Banner Photo Credit: Dale Simonson (Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Stewardship and Governance

After decades of centralized, top-down governance, Canada is in the midst of a paradigm shift in its approach to environmental stewardship and conservation. New collaborative decision-making structures are now stemming from the bottom up, and recognizing the historical role Indigenous people have played in protecting and managing land, water, and resources.

Several co-governance agreements are now in the works between the federal and provincial governments and First Nations, drawing upon their expertise as environmental stewards. Through these partnerships, B.C. is poised to revolutionize how it handles marine conservation with the aim of establishing a jointly governed network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Northern Shelf bioregion. The agreement could see the first Indigenous-governed MPAs emerge on our coast, putting the future of marine ecosystems in the hands of those who are most invested in their health.

At the same time, the federal government continues to work toward its goal of protecting 10 percent of Canada’s coastline by 2020. Several new areas for marine conservation have recently been established or proposed, including vital habitat for fragile and rare glass sponges, globally distinct seabirds, and hydrothermal vents. Despite this progress, however, MPAs still exist in a complicated web of competing objectives and jurisdiction, underscoring the need for cohesive oversight to ensure protected areas truly ensure aquatic ecosystems are preserved for generations to come.

Ocean Watch Rating Legend

Ratings are meant to provide the reader with a visual snapshot summary about the subject.  Subject ratings were assigned by the Coastal Ocean Research Institute based on application of the criteria to the information in each article.

1) The status is healthy according to available data, 2) the trend is positive if known, 3) some data are available, and/or 4) actions to address or mitigate are well underway and are known to be effective. Actions should be taken to maintain positive status and/or trend.

Status, trend, data, and/or actions provide contradictory or inconclusive information. Actions are needed to move into positive status and trend and avoid negative status and trend.

1) Impacts or issues are high risk or have resulted in a low or vulnerable status, 2) improvements are uncertain, minor, or slow, and/or 3) actions to address or mitigate are non-existent, vague, or have low effectiveness. Actions are needed to move into positive status and trend.

Not rated due to the nature of the article, or there are not enough data to produce an assessment.

Snapshot Assessment

Stewardship and Governance

Marine Protected Areas

Several new marine refuges and marine protected areas in British Columbia have been established or proposed as part of Canada’s goal to conserve 10 percent of its coast by 2020. However, comprehensive oversight is still needed to ensure various marine protection areas function as a cohesive network.

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Evolution in Governance

Once strictly top-down, a more collaborative approach to conservation is beginning to emerge in B.C.’s coastal regions. Indigenous peoples are increasingly being recognized for their role in stewardship and the governance of conservation efforts on land and sea.

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