Coastal Initiatives

BC's first marine waters were protected in 1911 as part of Strathcona Provincial Park. Rebecca Spit Provincial Park (1957) was the province's first park established for marine values. Since that time, over 100 other protected areas have been designated that include subtidal lands. These Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) comprise about 4.2% of BC's marine waters less than 1000 m deep, and protect approximately 14.3% of the province's shoreline areas.

Corporate Information Services is the lead provincial agency with respect to MPA establishment and works closely with other province (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, BC Parks, Ministry of Energy and Mines) and federal (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, Parks Canada) on MPA related issues.

Corporate Information Services has developed a number of planning products to advance efforts to establish new MPAs and provide information for enhanced management planning of existing MPAs. These planning products include the development of the BC Marine Ecological Classification (BCMEC) and the identification of Valued Marine Environmental Features (VMEFs), which are key features of marine environments valued for their conservation (i.e. natural environment), recreational and cultural-heritage characteristics. Identification of VMEFs was based on a detailed and multidisciplinary literature review along with discussions with experts in marine sciences, recreation and cultural-heritage resources. Examples of the various types of
VMEFs include:

  • Kelp beds - conservation VMEF
  • Abandoned canneries - recreation VMEF
  • Archaeological sites - cultural / heritage VMEF

BC has also been working on developing a MPA GAP analysis to identify representative and distinctive potential candidate areas for conservation. This work is based on the BCMEC, the VMEF work, and the identification of biophysical and human use values within existing MPAs. This work is also being used to identify existing provincial protected areas which may benefit from fisheries closures using federal legislation.