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Seafood group opposes plan for northern Pacific marine protected areas

‘The new marine protected areas will result in $125 million of lost revenue’: BC Seafood Alliance
A fishing vessel unloads near the ferry terminal in Prince Rupert on June 25, 2021. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

The government’s proposed plans to develop marine protected areas from the tip of Vancouver Island to the Alaskan border are the opposite of what commercial fisheries recommended, the British Columbia Seafood Alliance (BCSA) stated in a press release, on Feb. 6.

The BC Ministry of Agriculture estimated that the process to create the new marine protected areas will result in $125 million of lost revenue annually in the commercial fishing industry and a loss of 100 million high protein meals, the BCSA wrote.

The federal and provincial governments, along with 15 First Nations, announced their endorsement of an action plan for the northern Pacific marine protected areas on Feb. 5. They included a blueprint for the action plan, which outlines possible tools that can be used, goals and timelines for the protection of future sites.

Yet, despite endorsement by these governing bodies, Christina Burridge, executive director at BCSA, would have liked to see the governments work with the commercial fishing industry to create plans that work for everyone. She said they have proven it is possible before.

“In the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area on Haida Gwaii, we worked with the Council of the Haida Nation, Parks Canada, and other industry partners to set a model for marine zoning that works for all stakeholders,” she said.

“Today’s announcement by the Government of Canada flies in the face of commercial fishery advice provided by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous fish harvesters that would have met or exceeded government conservation objectives while reducing the impacts to commercial fisheries and food security,” Burridge stated.