British Columbia'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 British Columbia's marine waters less than 1000 meters deep, and protect approximately 14.3% of the province's shoreline areas.
The Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB) is the lead provincial agency with respect to MPA establishment and works closely with other provincial (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, Ministry of Energy and Mines) and federal (Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, Parks Canada) agencies on MPA related issues.
MSRM 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 multi-disciplinary literature review along with discussions with experts in marine sciences, recreation and cultural-heritage resources. Examples of the various types of VMEFs include:
British Columbia 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.
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