MaPP: environmental sustainability of the North Pacific Coast 

Photo: 2021 BC Reconciliation Award recipient, Marine Plan Partnership

The North Pacific Coast covers more than 100,000 km2  of British Columbia’s coastline, extending from northern Vancouver Island to Canada’s border with Alaska, from shore to the continental slope. The sheer scale of this coastal region is reflected in the ambitious nature of the Marine Plan Partnership, known as MaPP, a collaborative initiative between eighteen First Nations and the Province of British Columbia.  

Established in 2011, MaPP aims to develop marine spatial plans that support both environmental sustainability and economic prosperity in the region. MaPP respects Indigenous rights and title, recognizing Indigenous peoples as stewards of the land and sea. Indigenous-led marine planning ensures that environmental sustainability is rooted in Indigenous perspectives and practices, contributing to the holistic management of marine resources. Their endeavors resulted in them receiving the 2021 BC Reconciliation Award.  

At its core, MaPP recognizes the critical importance of environmental sustainability in managing the coastal and marine resources of the North Pacific Coast. The region is rich in biodiversity, supporting diverse ecosystems ranging from temperate rainforests to productive marine habitats. However, it also faces significant pressures from human activities such as shipping, fishing, tourism, and resource extraction. 

One of the primary objectives of MaPP is to identify and designate areas for ecosystem protection and conservation. Through extensive consultation with Indigenous Nations, stakeholders, and scientific experts, MaPP develops marine spatial plans that establish marine protected areas (MPAs) and other conservation measures to safeguard sensitive habitats and species. 

MaPP seeks to promote the sustainable use of marine resources, including fisheries, aquaculture, and marine transportation. By establishing zones for different activities based on ecological considerations and community priorities, MaPP aims to minimize conflicts between resource users while ensuring the long-term health and productivity of marine ecosystems. 

In light of the growing impacts of climate change on coastal and marine environments, MaPP integrates considerations of climate resilience into its planning processes. This includes identifying areas of ecological significance, enhancing ecosystem resilience to climate stressors, and mitigating the impacts of sea-level rise and ocean acidification. 

MaPP’s collaborative and adaptive approach to marine planning prioritizes environmental sustainability while supporting the social, cultural, and economic well-being of coastal communities. By integrating Indigenous knowledge, scientific expertise, and stakeholder engagement, MaPP strives to achieve a balance between conservation and development, ensuring that the North Pacific Coast remains healthy and resilient for generations to come. 

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