Banner Photo: Sunset in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. (Credit: Rich Duncan)
Moving forward, momentum and collaboration between individuals, community groups, NGOs, local governments and First Nations needs to increase. Further actions are required to continue working towards a healthy Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound marine environment. The list below highlights new and outstanding issues, which are addressed by the new Action Plan.
1. The species, habitats and ecosystems in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound interact in complex ways that we do not yet fully understand. Continued research efforts are needed to further our understanding of these complex biological relationships so that recommended actions do not accidentally have unintended negative consequences.
2. Pressure from population growth, tourism, and development (both land-based building and future increases in vessel traffic) are all impacting the marine environment. Increased collaborative efforts to protect and restore species and habitats is essential.
3. Education and engagement around some of the key issues facing the environment today, in particular climate change, is needed to encourage the necessary behaviour changes and coordinated stewardship efforts.
4. Legal protection is lacking for some protected areas, e.g., Important Bird Areas. Additionally, enforcement of regulations, such as fishing restrictions within glass sponge reef marine refugia, is difficult at best due to a lack of resources at various government levels.
5. Although many initiatives have good funding at present, securing continuity in funding can be difficult, meaning some initiatives must be put aside.
6. A lack of baseline data to monitor trends in species, habitats and ecosystems continues to be an issue, e.g., wild salmon, plankton, forage fish. Equally, monitoring data to evaluate whether protection and restoration efforts are having the desired outcome either do not exist, are not readily available or are held by different groups.
7. Climate change is impacting every aspect of the environment in Átl’ḵa7tsem/Txwnéwu7ts/Howe Sound. Coordinated, community-wide actions are needed to decrease greenhouse gas emissions.