Stakeholders in the process to establish a Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA), will decide at the end of next month if they should bother to continue participating in the planning after the federal government unilaterally decided to “streamline” it by largely cutting them out of the conversation.
The government wants to make the process less dependent on consensus-building in order to have a completed plan by the end of 2012. This has caused stakeholders such as the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District to call the new process “PNCIMA-light.” They say that unless the government can reassure them that they will still have any meaningful input, they won’t bother continuing to participate.
“The reason they gave was that they felt it was expedient to move things along and that the collaborative governance process that we originally entered into was not going to allow for that strict time line. So they basically moved everything inside the Department [of Fisheries and Oceans], and they’ll be doing most of the work in there,” says Des Nobles who represents the regional district for PNCIMA.
The stakeholders are representatives from communities, the commercial fisheries, conservation groups, the non-renewable energy industry, recreation industry and tourism industry that would be affected by the establishment of such a plan make up a body called the Integrated Oceans Advisory Committee (IOAC).
The IOAC had been working on the PNCIMA process for the past 15 months and despite some conflicting interests, the members say that they have been working with the goal of finding a consensus between them, a long and complicated process. Then last month the Federal Government withdrew from a funding agreement that would have contributed millions of dollars to the process from an Environmental groups, Tides Canada.
The IOAC sent a letter to the PNCIMA steering committee saying that they feel that if the government forgoes the need for collaboration and consensus for the sake of saving time, the whole process will lose its integrity. In the letter they gave a list of information they require before making a decision. Among other things, they want a justification for why the plan must be completed by December 2012, a strategy for maintaining stakeholder engagement, a new budgeting strategy and a commitment to consensus-based governance.
Nobles says that the IOAC members are ready to hear the government out at a meeting scheduled at the end of November