far out in the middle of great oceans all the way down to the level of small mangroves or coves.” He felt it was important that the work of MaPP was shared at the conference because it is a strong example of collaborative planning with First Nations and the use of traditional ecological knowledge to drive planning processes along with science. In fact, there was an entire day devoted to Indigenous engagement and the planning process.

One presentation that stood out for McGee was a lecture by a native Hawaiian planner. McGee said, “The planner described how they had designed their planning process to merge with their Indigenous world view, and he sang a song that spoke about each of the different parts of their ocean, the birds, the marine mammals, shellfish and how important each is to their way of life. He went on to describe how they were collaboratively building their marine planning process itself in a radically different way from a traditional western scientific approach. People were really touched by his presentation. It was obvious that the connection to their environment was so important to them on different levels.”

McGee feels same way about his work at home. “In MaPP, there are people, communities, and Nations who are so deeply rooted to this coast for thousands of years, and as a result we are working towards creating meaningful ways of stewarding together, among governments, across cultures in ways that, after being at IMPAC4, I think are globally significant.”


For further information, visit the IMPAC4 website  and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) summary of meeting.


Lessons learned from MaPP discussed at an international marine spatial planning conference in Paris

Steve Diggon (on screen) discusses lessons learned during the MaPP process at the 2nd International Conference on Marine Maritime Spatial Planning. Photo credit: Steve Diggon.

Steve Diggon (on screen) discusses lessons learned during the MaPP process at the 2nd International Conference on Marine Maritime Spatial Planning. Photo credit: Steve Diggon.

Steve Diggon, regional marine planning coordinator for Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative, was a panel speaker at the 2nd International Conference on Marine Maritime Spatial Planning in Paris, France from March 15-17, 2017. Steve joined other experts from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America to share their practical experience of marine spatial planning.

Steve said, “The audience had heard about MaPP and was very interested in learning more about the process. This was an important opportunity to take the MaPP initiative and achievements to the international community and create understanding. My presentation focused on the successful integration of bottom-up and top-down planning during the development of the MaPP marine plans. I described how the key to our success was the collaboration between First Nations and the provincial government as well as robust engagement of stakeholders and local governments in developing comprehensive marine plans that included spatial and aspatial components. I emphasized the value of working together and the importance of developing good relationships that continue into the plan implementation phase.”

The conference was also a valuable learning opportunity for Steve. “It was especially interesting to hear about the complexity of marine spatial planning processes in the Baltic States with the number of international borders and security issues. The MaPP process did not have to deal with those considerations,” he said.

Steve added, “Overall, by attending the meeting, hearing all the presentations and talking with experts and practitioners from around the world, I got a lot of validation that the MaPP process is solid and on-track.”

The main objective of the conference, which was hosted by UNESCO and the European Commission, was to review the status of marine spatial planning – one decade after the first International MSP Conference – and to identify a path forward that addressed multiple global challenges from 2017 onwards.

The outcome of the Conference is the Joint Roadmap to accelerate Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning processes worldwide. The roadmap was presented to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Goals 14 held in New York from June 5-9, 2017.

MaPP selects indicators to track changes in the health of B.C.’s North Pacific Coast

Eelgrass is a good measure of coastal health because it is both ecologically important and sensitive to its environment, said Karin Bodtker, a manager at the Coastal Ocean Research Initiative. Eelgrass grows in estuaries throughout the MaPP region. In this photo, two locals harvest seafood from an eelgrass meadow in Haida Gwaii. Photo credit: Nusii Guijaaw.

Eelgrass is a good measure of coastal health because it is both ecologically important and sensitive to its environment, said Karin Bodtker, a manager at the Coastal Ocean Research Initiative. Eelgrass grows in estuaries throughout the MaPP region. In this photo, two locals harvest seafood from an eelgrass meadow in Haida Gwaii. Photo credit: Nusii Guijaaw.

The Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP) has picked 14 pilot regional indicators that, taken together over the long-term, will provide insights into the health of B.C.’s North Pacific Coast and help guide implementation of coastal management recommendations in MaPP sub-regional plans.

Hundreds of potential ecological, economic and human well-being indicators were initially identified by experts at Uuma Consulting and planning team members of the four MaPP sub-regions: Haida Gwaii, the North Coast, the Central Coast and North Vancouver Island.

To select the pilot indicators, MaPP partners and the Coastal Oceans Research Institute (CORI) took feedback from sub-regional workshops and focused on indicators considered high-priority within each sub-region and which made sense to track at a regional scale. As indicators can be expensive and time-consuming to monitor, the team chose indicators that would each provide unique insights without incurring excessive costs.

“It was challenging to narrow the list down,” said MaPP regional projects coordinator, Romney McPhie. “There are many things that are valuable to track, but collectively we came up with a short list that all sub-regions agreed upon to start the monitoring process.”

Eelgrass, the ribbon-like seagrass in estuaries throughout the region, was one of the indicators selected. MaPP personnel will track data on eelgrass distribution and biomass regularly during the 20-year implementation period of the MaPP plans.

“Eelgrass is one of the most ecologically important habitats. It’s also quite sensitive to pollution, sedimentation, sea level rise and even boats anchoring in it,” said Karin Bodtker a manager with CORI, the independent research institute based at the Vancouver Aquarium, that helped refine the list of indicators with MaPP.

“This plant provides habitat for about 80 per cent of marine species of commercial interest,” Bodtker explained. “Juvenile salmon, for example, use eelgrass habitat to find food, hide from predators and as a highway in their migration out to the ocean.” Eelgrass also captures and stores carbon.

Understanding eelgrass losses or gains, alongside changes to other indicators like ocean acidity, will help MaPP understand the state of the marine environment and how it is changing over time. “The information collected will support sustainable decision-making along the coast,” said McPhie.

Indicators are to be monitored from the middle of Vancouver Island through to the Alaskan border. They fall under seven themes: marine species and habitats; climate change and oceanography; water cleanliness; sense of place and wellbeing; seafood; coastal development and livelihoods; and stewardship and governance. These indicators reflect the MaPP commitment to ecosystem-based management, which prioritizes ecological integrity, human wellbeing and collaborative governance. In keeping with an adaptive approach, certain indicators may be changed if compelling reasons to do so arise, McPhie said.

In addition to the pilot regional indicators, sub-regions will have their own unique indicators for which they gather data. The Central Coast, for example, is monitoring crab and Haida Gwaii is monitoring the spread of invasive species, such as tunicates.

With regional indicators chosen, data collection is now underway. An analyst at CORI is assembling existing data on many indicators and identifying sampling gaps.

“This program couldn’t happen without many other organizations that are collecting data: governments, private organizations, the coastal guardian watchmen and the regional monitoring system of the Coastal First Nations, for example,” McPhie said. “We’re ensuring we have reliable data through our collaboration with CORI, as well as through data access agreements we hope to secure with other governments and organizations.”

MaPP partners are also now developing data management tools and public reporting strategies.

“By the end of 2019 we expect a comprehensive report with regional data for all the pilot indicators and how those data relate to MaPP strategies. Analysis of the data will tell us if our strategies are working and if we need to change our strategies because of ecosystem changes,” McPhie said.

“The purpose of indicator monitoring is to lead to better decision making. The Province can use the data to set or affirm priorities, allocate resources and inform policy and decision making,” said Kristin Worsley, manager of B.C.’s marine and coastal resources section and member of MaPP’s secretariat.

Steve Diggon, regional marine planning coordinator for Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative said, “Provincial decision-makers and First Nations will have evidence to inform their views on and decisions about issuing tenures for coastal activities.”

List of MaPP pilot regional indicators. Credit: MaPP.

List of MaPP pilot regional indicators. Credit: MaPP.

Many voices make for better policymaking and results

The North Vancouver Island Marine Plan Advisory Committee met with the MaPP Implementation Team in Campbell River on May 29, 2017. Photo credit: Bruce Storry.

The North Vancouver Island Marine Plan Advisory Committee met with the MaPP Implementation Team in Campbell River on May 29, 2017. Photo credit: Bruce Storry.

Integral to the MaPP planning process and the current implementation phase, has been the participation of many different individuals, groups and organizations connected in one way or another to the region’s rich marine environment. Otherwise known as stakeholders, this diverse mix of voices added much-valued input and authenticity to the creation of the North Vancouver Island (NVI) Marine Plan. Stakeholder advice and feedback was collected through the NVI Marine Plan Advisory Committee, (MPAC), whose members represented a broad range of marine sectors and interests. Stakeholders continue to make an impact, as seen in three recent MPAC meetings about implementation plans for the NVI sub-region.

There are many interpretations of the term stakeholder, how to meaningfully engage stakeholders and what makes their input so valuable.

Jim Abram, electoral area director for Discovery Islands-Mainland Inlets and local government representative for the Strathcona Regional District, typically views the term stakeholder as “very limiting” as it “usually applies to a specific interest”. However, he believes the input from the NVI marine advisory committee members has played an integral role in shaping the plan by continually bringing forward ideas and views that wouldn’t be known or considered otherwise. “Our local knowledge is invaluable. It is usually accepted, but sometimes not. If it isn’t, a reason is always given. The exchange is respectful and well-discussed.”

Jim McIsaac, coordinator for the B.C. Commercial Fishing Caucus, believes stakeholders diversify the knowledge base that leads to better decision-making and approaches to moving forward. “By having them engaged and bringing their knowledge to decisions, it strengthens all decisions made.” In terms of MaPP, “It creates more durable solutions for communities — creating that space where ecosystems and communities can co-exist, where well-being, economy and culture can co-exist with the environment, productivity and other species.”

Marine coordinator for the Nanwakolas Council and co-chair of the NVI planning team John Bones says stakeholder support has been critical to MaPP’s success. “We’re very pleased at being able to collaboratively develop a plan between the provincial government and our First Nations members. The value of having stakeholders at the table is that it gives everyone the opportunity to understand the plan and issues, and the First Nations perspective. Each First Nations community has different sectors of expertise and knowledge that’s extremely beneficial in making implementation activities relevant and rigorous.”

From a B.C. government perspective, Andy Witt, manager, Coastal and Aquatic Habitat and provincial co-lead for the NVI Marine Plan, agrees. “When you look at the development of a plan and its ultimate purpose, you cannot set a vision or determine objectives without engaging the people who are going to be part of that vision and are integral to implementing your objectives.”

“Having such a diverse group in the same room broadens everyone’s horizons, scopes and thoughts on other issues that are beyond their sectors’ primary focus,” says Barb Dinning, technical planner with MaPP for the NVI sub-region.

Dan Edwards, representative of the Commercial Fishing Caucus, believes that meaningfully engaging a range of viewpoints is essential. “That spectrum ranges from simply asking advice or consultation, to actually sitting down and building a plan together and sharing your experiences and interests and having a consensus framework for decision-making that would ultimately respect those interests.” For Edwards, meaningful engagement offers a critical way to protect his interests and the interests of those he represents.

Rick Snowdon, a local tourism business operator and board member of the North Island Marine Mammal Stewardship Association (a whale-watching industry group), sums everything up. “A stakeholder in a process like this is anyone with a unique point of view on the future needs of the region. ‘Engaging with stakeholders’ really means attempting to capture the diversity of needs and activities and incorporate those needs into a plan that’s inclusive and respectful of everyone.”


Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards (SEAS) projects in the Central Coast

High school students learn traditional skills on a SEAS Outdoors Club camping trip to Goose Island in Heiltsuk territory. Photo credit: Johanna Gordon-Walker.

High school students learn traditional skills on a SEAS Outdoors Club camping trip to Goose Island in Heiltsuk territory. Photo credit: Johanna Gordon-Walker.

Raised on a gillnetter in a fisher family, Howard Humchitt spent most of his childhood on the water learning how to harvest Heiltsuk Nation marine resources. “It’s a way of life for us,” he explains. “For many parents who own boats, their kids get their sea legs early. They get a feel for the ocean under their feet before they’re even walking.”

For families who don’t own boats or lack the resources to get out on the water, Howard says the Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards (SEAS) initiative fills a gap. As a SEAS Outdoors Club mentor in Heiltsuk territory, he says the program helps prepare First Nations youth to become the next generation of stewards in their communities.

“The SEAS outdoor program has given me a huge opportunity to pass on the knowledge that I’ve been taught by my father, uncles and brothers to others,” he says. “We help kids to get out and be a part of the land and a part of the ocean.”

First started in 2009, SEAS is active in the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv First Nations communities of the Central Coast of British Columbia. Classroom and outdoor activities are designed to cultivate a deeper understanding of traditional cultural beliefs and marine values.

“It keeps our kids in touch with who we are as a people,” Howard affirms. “We’ve always been a part of the ocean. It’s a mainstay of our diet.”

In line with the goals of the Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP), the SEAS Outdoors Club helps foster ocean stewardship. High school students learn practical skills in fishing, wilderness first aid and boat safety. They visit ancient clam middens and learn how important ocean resources have been to their community for thousands of years.

“Stewardship is something that is learned by being out on the land and the water,” says SEAS instructor Johanna Gordon-Walker. “Students are picking up the skills needed to become young leaders and the confidence to share their skills. They know how to make a fire and cook over it and they learn the territory well enough to know which way to go in a boat.”

The Central Coast Marine Plan includes objectives and strategies aimed at protecting and sustaining the region’s rich traditional and cultural resources by engaging young people in traditional use activities. SEAS brings elders into the classroom to demonstrate how to use plants as medicine and to teach the cultural protocols for sharing harvests with the community. Grade 4 students study herring science on the water. They learn how to set tree branches for herring roe and to preserve the eggs.

“The thing that really sticks with you most is the wonder and awe factor,” says Johanna. “It’s a huge adventure for the younger children to go out on a boat for the day. The more they learn, the more questions they have.”

Funding for MaPP supports SEAS program coordination, cultivating the next generation of stewards to carry out marine plan implementation. On this year’s first winter camping trip, students job-shadowed commercial crab and prawn fishers.

At the end of the SEAS program, some graduates aspire to work with the coastal guardian watchmen or the Coast Guard. For others, learning to harvest ocean resources for their families makes them feel appreciated and gives them a productive role in their communities.

The experience is rewarding for Howard, too.

“When the students see something for the first time, I take joy in seeing their eyes light up,” Howard recounts. “When somebody sees a wolf for the first time, I realise it’s not just another wolf. It’s the first wolf this person is seeing. Every one of these opportunities make me appreciate what we have and allows me to see something for the first time– again.”

At the mouth of the Skeena: A unique estuary

Tidal mudflats and shallow intertidal passages in the Skeena Estuary provide vital habitat for fish and birds. Photo credit: Brian Huntington.

Tidal mudflats and shallow intertidal passages in the Skeena Estuary provide vital habitat for fish and birds. Photo credit: Brian Huntington.

Originating high in the coastal mountains of northwestern British Columbia, the Skeena is the second largest river in the province and one of the world’s longest undammed waterways. It winds 610 kilometres from its headwaters to its rich estuary near Prince Rupert.

The mouth of the Skeena is a world onto itself. Unlike most estuaries, the Skeena does not have a single distinct intertidal delta. Instead, sediments from the river are deposited in shoals along the lower river and channels that connect the estuary to the open ocean. The result: a region of extensive mudflats and shallow intertidal passages. Here, eelgrass beds and kelp forests so vital to the health of other species flourish. The area supports some of the largest fish populations on the coast and it is a critical waterfowl habitat. All Skeena salmon spend part of their life in the estuary and depend on its health as juveniles and as returning adults. The Skeena Mouth is important to the region’s First Nations and includes ancient village sites, harvesting areas and sacred places. With its natural beauty and abundant wildlife, it is also a great spot for ecotourism.

First Nations harvesting eulachon on the Skeena River. Photo credit: Penny White.

First Nations harvesting eulachon on the Skeena River. Photo credit: Penny White.

To help protect this “super habitat,” the Province of British Columbia and First Nations in the North Coast plan area, represented by the North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society (NCSFNSS), identified the mouth of the Skeena River as a protection management zone (PMZ). Land use decisions consistent with the recommendations in the North Coast Marine Plan will help ensure the sustainability of this unusually productive and complex ecosystem that is so important for a number of culturally, recreationally and economically important marine species.

One such species in particular has an important role in nature and culture: eulachon. These small ocean fish return to the estuary at the end of every winter and, while their lack of commercial value means little research has been undertaken, their value to the area’s First Nations people is immeasurable. To this day eulachon are an important part of indigenous communities’ diets.

The eulachon run attracts other species like sea lions and gulls to the Skeena River to feed. Photo credit: Allison Paul.

The eulachon run attracts other species like sea lions and gulls to the Skeena River to feed. Photo credit: Allison Paul.

“The eulachon run is one of the first signs of spring along the Skeena,” says Penny White, a fisheries biologist with NCSFNSS, which helps coordinate the monitoring efforts for the eulachon harvest. “After a long winter, eulachon were often the first fresh food available and were relied upon for their nutritional value.”

She adds, “The run this year was extremely late; we didn’t see any eulachon until March. We were worried they wouldn’t come at all but, when they arrived, life on the river exploded. It’s an amazing sight with thousands of gulls, seals and sea lions all following the fish.”

Penny talks with fishermen and elders along the river to get an estimate of the eulachon run, how much each person harvests, who they are fishing with and how long it takes fishermen to get enough fish for themselves and those they share with.

A bucket of eulachon on ice. Photo credit: Penny White.

A bucket of eulachon on ice. Photo credit: Penny White.

MaPP identifies the importance for First Nations to have access to traditional foods and recognizes the value of protecting the variety and quantity of marine resources for First Nations use. It considers data on food security needs and First Nations use when selecting areas for protection. “Food security is a big issue our Nations are facing and it’s a priority for NCSFNSS,” says Penny.

The best way to understand the cultural, biological and economic importance of the Skeena Estuary is to get to know it. After a short visit, you may become inspired to participate in efforts to enhance stewardship of this truly unique coastal habitat to ensure future generations can enjoy all that it has to offer.

NCSFNSS fisheries biologist Penny White. Photo credit: Penny White.

NCSFNSS fisheries biologist Penny White. Photo credit: Penny White.

Hunting down aliens: An international team tracks the spread of tunicates in Haida Gwaii waters

Can you spot the difference? Invasive tunicate colonies on settlement plates collected by a team of aquatic invasive invertebrate specialists on Haida Gwaii. Clockwise, from the top left image: Chain tunicate; Star tunicate; Star tunicate and Chain tunicate; Chain tunicate. Photo credit: Haida Nation/Stuart Crawford, Marine Planning Program, Council of the Haida Nation.

Can you spot the difference? Invasive tunicate colonies on settlement plates collected by a team of aquatic invasive invertebrate specialists on Haida Gwaii. Clockwise, from the top left image: Chain tunicate; Star tunicate; Star tunicate and Chain tunicate; Chain tunicate. Photo credit: Haida Nation/Stuart Crawford, Marine Planning Program, Council of the Haida Nation.

Slimy and brightly coloured, these aliens – otherwise known as Chain tunicate (Botrylloides violaceus) and Star tunicate (Botryllus sclosseri) – spread across docks, boats, gear and the rocky seafloor, smothering seaweeds, barnacles, shellfish and any other species in their path. Because of their ability to overgrow and spread quickly, invasive tunicates are considered a big threat. They can reduce natural biodiversity, damage infrastructure, invade key recreational areas and result in major costs to aquaculture operations.

How the tunicates came to Haida Gwaii is a mystery but the fact remains that these aquatic aliens are here to stay. To identify where these tunicates and other aquatic invasive invertebrate species are, and to work to prevent their spread, a team of alien hunters was assembled which includes staff from the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN) Marine Planning Program, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), Gwaii Haanas and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In October 2016 this team – Stuart Crawford and Lais Chaves (CHN Marine Planning), Lynn Lee (Gwaii Haanas), Vanessa Hodes and Erika Anderson (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) and Linda McCann and Kristen Larson (SERC) – resumed the annual hunt in Haida Gwaii.*

Hunting for tunicates is a relatively simple affair: flat ceramic squares called “settlement plates” are weighted with chunks of brick and lowered to one meter in depth in the water column. The plates are then collected a few months later and analyzed using microscopes for signs of an alien invasion.

This is the third year that the hunt has taken place. In 2014, the team put out their first sampling plates, which they collected and analyzed in the fall of 2015. This process has been repeated twice with more plates being dropped into Haida Gwaii waters every year.

Meet the team (from left to right): Erika Anderson (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), Stuart Crawford (CHN – Marine Planning), Lynn Lee (Gwaii Haanas), Vanessa Hodes (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) and Linda McCann and Kristen Larson (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center). Missing from photo: Lais Chaves (CHN – Marine Planning). Photo credit: Jacquie Lanthier.

Meet the team (from left to right): Erika Anderson (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), Stuart Crawford (CHN – Marine Planning), Lynn Lee (Gwaii Haanas), Vanessa Hodes (Fisheries and Oceans Canada) and Linda McCann and Kristen Larson (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center). Missing from photo: Lais Chaves (CHN – Marine Planning). Photo credit: Jacquie Lanthier.

Supported in part by the Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP), in the spring of 2016, CHN staff put out fifty plates in five locations; Gwaii Haanas staff put out an additional forty plates in four locations (see map below). “We wanted to see how far the invaders had spread,” says CHN marine ecosystem-based management (EBM) coordinator Stuart Crawford, “so we looked at several new sites that have never been monitored for invasive species.” This included sites on the Daawuuxusda/Duuguusd west coast, Ḵ’iids Gwaay/Ḵ’iis Gwaayee Langara Island and Moresby Camp.

The results of this year’s hunt were a mixed bag. The new sites were all free of tunicates, which, in the words of Stuart Crawford, “is great news.” However, he also had some bad news to report: “We found the invasive Star tunicate in Port Clements. This invader has been in Masset since before 2007, but did not reach Port Clements until this year.”

Minimizing the introduction and impacts of invasive species is a priority objective in the MaPP CHN-B.C. Haida Gwaii Marine Plan (2015). The CHN and the Province of B.C. will continue to collaborate with Gwaii Haanas, DFO and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on monitoring aquatic invasive species in Haida Gwaii as part of the Haida Gwaii EBM monitoring program. The marine plan partners will be developing a marine invasive species management plan as well as educational and outreach materials to better prevent their introduction and spread in Haida Gwaii.

Map of settlement plate sites. The red dots represent sites put out and collected by CHN staff, while the green dots represent sites where settlement plates were put out and collected by Gwaii Haanas staff. Map credit: Haida Nation/Stuart Crawford, Marine Planning Program.

Map of settlement plate sites. The red dots represent sites put out and collected by CHN staff, while the green dots represent sites where settlement plates were put out and collected by Gwaii Haanas staff. Map credit: Haida Nation/Stuart Crawford, Marine Planning Program.

Tunicates in Haida Gwaii are here to stay. However, we can slow or stop the spread of tunicates or other invaders by early detection and intervention through measures such as periodic inspections and hull maintenance of the vessels that may inadvertently transport them from place to place.


*Some opportunistic monitoring for aquatic invasive invertebrates by Fisheries and Oceans Canada also took place in Haida Gwaii in 2007, 2012 and 2013. In 2014 DFO secured funding for a three year monitoring program. This monitoring work was done by a contractor in 2014, but for the subsequent two years monitoring has been a collective effort by DFO, Gwaii Haanas, HOTT and the Smithsonian Institute.

How many, how much? Gearing up for a Haida Gwaii shellfish aquaculture carrying capacity study

Just imagine – It is a beautiful spring day, and you’re out on your skiff with the family. Crab and prawn traps, coolers, and blankets are loaded. You are looking forward to a meal of crabs later on, but as you cruise towards your favorite spot, you see a row of buoys ahead of you and as you draw closer, you realize that your passage is blocked – you will have to turn back!

HG Shellfish Survey Team

Brian Kingzett and the VIU team (from left to right: Brian Kingzett, Ramón Filgueira, Don Tillapaugh, and Dave Cake – and Captain Barney Edgars) survey Skidegate Inlet. Photo Credit: Stuart Crawford.

There is significant interest on Haida Gwaii to pursue shellfish aquaculture as part of a diversified marine economy. This interest is captured in the Council of the Haida Nation (CHN)-B.C. Haida Gwaii Marine Plan, which lists shellfish aquaculture as one of five areas available for marine economic development for the islands’ communities. Several inlets have been identified as having good potential for cultivating shellfish, including scallops and oysters, and the seasonal outdoor work associated with shellfish cultivation is well-suited to the islands’ existing labour force.

But like a “choose your own adventure” book, the boating scenario above points to some of the issues that can arise when economic development is pursued without careful consideration of the cultural, social, and ecological activities in an area. To address those concerns a study known as a ‘carrying capacity analysis’ is usually carried out. This type of study focuses on the ability of an area to sustain a particular activity without compromising the natural environment, as well as ensuring that the people who live, work, harvest food, and recreate in the area are not significantly impacted by a type of activity.

‘Capacity’ is measured in different ways, depending on the activity that is being looked at: For example, in 1996 Gwaii Haanas established an annual limit of 33,000 visitor days and nights based on visual impact surveys as well as stakeholder and public consultation. The limit was developed to protect the ecological and cultural heritage of the area and to maintain a “wilderness” experience for Gwaii Haanas visitors.

A ‘capacity’ study for shellfish aquaculture may focus on things like the location of traditional seafood harvesting areas, ocean views from the homes, and the routes of local tourism companies, to name only a few. In turn, a carrying capacity study may also inform management decisions related to the number, location, and size of permitted sites, as well as aesthetic requirements (e.g. the use of black or green floats to maintain views in an area) and direction on the types of species that may be cultivated.

The Marine Plan Partnership contracted shellfish aquaculture specialist Brian Kingzett and Vancouver Island University to develop and apply a methodology to calculate the carrying capacity for shellfish aquaculture development in several key sites in the Haida Gwaii area, including Skidegate Inlet. Mr. Kingzett assembled a cross-Canada team that traveled to Haida Gwaii in January, 2016 for a site visit and meeting with CHN and B.C. technical staff to go over the proposed methodology. The CHN Marine Planning Program and B.C. staff worked with the consultants during the project and the teams are currently finalizing revisions to the report.

Tracking cumulative effects

Maya Paul

Maya Paul, North Coast cumulative effects coordinator. Photo credit: Maya Paul.

Growing up in the rolling savannah of Botswana in southern Africa, Maya Paul could never have imagined that she would one day find herself living amid the rain forests of British Columbia’s north coast. Yet that’s exactly where her expertise in strategic planning and engagement has led her.

In January 2016, Maya was appointed cumulative effects coordinator for the North Coast MaPP sub-region, working on behalf of both the North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society and the Province of B.C. “My role is to coordinate the collaborative development and implementation of a MaPP cumulative effects framework in the North Coast,” she says.

container ship

Container traffic in Prince Rupert has increased at a faster pace than any other North American port. Photo credit: Maya Paul.

Cumulative effects are changes to environmental, social and economic values that are caused by the combined effects of past, present and reasonable foreseeable actions or events. Maya has the task of coordinating the development of a framework that accounts for changes to core marine values from human activities on a large stretch of coastline in northern B.C. that includes First Nations communities and the bustling hubs of Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat. Development is being proposed at a rapid pace in the region and Paul hopes to pinpoint the major concerns of coastal communities around effects on core values from the rush of new projects, several of which are still in the midst of environmental assessments.

“A key component of the framework we are developing involves defining the core values of people in these communities,” notes Maya. “Once we identify the core values we have to establish indicators for those values, prioritize them, create a monitoring system, and then try to anticipate how those core values might change over time.”

NC bear salmon

Understanding core values is a key component of cumulative effects assessment. Photo credit: Birgitte Bartlett.

Although core values can be basic things like clean water, clean air and healthy food, her work also addresses the effect of development on socio-cultural and economic values, which can be harder to define. “For example, First Nations worry that their access to traditional resources will change from impacts to the health and quality of their seafood, socioeconomic impediments, or access to the harvest areas,” explains Maya. The framework is intended to guide management and regulatory processes in order to improve the stewardship of coastal and marine ecosystems and resources, and the human well-being of coastal communities. “Ultimately, the goal is to sustain the core coastal and marine values over the long run.”

The theme of sustainability has been a major driver in Maya’s life since she left Africa and attended the University of Guelph in Ontario where she earned a Master of Science in Environmental and Resource Economics. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science.

dock net

Calculating cumulative effects in marine ecosystems is challenging because values and impacts often cross jurisdictional boundaries. Photo credit: Allison Paul.

The MaPP governance structure established to implement the North Coast Marine Plan is unique in that it involves a collaborative working arrangement between two governments: provincial and First Nations. Creating clean lines of communications between the two camps is at the crux of Maya’s work. “I love bringing people together to ensure sustainability. It’s all about working collaboratively. You can’t accomplish anything enduring unless you bring the different decision-making groups together to sit in the same room and collaborate.”

“The cumulative effects framework that is developed by the MaPP partners here will inform the partners’ approach to stewardship on the North Coast moving into the future,” explains Maya. “We expect it to be a living document.”

halibut dry

Natural resources of the North Coast have high cultural significance to the residents. Photo credit: Maya Paul.

Coastal Guardian Watchman training and ecosystem-based management indicator development


(Clockwise from top) Vernon Brown, Curtis Rollie, Anna Gerrard, and Chantal Pronteau review MaPP deliverables, discussing objectives and required actions and outcomes. Photo credit: Gord McGee.

First Nations people have long understood that the use of natural resources needs to be carefully managed in order to remain sustainable. They recognize that species, ecosystems and humans cannot be considered in isolation – healthy environments and healthy communities go hand-in-hand. This has been a guiding principle in their relationship with nature for thousands of years. Today, the Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative Coastal Stewardship Network is supporting First Nations in using monitoring and standardized data collection to demonstrate scientifically why this approach, known as ecosystem-based management (EBM), is so important to preserving the lands and waters for future generations.

Chantal Pronteau and Curtis Rollie are guardian watchmen in the Central Coast’s Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nation. This is the second year they have been monitoring and protecting their territory’s natural resources. Both live in Klemtu but are stationed in remote Mussel Inlet for three months of the year and spend an additional three months monitoring the rest of their Nation’s vast area.

With support from the Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP), Rollie and Pronteau took the first level of the Coastal First Nations Stewardship Technicians Training Program and are now participating in Level 2. The training includes 14 courses that develop a variety of skills including environmental compliance and monitoring.

Rollie Gerrard work

Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nation Guardian Watchman Curtis Rollie (left) and Marine Plan implementation coordinator Anna Gerrard go over the upcoming guardian watchman schedule and responsibilities. Photo credit: Gord McGee.

“The training made a huge difference to how we do our work,” says Pronteau. “It made me more comfortable in my role as a watchman. This is work that can’t be done from a desk; we are the stewards of this land.”

“I’ve learned what to look for when patrolling, how to approach people so they feel welcome, and how to enforce First Nations laws,” says Rollie. “The small motors course has been valuable as we rely on our boats every day to accomplish our tasks.”

EBM monitoring is a priority for near-term implementation of the MaPP Central Coast Marine Plan, and Rollie and Pronteau collect data to support a variety of indicators including key species as well as noting human pressures on the ecosystem. They enter their findings on tablets and upload the information to the Coastal First Nations Regional Monitoring System (RMS).

“We’ll enter how many crab traps we see and where they are, how many boats we see and what they’re doing,” says Rollie. “We’ll record locations of logging and fishing tenures to monitor whether they’re operating in the right zone. We’ve done a rockfish survey where we count all the fish we catch in a 15-minute span and document all of them. We record water temperature, salinity and pH levels. We have a long list of things to check and all these indicators show us how everything is interconnected.”

Lara Hoshizaki administers the database that guardian watchmen such as Pronteau and Rollie upload information to. As the regional monitoring system coordinator, she works closely with the six Coastal First Nations that use the RMS and provides monthly reports.

CC CGW boat

Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nation Guardian Watchmen Curtis Rollie (left) and Chantal Pronteau (right) work with the Coastal Stewardship Network’s training coordinator Elodie Button (centre) to measure ocean pH in their Nation’s territory. Photo credit: Curtis Rollie.

“A standardized system is able to provide a more accurate regional picture,” says Hoshizaki. “The data collected support Nations in studying and communicating what’s happening in their territories in a quantifiable way and also support ongoing scientific research, for example, the trap sighting data collected by the RMS is shared with the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance for use alongside their ongoing Dungeness Crab research. EBM monitoring offers a holistic picture by looking at a broad suite of indicators related to ecological, economic, social and cultural well-being, and can provide solutions from several perspectives.”

An EBM framework guides the implementation of many of the MaPP strategies and the work the guardian watchmen perform is important to its success. Through training, MaPP is building capacity to collect data related to EBM indicators. This improves monitoring and enforcement and measures long-term changes in ecological and human well-being.

Collaborative marine management underway on B.C.’s North Coast: A primer on the Regional Action Framework


The white-bordered area in this satellite image shows the B.C. coastal region addressed by the Regional Action Framework (RAF). Each of the four sub-regions, whose locally-developed marine plans were used to create the RAF, are shown within the RAF boundary.

The Regional Action Framework (RAF) is the result of intensive consultation and planning for marine areas along the North Pacific Coast of B.C., from Campbell River through to the Alaskan border. Its broad view prioritizes both ecosystem and human well-being, as well as collaborative and efficient marine management.

With a 20-year scope, implementation of the RAF is now underway.

The Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP) plan area is comprised of four sub-regions: Haida Gwaii, the North Coast, the Central Coast and North Vancouver Island. As each sub-region has its own unique set of marine environments, local values, governance mechanisms, and socio-economic contexts, the MaPP partners agreed in 2011 that each sub-region would develop its own goals for marine management, in consultation with local stakeholders.

Knowing there would be some overlap among all sub-regional priorities, MaPP partners agreed in the same year to also create a framework that considers the entire region, looking at broad ecosystem issues as a whole.

The result is the RAF, completed in May 2016. It identifies common elements from all four sub-regional marine plans, and supports the sub-regions to work together in addressing common goals. This collaboration on the actions identified in the RAF will benefit the region as a whole, saving time and money. Over the 20-year implementation period the RAF aims to improve both coastal community and ocean health.

Implementation of some shared priorities is already well-underway.

One priority is developing and monitoring indicators for both human well-being in the region, which includes monitoring new economic opportunities and investments, as well as ecological integrity, which includes monitoring ocean conditions, intertidal life and species composition.

“For example, MaPP technicians and community members from all sub-regions identified that monitoring eelgrass abundance and distribution was important, so that will likely become one of our regional indicators,” said Romney McPhie, the regional projects coordinator for MaPP, who helps coordinate MaPP partners across the sub-regions. “Observing these trends in eelgrass beds over time will help MaPP partners assess how their actions on other priorities may be impacting eelgrass”, McPhie noted.

Ecosystem-based management underlies the RAF, where both ecological and human well-being are considered as components of an entire system. It’s an adaptive approach, and in keeping with that, evaluations and adjustments will be made to the RAF every five years.

Planning undertaken by MaPP partners, including creation of the RAF, has demonstrated an unprecedented level of collaboration in marine management for B.C.’s coast. The provincial government and 18 First Nations partnered during the planning phase, and collaboration between the Province and First Nations continues throughout implementation. Traditional knowledge and values of partner First Nations were an integral part of developing the RAF, along with provincial government priorities, and local community values.

The RAF also received input from an advisory committee of marine-based stakeholders, including industry representatives, conservationists, recreationalists, and elected local officials, as well as from a science advisory committee.

Additional RAF actions underway include identifying climate change indicators that will inform response strategies, assessing cumulative effects of overlapping activities in coastal areas, supporting and coordinating pollution responses, coordinating and supporting the development of marine emergency response plans and planned performance monitoring to ensure that the RAF is effectively implemented.

Through the RAF and sub-regional plans, MaPP partners aim to improve coastal ocean health, increase employment in local communities and diversify jobs, and give proponents more certainty concerning their investments in the coastal zone. Over the long-term, the RAF will enable a broader understanding of how the ocean works and ensure all those concerned have a deeper understanding of how to manage the North Pacific Coast of B.C. more holistically and efficiently.

NVI Sub-region probes shellfish aquaculture, guardian programs, and economic development


At the Tlowitsis Nation village site on Turnour Island, Guardians in training explore how drones can be used for conservation monitoring. The opportunities and challenges associated with these programs were the focus of a recently completed study—one of three that were commissioned as part of MaPP implementation in North Vancouver Island. Photo credit: Scott Harris.

MaPP co-leads in the North Vancouver Island (NVI) Marine Plan area are carefully reviewing a trio of newly completed reports that suggest critical roles for First Nations in economic development and conservation activities.

“These studies show that we’re serious about implementing this plan, and that there are economic opportunities for everyone here—even in stewardship,” says John Bones. As marine coordinator for the Nanwakolas Council, he helped design the scopes of work for the reports, which were completed as part of MaPP implementation in this sub-region.

One report explores opportunities for development of key sectors: coastal forestry, seafood processing and marketing, research and monitoring, marine-based renewable energy, aquaculture and tourism. It suggests actions to advance them and ranks these by potential impact, approximate cost and time frame.

It offers no “silver bullet” solutions but suggests many opportunities could be unlocked by greater collaboration, both among First Nations communities and between aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities. It identifies ways to strengthen individual communities’ access to economic development expertise and to bolster connections among economic development experts (and investors) in communities around the sub-region. It also recommends development of an NVI economic development plan to identify synergies between multiple local planning processes.

Tourism is seen as especially promising. Low-cost actions with potentially high impact include greater cooperation between MaPP partners and Vancouver Island North Tourism, development of aboriginal and cultural tourism, and better promotion to international markets of the sub-region as a whole.

Shellfish aquaculture is the focus of a second report. It analyzes biophysical capabilities of 22 areas that the NVI Marine Plan zones for Special Management–Cultural/Economic Emphasis, using extensive datasets from government and salmon farms in the region. It also considers factors like nearness to services and labour, and likelihood of local acceptance.

The result? “Shellfish aquaculture could supply some local markets, but large-scale commercial aquaculture of Pacific oysters or Manila clams probably won’t fly in North Vancouver Island,” says Bones, citing the key obstacle: frigid waters. “But it does suggest potential for aquaculture of blue mussels, and kelp for huge Asian markets.”

Four areas are flagged for deeper investigation: Booker Lagoon, Kalogwis, Minstrel Island/Call Inlet/Havanna Channel, and Port Neville. Pilot-scale projects, adapted from models used by other First Nations to identify viable growing sites and train people, are recommended.

A third report investigates opportunities to power up the five guardian programs that make up the sub-region’s Ha-ma-yas Stewardship Network. They and their counterparts in other MaPP sub-regions engage First Nations in activities that support conservation and resource management.

The report lauds the “significant progress” of Ha-ma-yas and recommends partnerships with relevant B.C. government agencies. For example, guardian watchmen could conduct joint patrols with conservation officers and park rangers. Opportunities for collaboration could be explored by B.C. Parks, the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations’ archaeological branch, and Nanwakolas member nations that have conservancy agreements and marine protected areas.

Provincial government staff interviewed by the researchers identified several potential barriers to collaboration with guardian watchmen programs, including complexities associated with overlapping territories.

Andy Witt, the B.C. government MaPP co-lead for NVI, sees scope for the Guardian Program to support implementation of the NVI Marine Plan. “To capitalize on the opportunities identified in the report, the key challenges for the MaPP partners to address are issues associated with liability, personal safety, and provincial jurisdictional limitations in the marine environment,” says Witt.

In fact, all provincial interviewees viewed collaboration with guardian watchmen positively in the areas of ecological monitoring; compliance promotion through presence on the water to “observe, record and report”; and provision of data to support enforcement activities. They stressed the importance of building trust and relationships through joint actions as a starting point.

Bones is hopeful about possibilities. “We really appreciated that B.C. government tenuring agencies were so supportive of this study and so forthcoming with the researchers, and that B.C. Parks seems quite open to exploring a bigger role for guardian watchmen,” he says.

The three reports were shared at a MaPP implementation advisory committee meeting in October 2016.

MaPP team presents at the fourth International Marine Conservation Congress

MaPP delegation IMCC4

Jo Smith, Dallas Smith, Rich Chapple, Kristin Worsley, Maya Paul, Cathy Rigg and Karen Topelko respond to questions following their presentations during the MaPP session at the IMCC4. Photo credit: Ian Byington.

A delegation from MaPP presented a two-hour session at the fourth International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC4) held in St. John’s, Newfoundland from July 30 to Aug. 3, 2016. The biannual meeting drew together 690 marine conservation professionals and students from 50 countries who exchanged information and ideas related to the overall conference theme, making marine science meaningful.

The session, Marine planning in Canada: Results and lessons from the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP), was chaired by former MaPP science coordinator, Jo Smith, now the marine spatial planning science manager with The Nature Conservancy, and featured six presentations and a panel discussion to an audience of 125 people.

Dallas Smith, then President of the Nanwakolas Council, spoke about how the MaPP planning process integrated First Nations culture and governance with science and policy.

Kristin Worsley, manager, Marine and Coastal Resources, B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, described zoning in a multi-jurisdictional marine space – a spatial framework for integrated marine resource management in Canada’s North Pacific Coast.

Rich Chapple, President of the Central Coast Indigenous Resources Alliance, addressed the role of traditional and place-based knowledge in marine planning on the Central Coast.

Maya Paul, cumulative effects coordinator with the North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society, spoke about planning for the North Coast and navigating marine management amidst a surge in industrial development.

Cathy Rigg, socio-economic planner with the Council of the Haida Nation, described how the Haida Gwaii marine planning process utilized community connections and cross-scale linkages.

Karen Topelko, marine planner, Marine and Coastal Resources, B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, addressed successes, lessons learned and implementing the MaPP marine plans and reflected on the marine spatial planning process in B.C.

The presentations were followed by a 30-minute question and answer session. Audience members posed questions about the importance of relationship-building and developing trust with government agencies, about traditional methods of resource management by First Nations before colonization, about federal government involvement in the marine planning process, and about how out-of-scope sectors were addressed in the marine plans.

Members of the audience also viewed display copies of the marine plans and received copies of the plan overviews.

That evening, Green Fire Productions aired a video, Great Bear Sea – First Nations & British Columbia Partner on Marine Plans, to a standing room-only crowd of 120 people. Following the screening, producer Karen Anspacher-Meyer moderated a question and answer session with a panel of MaPP participants including Dallas Smith; Russ Jones, manager, Marine Planning with the Council of the Haida Nation; and Karen Topelko. Topics addressed included the importance of relationship-building, advice for the new marine planning process in Hudson Bay, how community and stakeholder support for the plans was gained and the next steps for MaPP.

The MaPP delegation was pleased to have the opportunity to present to colleagues about marine planning in B.C. They noted the substantial interest generated by their presentations, references to MaPP heard in other presentations from B.C. delegates, and they look forward to continued contact with others doing similar marine planning work around the world.

First Nations and Province sign marine plan implementation agreements

For Immediate Release
Aug. 3, 2016
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance,
Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative
Council of the Haida Nation
Nanwakolas Council
North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society

First Nations and Province sign marine plan implementation agreements

VICTORIA – Today, the Province and 17 coastal First Nations signed implementation agreements for four Marine Planning Partnership (MaPP) marine plans, collaboratively developed for the North Pacific Coast.

Completed in 2015, the plans foster a balance between stewardship and economic development using an ecosystem-based management approach that includes recommendations for marine management, uses and activities. Plans have been completed for four sub-regions: the Central Coast, Haida Gwaii, North Coast, and North Vancouver Island. In addition to the sub-regional marine plans, the Regional Action Framework, released this spring, outlines actions related to marine management that the Province and First Nations agree will be most effectively implemented on a regional scale. These actions are consistent with and support implementation of the sub-regional marine plans.

Taken together, these plans will inform First Nation and provincial decision-making in the respective sub-regional coastal and marine areas. The marine plans do not address management of uses and activities that the Province considers to be federal government jurisdiction. First Nations and the Province commit to working with the federal government on those issues.

In signing the implementation agreements, the partners agree to co-lead implementation of the marine plans, including ongoing engagement with communities, local governments, and stakeholders. The agreements describe how the Province and First Nations will work together and how implementation activities will be prioritized and managed. Example priorities include continuing collaborative governance arrangements; implementation of marine zoning; fostering marine stewardship, monitoring and compliance; and facilitating sustainable economic development opportunities to support healthy communities.

Implementation of the four marine plans will complement related plans and planning activities, such as the Pacific North Coast Integrated Marine Area Initiative, and the development of a Marine Protected Area Network for the Northern Shelf Bioregion, in addition to other MaPP partner initiatives within the sub-regions.


 Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations –

“I’m pleased that we are able to formally begin implementation of these important marine plans. These plans chart a long-term vision for our northern maritime areas and provide a useful set of recommendations to help facilitate the review, assessment and referral processes for marine use applications.”

John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation –

“The implementation of these plans signals an important step forward in our efforts to improve relationships with First Nations on governance and management issues.”

kil tlaats ‘gaa, Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation –

“The Haida Gwaii Marine Plan is an important addition to the work the Haida Nation has completed on the land, working collaboratively with the Province for the well-being of Haida Gwaii. We look forward to working on the implementation of shared priorities that will sustain healthy oceans and an abundance of marine life for generations to come.”

Don Roberts, Chief Kitsumkalum Nation, chair of the North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society –

“Implementation of the recommendations in the MaPP North Coast Marine Plan is a priority to the member and partner Nations of the North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society. Signing this agreement means we will have a stronger working relationship with the Province of B.C. This will result in the protection of our resources and a healthy marine ecosystem.”

Doug Neasloss, governance representative, Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance –

“The Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations take responsibility for all the resources in our territories. While there is still much work to do to ensure our indigenous laws are reflected in all marine management decisions, working with the Province to implement the Central Coast Marine Plan represents an important step in our continued effort to ensure responsible stewardship and management in these areas. ”

Dallas Smith, President, Nanwakolas Council –

“The Nanwakolas Council is pleased to confirm an official implementation agreement with the Province that commits to our continued co-leadership in implementing the North Vancouver Island Marine Plan in our member First Nation territories. We jointly developed this marine plan with B.C. and signed it last year, on the condition of a formal implementation agreement. We now look forward to accelerating projects that will increase our governance and influence over marine uses and activities in our territories, as well as projects to achieve our goals for improved community economic health and ecosystem health.”

Kelly Russ, chair, Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative –

“The implementation of marine plans ensures strategic, forward-looking planning for regulating, managing and protecting the marine environment. These plans include addressing the multiple, cumulative, and potentially conflicting uses of the ocean. The Coastal First Nations believe the marine plans are an important tool to balance existing and new ocean uses with protection, conservation and restoration of ecologically important ocean and coastal habitats.”

Learn More:

A backgrounder follows.

Media Contact:           

Media Relations
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
250 356-5261

Russ Jones
Manager, Marine Planning
Council of the Haida Nation
250 559-4468

Ken Cripps
Program Director
Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance
250 739-0740

Robert Grodecki
Executive Director
North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society
250 624-8614

John Bones
Marine Planning Coordinator
Nanwakolas Council
250 652-4002

Kelly Russ
Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative
604 828-4621

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect



Marine planning partnership regions


Central Coast Sub-Region

The Central Coast plan area extends from Laredo Channel and the northern tip of Aristazabal Island in the north to the southern limit of Rivers Inlet and Calvert Island. Moving from the west, the area includes the shelf waters of Queen Charlotte Sound, hundreds of islands, and exposed rocky headlands which meet an intricate shoreline in the eastern portion of the plan area. The shoreline is cut by narrow channels and steep-walled fjords that contain ecologically complex estuaries, calm inlets and pocket coves. Its main communities include Bella Coola, Bella Bella, Ocean Falls, Wuikinuxv, Shearwater and Klemtu. First Nations partners participating in the Central Coast Marine Plan include the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations.

Haida Gwaii Sub-Region

Xaadaa Gwaay, Xaaydag̱a Gwaay.yaay, or Haida Gwaii (“Islands of the people”) is an archipelago on the edge of the continental shelf off the north coast of British Columbia. It is surrounded by several large bodies of water – Hecate Strait separates Haida Gwaii from the mainland, and the islands are bounded by Dixon Entrance in the north, Queen Charlotte Sound to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The chain of islands extends roughly 250 kilometres from its southern tip to its northernmost point and includes the communities of G̱aaw (Old Massett), Masset, Gamadiis Llnagaay (Port Clements), Tll.aal Llnagaay (Tlell), Hlg̱aagilda (Skidegate), Daajing Giids (Queen Charlotte) and K’il Llnagaay (Sandspit). Boundaries for the Haida Gwaii plan area are defined by the Haida Statement of Claim (east/south), the international boundary with the United States (north), and the toe of the continental slope (west). Gwaii Haanas is included in the Haida Gwaii sub-region but spatial zoning for this area is being addressed through a separate planning process.

North Coast Sub-Region

The North Coast plan area includes an impressive stretch of coastline that is indented with deep fjords and dotted with thousands of islands. It is a region of profound beauty, significant ecological diversity and remarkable cultural richness. The North Coast plan area extends from Portland Inlet to the south end of Aristazabal Island, where it has an overlap with the northern boundary of the Central Coast plan area. The western edge of the North Coast plan area borders the Haida Gwaii plan area. Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat are the largest communities in the North Coast plan area, and support an overall population of approximately 42,000 people. Participating First Nations in the North plan area include the Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Kitsumkalum, Kitselas, Haisla, and Metlakatla Nations, who are represented by the North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society, in this planning process.

North Vancouver Island Sub-Region

The North Vancouver Island plan area is home to the Kwakw’ka’wakw First Nations and lies between northern Vancouver Island and B.C.’s mainland. There are many islands, inlets and fjords within the area, which is characterized by its natural beauty and biodiversity of species and ecosystems. Major water bodies include Queen Charlotte Sound, Queen Charlotte Strait, Johnstone Strait, Smith Inlet, Seymour Inlet, Knight Inlet and Bute Inlet. The plan area includes the communities of Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Alert Bay, Sayward and Campbell River. Members of the Nanwakolas Council and partners in the MaPP initiative are: Mamalilikulla-Qwe’Qwa’Sot’Em, Tlowitsis, Da’nakda’xw-Awaetlatla, Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw, Wei Wai Kum, Kwiakah and the K’ómoks First Nations.


Media Contact:           

Media Relations
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
250 356-5261

Russ Jones
Manager, Marine Planning
Council of the Haida Nation
250 559-4468

Ken Cripps
Program Director
Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance
250 739-0740

Robert Grodecki
Executive Director
North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society
250 624-8614

John Bones
Marine Planning Coordinator
Nanwakolas Council
250 652-4002

Kelly Russ
Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative
604 828-4621

Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect

MaPP Receives the Transformative Project Award at the 21st Annual Coastal Ocean Awards

Excellence in Aquatic Research and Conservation Celebrated at Coastal Ocean Awards

Vancouver, B.C. – Leaders in ocean science and conservation made waves this week at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, as British Columbia’s best and brightest gathered at the sold-out 21st Annual Coastal Ocean Awards.

First created in 1995, the awards program was created as a tribute to the Aquarium’s founding director, Dr. Murray A. Newman. It’s grown since then; the annual dinner now celebrates those at the forefront of marine science, conservation, art, technology, volunteerism, communication, and philanthropy.

“The award recipients illustrate that we’re international leaders in coastal ocean sustainability. We have an incredible amount to celebrate and share,” said Dr. Andrew Day, executive director of the Aquarium’s Coastal Ocean Research Institute. “With oceans everywhere under threat from overfishing, pollution, development, and climate change, and B.C. having one of the richest coastlines in the world, it’s heartening to see that we are leading the world in solutions.”

In total, nine awards were given out on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

  • The North Medal for Contribution to Research and Conservation was awarded to Ross and Trisha Beaty, for their longtime support of environmental initiatives. The family’s Sitka Foundation has contributed over $15 million dollars to environmental work in British Columbia.
  • The Murray A. Newman Award for Significant Achievement in Aquatic Research was awarded to Dr. Colin Brauner of UBC for his ground-breaking contributions to our understanding of how fish work and respond to environmental challenges.
  • The Murray A. Newman Award for Significant Achievement in Aquatic Conservation went to Canada’s Pacific Groundfish Trawl Habitat Agreement, a global precedent negotiated between fishermen and environmental groups to address the impact of bottom trawling on sensitive seafloor habitats. The award was accepted by Dr. Scott Wallace and Brian Mose.
  • The Conservation and Research Communication Award went to the book The Sea Among Us, the first book to present a comprehensive study of the Strait of Georgia – one of the world’s great inland seas. The award was accepted by authors Dr. Richard Beamish and Gordon MacFarlane.
  • The award for Innovative Use of Technology was given to Phil Nuytten, an internationally recognized pioneer in the diving and undersea exploration industry whose famous ‘Newt Suit’ promises to re-shape the future of diving by allowing individuals to explore extreme depths for long periods of time.
  • The Transformative Project Award was granted to The Marine Planning Partnership — a co-led partnership between the Province of B.C. and 18 Coastal Nations — for the development of marine plans for the North Pacific Coast. The award was accepted by Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and by Dallas Smith, President, Nanwakolas Council.
  • The award for Conservation Volunteer went to Catherine Smith, an outstanding and active volunteer observer for the Aquarium’s B.C. Cetacean Sightings Network, a citizen science project that collects sightings of whales, dolphins, porpoises and sea turtles across the coast of B.C.
  • Marina Piscitelli, a PhD student in Zoology at UBC, won the Michael A. Bigg Award for student research. Her research is already making profound contributions to our understanding of breathing in marine mammals and how it is affected by disease and environmental factors.
  • In addition to providing delicious seafood at the event, Chef Ned Bell was recognized with the BC Coastal Artist Award. Bell has been a champion of sustainable seafood for years, including starting Chefs for Oceans and biking across Canada to raise awareness of the importance of purchasing seafood that is sustainably caught. Chef Bell has also advocated for a National Sustainable Seafood Day.

The awards ceremony also featured songs by Haida lawyer and Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards winner Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson.

Coastal Ocean Research Institute

Established to measure and monitor the health of coastal ecosystems, the Coastal Ocean Research Institute produces and communicates scientific knowledge and understanding about Canada’s West Coast. Established by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, the Research Institute is grateful for its generous founding partners the Sitka Foundation and North Growth Foundation.

Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is a non-profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life. www.vanaqua.org.

Press release courtesy of the Vancouver Aquarium.