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Collaborative process kicks off to establish Central Coast National Marine Conservation Area Reserve

Friday, August 13, 2021

xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) & səl̓ilwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Territories/VANCOUVER – West Coast Environmental Law congratulates the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai'xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations, Parks Canada and the BC provincial government for collaborating on an important step taken today toward establishing a National Marine Conservation Area Reserve (NMCA Reserve) off the Central Coast of British Columbia.

The Central Coast is a culturally and ecologically rich area that has been stewarded by Indigenous nations for millennia. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed today signifies a commitment by the partner governments to conduct a feasibility study on an area of 14,200 km2 with the intention of creating an NMCA Reserve to protect and manage the area.

“In light of the significant challenges currently facing coastal ecosystems, this is a welcome step in permanently protecting an area of such cultural and ecological importance, and recognizing and supporting Indigenous stewardship and co-management in the region,” said West Coast Staff Lawyer Michael Bissonnette.

NMCA Reserves are established and managed to protect and conserve representative marine areas for the benefit of present and future generations, and to ensure sustainable use of marine resources within them. The announcement of the initiative to develop an NMCA Reserve comes on the heels of a revised Coastal First Nations Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreement released this month, which sees Central Coast nations co-managing fisheries on the Central Coast with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Today’s announcement is also a step forward in the process of building a network of marine protected areas in the Great Bear Sea (also known as the Northern Shelf Bioregion), which is currently being undertaken in a partnership between 17 Indigenous nations, and the federal and provincial governments. The proposed MPA network would span from northern Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border.

“The Central Coast is an important piece in the MPA network,” said Staff Lawyer Erin Gray. “Initiating a strong, Indigenous-led, co-managed process now bodes well for the future of the network, which could have a multitude of biodiversity, climate-related and social benefits.”

West Coast Environmental Law looks forward to supporting the development of the Central Coast NMCA Reserve, as well as the broader MPA network, as the process moves forward.

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For more information, please contact:

Erin Gray | Staff Lawyer
604-684-7378 ext. 234, egray@wcel.org