Prince Rupert’s Bruce Watkinson

Prince Rupert’s Bruce Watkinson

Marine activity growth leads to protection plan

A new North Coast oceans protection plan has earned the endorsement of the North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society.

A new North Coast oceans protection and management plan has earned the endorsement of the province, Coastal First Nations and the North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society.

The Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) Plan, a planning and strategic ocean management plan that promotes marine ecosystem health in the Pacific Ocean’s northern shelf bioregion.

Last week in Vancouver, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Dominic LeBlanc, West Vancouver Sea-to-Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy, president of Coastal First Nations Chief Marilyn Slett and Prince Rupert’s Bruce Watkinson, Gitxaala Nation Fisheries Director, officially endorsed the PNCIMA plan.

Watkinson appeared on behalf of Robert Grodecki, executive director of the North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society, and Sturdy represented B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson for the agreement.

“Building on the endorsement of the PNCIMA plan, our member First Nations expect to continue direct, robust engagement with the federal and provincial governments on initiatives such as marine protected area planning and the Oceans Protection Plan,” Grodecki said in a news release.

“Marine activities, including shipping and port activities have significantly increased within Tsimshian territory in the North Coast. Our Nations have a unique and inalienable connection to the region’s marine environment and therefore seek to use the nation-to-nation relationship of this agreement to ensure that connection remains for generations to come.”

The plan will inform strategic processes on the North Coast concerning marine activity management and resource planning.

The PNCIMA partners include Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Parks Canada, Transport Canada, the Province of B.C., Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative, the North Coast Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society and the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

The PNCIMA plan is intended to support the federal government’s commitment to protect five per cent of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by the end of this year and 10 per cent by 2020.

“By signing on to this PNCIMA plan, our government is demonstrating our ongoing commitment to working with the provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples and stakeholders to better manage co-manage our ocean resources.”

“We look forward to the implementation of the plan and the impact it will have in creating a healthy, safe and prosperous ocean area,” LeBlanc said.