What is the NMCAR Feasibility Assessment?

Coastal scene with fog, eagles and seagulls on the water.

In November 2022, Central Coast Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the governments of Canada and British Columbia to conduct a feasibility assessment for a National Marine Conservation Area Reserve (NMCAR) on the Central Coast. This is a crucial step in continuing to work towards marine protection on our coast.

No commitments have been made to designate an NMCAR, and it is up to each Nation, alongside the BC Government and Parks Canada, to make that decision.

This feasibility assessment is currently underway, in a highly collaborative process, moving beyond consultation only and using UNDRIP principles of upholding our free, prior, and informed consent. At any time, our Nations can decide not to continue with the assessment.

Sea otter floating on its back in the water.

Key Dates in this Process

Between January 2022 and March 2024

  • The feasibility assessment looks at potential implications of an NMCAR on social, environmental, and economic factors, and how it would affect our Nations, commercial interests, and stakeholders. It uses a highly collaborative approach with Parks Canada, the Government of British Columbia, and our Nations.
  • The assessment is managed through a steering committee with one representative from each Central Coast Nation, one representative from the government of British Columbia, and two Parks Canada representatives.
  • Any concerns about the consequences of implementing an NMCAR will be investigated, including those raised by community members during extensive engagement, including open houses, one-to-one conversations, focus groups, and committees. Further information about engagement opportunities will be shared in the coming weeks.

There will be multiple opportunities for you to ask questions and share your perspective during this time.

Step 1: Develop Feasibility Assessment Report

Between October 2023 and June 2024

  • A feasibility assessment report will be developed by Nations’ technical staff and provided to the steering committee for feedback and approval. The report will summarize findings on topics including:
    • Governance, including co-governance with Nations and Canadian and BC governments.
    • Other Sectors, including marine transportation, tourism, and alternative energy.
    • Tenures and Encumbrances including hydrocarbon and mining; forestry.
    • Jurisdictional Considerations such as connection to land-based planning (including Parks) and marine jurisdiction.
    • Fisheries Management including commercial and recreational fishing, fisher providers, and aquaculture.
  • This work includes meeting with hereditary and elected leadership, marine use committees, and more community members to inform the recommendations.

No zoning decisions will be made at the feasibility assessment stage.

Step 2: Our Nations Decide Whether to Move Forward

June 2024 Onwards

  • Once technical work is concluded, the feasibility assessment report will be shared widely, and will be submitted to our leadership for review.
  • Each Nation will individually determine if an NMCAR is viable for them and, if so, we will collectively consider what the boundary of the protected area would be.
  • Our Nations will then decide whether to implement an NMCAR.

If all partners agree to continue, we will begin the next step.
No zoning decisions will be made in this step.

Step 3: NMCAR Establishment Agreement Negotiations

Timing To Be Determined

If we decide to proceed, we will then begin to negotiate with Parks Canada about the management regime of the NMCAR.

  • This process looks to set the ‘rules-of-the-road’ about how management of the NMCAR would work between Central Coast Nations, Parks Canada, and the Province of BC. It would clarify key considerations such as funding, decision-making, management planning processes and the final boundary of the NMCAR.
  • If our Nations agree to the terms negotiated, we would be committing to an NMCAR.
  • This would happen after March 2024, and at a pace our Nations are comfortable with.
  • Our Nations can remove themselves from negotiations at any time.

If our Nations agree to continue, we will begin the next step.
No zoning decisions will be made in this step.

Step 4: Management Plan Development

Timing To Be Determined

  • Discussions about zoning will occur at this stage.
  • A full management plan will be developed in the next five years. We will work with community members and leadership to develop a management plan that applies our knowledge and expertise.
  • Community members will be consulted on where activities happen in our territories.
  • We will also then discuss where our Nations wish to have certain marine activities happen and what areas should have more protection.
Silhouette of a grizzly bear near the coastline.

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