Banner Photo Credit: A view over Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound (Credit: Amanda Weltman)


In 2017, the OWHS report noted a distinct lack of comprehensive, region-wide planning to manage growth and development, while protecting the environment. Today, many steps have been taken to bring this vision closer to fruition.

Local governments have committed to support and develop the Atl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound Marine Reference Guide (MRG), as recommended in the OWHS 2017 Action Plan. The MRG team is creating an online interactive map that displays spatial data associated with the Sound’s marine environment and watersheds to support decision making, marine social planning and community education.

The Ocean Watch Task Force (OWTF), formed by the Howe Sound Community Forum (HSCF) and comprised of locally elected government representatives, planning staff, NGOs and First Nations, worked to advance relevant actions proposed in the OWHS 2017. The OWTF advanced the development of the MRG and, with support from Ocean Wise, created the Strategic Plan to guide local government protection of the Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound region over the next three years (2019–2021). In addition, efforts continue towards the goal of having Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound designated as a UNESCO biosphere region.

Within the Sound, there has been an expansion of protected areas. In 2019, eight new marine refuge areas were created to protect nine glass sponge reefs placed under voluntary protection in 2017, bringing the total number of protected glass sponge reefs in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound to 11. The English Bay/Burrard Inlet Important Bird Area (IBA) was expanded into the southern part of Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. However, IBAs do not offer any legal protection. Further support and collaboration are still needed to continue this momentum and support the communities in the Sound in the face of climate change.

Ocean Watch Rating Legend

Ratings are meant to provide the reader with a visual snapshot summary about the subject.  Subject ratings were assigned 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.

Stewardship Ratings

Article & 2020 Rating Rationale

2017 Rating

2020 Rating

Marine Protected Areas

Positive actions have been taken, with the creation of new marine refugia to protect glass sponge reefs and the expansion of the important bird area (IBA). However, the IBA offers no legal protection.

Comprehensive Planning

Recent accomplishments suggest positive improvements, but a need for continued collaboration and communication is essential.

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