Marine Protected Areas

Our Nations are committed to protecting culturally and ecologically significant regions through implementing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Central Coast.

Whales breaching in Kitasoo Xai'xais territory, Central Coast.
Photo: Doug Neasloss
Sea urchin in Heiltsuk territory, Central Coast.
Photo: Julie Carpenter

These MPAs will preserve biodiversity and healthy ecosystems for their own sake, but they will also support sustainable fisheries and long-term food security for coastal communities.

Along with 13 other First Nations, the federal and provincial government, Central Coast Nations are co-leading a major planning effort to establish an MPA network across the Northern Shelf Bioregion, which includes the Central Coast. These MPAs will restrict some activities, such as commercial and recreational fishing, aquaculture and forestry, in order to protect invaluable cultural and ecological values.

Collaborative research from CCIRA and other partners, which merged local Indigenous knowledge with a scientific approach, identified important “biological hotspots” throughout the Central Coast. Pinpointing these culturally and ecologically significant areas helped to determine where MPAs should be located to maximize biodiversity conservation.

The MPA Network will benefit the Central Coast in many ways, including:  

  • Preserve marine biodiversity and restore threatened species, such as abalone and eulachon;
  • Reduce the coast-wide impacts from increased vessel traffic and fishing pressures; 
  • Ensure long-term food security for Central Coast communities;
  • Protect culturally important features and First Nations’ harvesting areas; 
  • Enhance local tourism and conservation initiatives; 
  • Support coastal fisheries through migration of species into non-protected areas; and
  • Increase resilience of marine ecosystems in the face of climate change and other changes.