Current Projects

Marine Planning

A new way of managing the oceans

Marine pollution, poor management of some fisheries, habitat loss; increased ocean use, possible offshore oil and gas development, wind farms and marine tourism all put added pressure on the ocean. The existing approach to managing our ocean is fragmented and often discussions are focused on a single use or issue. In Canada one part of our federal government focuses only on regulating fisheries while several others independently sets up marine protected areas. Another federal department grants offshore oil and gas exploration rights while another regulates shipping.

An integrated approach to ocean management brings together all uses and all planning at one discussion table. DFO wants PNCIMA to be an integrated planning process with the goal of constructing an overall marine use plan acceptable to all users. It would set out the ground rules for future access to and use of ocean resources on the North and Central Coast. It must include input from commercial fishermen, industrial and recreational ocean users, First Nations and coastal communities.

Integrated marine planning is based on something called marine spatial planning. This usually takes the form of a marine plan that includes some form of ocean zoning to ensure that ocean uses are not in conflict and that ocean resources are protected. There are usually recommendations for policies and regulations to make the plan work.

Most marine planning around the world includes a public engagement process. There are some basic principles that most marine planning processes follow:
• There is a balance between ecological, economic and social goals.
• The discussion integrates all sectors and levels of government.
• Marine planning takes into account local cultures and conditions.
• The plan is adaptive over time based on new information and experience.
• Planning takes a high-level view and focuses on the long-term.
• Affected communities and all stakeholders are actively involved in the process.

Integrated marine planning requires that decisions about ocean activities consider the whole ecosystem, not just one specific fishery or marine resource. This means taking into account the cumulative ecological implication of all activities, not just the impact of a single species or activity.

This holistic ecological approach is called Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM). This brings together scientists, managers, ocean users, and impacted communities to set objectives for various aspects of marine ecosystems such as the productivity, key species, and habitat sensitivities needed to ensure a healthy ecosystem.


The Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) planning process is being led by the Government of Canada in partnership with the Province of BC.


The Joint Marine Planning Partnership for the Pacific North Coast is being led by the Province of British Columbia, the Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative, the North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society and the Nanwakolas Council.


Marine Protected Areas: "Pacific Canada is one of the most diverse and productive marine environments in the world ‐ we rely on it in many ways, as a source of food, employment, recreation and spiritual renewal. We want to build on and protect this richness for present and future generations." CDN-BC MPA Network Strategy

West Coast Aquatic

An integrated ecosystem-based resource management program