Draft Marine Plan Public comment period closes July 11

The Marine Planning Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP) recently hosted two open houses in the Central Coast region.

The Marine Planning Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP) recently hosted two open houses in the Central Coast region regarding the Central Coast Draft Marine Plan.  The Central Coast marine plan is one of four sub-regional marine plans for the North Pacific Coast of BC. It is being developed by the province of BC in partnership with the Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai Xais, and Wuikinuxv Fist Nations with support from a multi-stakeholder Marine Plan Advisory Committee (MPAC).

Over 35 people attended the Hagensborg open house on June 16th, and 14 people attended the Shearwater open house on June 18th. In addition to the MaPP open houses in Bella Coola and Shearwater, the First Nations are each holding their own internal consultation processes.

The purpose of each open house was to give an overview of the draft plan and the planning process, as well as to encourage and solicit feedback regarding the content of both the spatial plan (maps) and aspatial plan (management direction). Both MaPP and the Central Coast Regional District would like to encourage the public to continue to provide comments and feedback on the plan until the close of the public comment period on July 11th, 2014.  The draft plan and a summary of the plan can be found here: http://mappocean.org/central-coast/draft-plan-for-input/

Feedback received at the open houses was varied, and included questions regarding funding for the management and implementation of the plan; clarification about what the plan means for the average person using the Central Coast region for fishing, tourism, or recreation; concern that the plan will create more barriers for people wanting to move to the area to set up a business or industry; and curiosity about the level of federal support that exists for the plan. MaPP will be attending the CCRD board meeting on July 10th in order to discuss the Central Coast draft Marine Plan. Representatives will focus on explaining how the draft plan supports the local environment and communities, and how the plan will be approved, implemented and monitored. Updates on changes to the plan that result from public comment will be published in a future article in this paper.

The overall vision of the plan is to improve the health of the marine environment and the well-being of the people and communities that depend on it. Key issues, concerns, and opportunities addressed by the plan are: ocean health, economic development, climate change, cultural and archaeological resources, fisheries health, and marine fisheries economy benefits.

The plan will provide guidelines for provincial marine tenures; community, social and economic programs related to marine and ocean interests; and pollution prevention. It recommends many areas to be included in a network of Protection Management Zones (PMZs) designed to protect ecological values such as critical marine habitat and specific species, and cultural and traditional values for coastal First Nations. The plan also recommends several Special Management Zones (SMZs) that would be managed for the specific uses of tourism, renewable energy, or aquaculture.

The Marine Planning Partnership is a collaborative multi-year planning process between the BC Provincial Government and 18 First Nations that have traditional territories on the northern coast of BC. For the Central Coast subregion, marine planning coordinators for each Nation are: Wilf Dawson (Nuxalk Nation); Julie Carpenter (Heiltsuk Nation); Danielle Shaw (Wuikinuxv Nation); Doug Neasloss (Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nation).  Local Marine Plan Advisory Committee (MPAC) representatives include: Diana Chan (Conservation); Gary Wilson (Shellfish Aquaculture); Hans Granander (Forestry); Brian Lande (Local Government); Alison Sayers (Local Government); Janice Kyle (Public Recreation).

For further information and to submit feedback on the draft plan, go to: http://mappocean.org/ This website provides an overview of the MaPP partnership governance structure, the planning process, and the stakeholders and planners involved, and describes the organizational structure of MaPP. The draft spatial plan can be viewed on the marine planning portal, which can be accessed through the MaPP website. Go to http://mappocean.org/ and choose the “Science and Planning Tools” option on the side menu of the screen.