Plan Priorities

Governance Arrangements for Implementation

Successful implementation of the plan will depend on maintaining and supporting an ongoing governance arrangement that is flexible enough to address implementation needs as they arise and that can maintain the momentum built throughout the plan’s development. Ongoing implementation of the plan will also be dependent on continued engagement and involvement of diverse stakeholders.

Enduring governance and engagement processes will provide accountability regarding the plan’s implementation; make important connections to ongoing work to which PNCIMA’s EBM framework, information base and associated tools can contribute; and provide a venue for continued integrated management of marine use within PNCIMA.

Marine Protected Area Network Planning

The governments of Canada and British Columbia jointly developed the Canada–British Columbia Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network Strategy. The MPA network strategy is a vital part of a commitment to do more than safeguard communities for future generations. The network’s key purpose is to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem integrity. This in turn will safeguard communities and ensure that future generations will inherit the beauty and productivity of the Pacific Ocean. The Strategy is consistent with and guided by the National Framework for Canada’s Network of Marine Protected Areas.

►Visit the MPA Network Planning website

The Strategy identifies a vision and goals and guiding principles for the design of a network of MPAs in Canada’s Pacific waters, with implementation occurring at the bioregional scale beginning in the Northern Shelf Bioregion (the boundary of which aligns with PNCIMA). A network of MPAs for the Northern Shelf Bioregion will be collaboratively developed among First Nations, federal and provincial governments. Implementation plans will be developed with input from local governments and stakeholders so that the unique ecological, socio-political, economic and cultural characteristics of different regions of coastal British Columbia are respected.

The Strategy states that “First Nations’ support and participation is an essential part of creating an effective MPA network. The special relationship between the Crown and First Nations will be provided for; both governments will respect the continued use of MPAs by First Nations for food, social and ceremonial purposes and other traditional practices, provided that these uses are consistent with the objectives for the MPA. The establishment of any MPA will not affect ongoing or future treaty negotiations or agreements and will seek to address opportunities for First Nations to benefit from MPAs”.

Currently, each planning process in the Northern Shelf Bioregion has its own associated advisory body. Many of these advisory bodies are associated with MPAs, involve similar stakeholders and address similar issues. Terms of engagement are not consistent, however, and despite ongoing work to address duplication of effort between processes, improvements are always possible.

Monitoring and Adaptive Management

The effects of human behaviour on complex ecological and social systems are not easily predicted and create significant uncertainty. Monitoring and research enable management progress in the face of these uncertainties.

Adaptive management is a monitoring and management approach that assists in decision-making related to science-based processes. It is a prescriptive, formalized, systematic method that enables management to learn from the outcomes of implemented management actions. The process involves several interrelated steps:
  • collecting and synthesizing existing knowledge (baseline);
  • identifying and monitoring indicators;
  • evaluating outcomes by using predetermined strategies; and
  • exploring alternative actions through the forecasting of outcomes.

Collectively, these steps create a mechanism for evaluating whether or not the plan is achieving desired goals and objectives.

Indicators are required to monitor the health of the ecosystem or its components. In an EBM context, it is equally important to understand human well-being, which requires indicators for society, economy, culture and governance. The use of a suite of predictive EBM indicators will assist in understanding the underlying processes that drive change. Targets are also needed as reference points that correspond to the state and direction of the indicator, and which can be used to guide management action.

Opportunities exist to build on an extensive body of work that has been conducted or is currently under way in order to provide baseline ecosystem assessments and identify indicators. This work includes State of the Oceans reporting, development of lists of valued ecosystem and socio-economic components, Ecosystem Status and Trends reporting, State of the Environment reporting, monitoring plans for individual MPAs, and marine planning outputs undertaken

Case Study: Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network

Integrated Economic Opportunities

The value of integrated management lies in bringing many different users together to address issues, discuss potential opportunities to collaborate, create efficiencies and build trust in order to foster enduring relationships.

A commitment to ecosystem-based management requires a commitment to achieving healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities.

A key component of this commitment is ensuring that sustainable economic opportunities and diversification among ocean-related businesses support all users.

Tools to Support Plan Implementation

Application of an ecosystem-based approach to management requires a strong foundation in science, including the incorporation of traditional and local knowledge. Planners and scientists have developed a suite of tools to promote a better understanding of ecological and human systems and to implement society’s goals for the marine environment. PNCIMA priority implementation will focus on developing tools for assessing risk and cumulative effects. In addition, tools developed through other planning processes will also help inform the implementation of the strategies.

Risk Assessment Tools

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has developed a pilot ecological risk assessment framework to assess the potential risk to valued ecosystem components from human activities and their associated stressors. This framework may be helpful in beginning to identify management issues that arise from the environmental effects of human activities, and may guide future action in PNCIMA. The framework is intended to help assess the relative risk to ecosystems, and it provides methods for explicitly capturing and reporting uncertainties in data quality, which may guide decision-making for future management strategies and actions.

While a risk assessment framework is an appropriate decision support tool for analyzing risks to valued ecosystem components, it may or may not be appropriate for other social, economic, or cultural components. Feedback throughout the planning process has consistently indicated that understanding and assessment of ecological issues has been well developed for PNCIMA, but equivalent consideration of social, cultural and economic issues and risk tolerance is required to better assess how human well-being is affected by sources of stress on the ecosystem.

Application of the pilot ecological risk assessment framework will aid in identifying areas of uncertainty that require further research or data assessment to be undertaken. Spatial application of the risk assessment framework will provide a starting point for management and regulatory gap analysis to determine whether additional management measures are necessary to address risks to valued ecosystem components. The ecological risk assessment framework will also be a useful tool for comparing various management scenarios that could be proposed based on the results of this work. In addition to the DFO ecological risk assessment framework, other risk assessment tools may help inform the implementation of this plan.

Cumulative Effects Framework

Cumulative effects arising from human use of marine goods and services can result from multiple sectors competing for and using the same finite resources. Historical sector/resource-based decision making, different approaches to assessment and management, and changing marine environments have contributed to cumulative effects on marine ecosystems (Halpern et al. 2008; Crain 2009). This may cause risks to key ecological values in some areas, affect Aboriginal rights, Aboriginal titles and/or treaty rights, and create uncertainty and instability for all users.

The Province of British Columbia is currently developing a cumulative effects framework that will support decision-making that improves the quality and benefits of development by proactively avoiding and/or mitigating potentially adverse cumulative effects on values of primary importance to British Columbians. The framework also aims to improve the transparency, consistency, durability and efficiency of natural resource management decisions. The framework’s guiding principles are to incorporate:
  1. a consistent set of values and intended outcomes for all sectors;
  2. spatial and temporal monitoring of values;
  3. assessment of all proposed resource activities, with rigour scaled to potential risk; and
  4. periodic, broad-scale, forward looking assessments.

The framework will identify economic, environmental, cultural and social values that will serve as the baseline for assessment. At the assessment phase, the Province envisions developing cumulative effects screening tools that are applicable to all proposed projects and authorizations, along with project-level assessments for projects identified as higher risk, and broad scale assessments to assist with defining objectives and management targets for a larger area. A number of land-based demonstration projects are anticipated, and there is interest in expanding demonstration projects to the marine area within the PNCIMA boundary through other planning processes (e.g., MaPP).