Province seeks feedback on first coastal marine strategy

A feedback period for an in-development coastal marine strategy for B.C. is open until April 14.

The provincial government is seeking public feedback on the first step of the strategy’s development, an intentions paper that was produced with input from some coastal First Nations, according to the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship and Fisheries.

Currently the province does not have a comprehensive strategy to guide coastal management, which it says creates challenges to coordinate between local, provincial, federal and Indigenous governments. The strategy will concentrate on activities, uses and values under provincial jurisdiction.

The B.C. government oversees sectors like seafood and is responsible for managing and authorizing activities and uses that require access to structures fixed or over the seabed, such as aquaculture, docks, clean energy, marinas and underwater utilities. It also handles tourism operator licensing, land use planning for marine parks and protected areas, climate change mitigation and adaptation (including ocean acidification and sea level rise) and environmental assessments for large projects. B.C.’s ocean economy represents about 8 per cent, or $21 billion of annual provincial GDP, with tourism and recreation, transportation, coastal forestry and seafood sectors accounting for over 80 per cent.

The plan will span 20 years and focus on the 26,000 km of coastal waters from the Alaskan border south to the Washington State border and will be co-developed with First Nations. The province will also be seeking input from marine stakeholders, environmental organizations and local government representatives. Islands Trust staff said the executive committee will review engagement opportunities once staff receive more details from the province.

A second engagement period will follow once the draft coastal marine strategy is published in late 2023. The public questionnaire is available at www.engage.gov.bc.ca/coastalmarinestrategy.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder