MPA Network: Where We’re At and What’s Next

A boat doing crab surveys in Wuikinuxv territory.

A Marine Protected Area network for the Central Coast is an essential tool to reduce ecological decline and restore abundance on the coast.

Heiltsuk, Kitasoo Xai’xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations continue to work hard to ensure it can be implemented. Below is a summary of next steps to make that happen.

Planning and Engagement (2022)

  • The draft Network Action Plan and suggested areas for protection will be shared with each Nation for input from mid-August 2022 until early November.
  • Feedback will be sought through meetings with Stewardship committees and fishers, larger community conversations, and discussions with hereditary and elected council leadership.
  • Changes will be made to the draft MPA Network Action Plan based on engagement, and it is then expected to be endorsed by the 17 Central Coast Nations’ decision makers, the government of Canada, and the province of British Columbia in February 2023.

Feasibility Research (2022 – 2023)

  • While engagement is happening, Central Coast Nations, Canada (led by Parks Canada), and the Province of B.C. conduct an in-depth feasibility assessment for a legal tool called a National Marine Conservation Area Reserve that could potentially be used to designate the protection of the MPA Network in our territories. It was identified as appropriate because it allows for the agreement to be amended in the future pending further clarification of our First Nations rights and title in our territories. This work includes building on and collating years of assessments of the marine, ecological, and cultural values of the Central Coast and threats to them, as well as the socio-economic assessments and engagement of stakeholders and the public on Central Coast areas of the draft network of MPAs.
  • This research is overseen by a steering committee with members from each Central Coast Nation and from Parks Canada and the Province of BC.
Photo: Julie Carpenter

Establishment (2023 – 2025)

With an endorsed MPA Network Action Plan in place by February 2023, we will then work to ensure it is implemented through legislation.

Some parts of the MPA Network are already in place as existing Marine Protected Areas such as the Scott Islands Marine National Wildlife Area or the Hecate Strait/Queen Charlotte Sound Glass Sponge Reef MPA.

New areas can become part of an MPA Network through a piece of legislation that would make the region a National Marine Conservation Area Reserve (NMCAR).

Our Nations’ communities will be leading this process throughout, with multiple opportunities for engagement, feedback and sharing information.

Implementation (2025 Onwards)

When the first parts of the MPA Network are implemented, likely in 2025, there will be a range of changes to how we conduct coastal monitoring, protection, and planning on the coast. This includes:

  • Certain areas will be closed to select activities such as commercial fishing, recreational fishing, and marine forestry activities including log dumps and heli-drops into the ocean. The closures are to ensure that the conservation objectives for each protected area are well protected.
  • Our guardians will be trained to undertake monitoring and compliance to ensure the protected areas are free from the activities that are restricted and to carry out monitoring assessment and research to evaluate our progress in meeting our conservation goals.
  • The plans will be assessed likely every 5 years and adapted as necessary to better meet our goals, based on the results of our monitoring program.

For more information, read An MPA Network for the Central Coast: The Process So Far.

Photo: Julie Carpenter

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