West Coast Aquatic’s formation followed years of work by First Nations, local governments, and interest groups for a greater voice in decision-making. Driven by the need for interim measures to assist in treaty negotiations, a concern for declining resources, and increasing conflicts, West Coast Aquatic had its humble beginnings with community members and leaders coming together to discuss how these issues were affecting their communities. Through increased local support, forums were held at which other community members and groups joined the dialogue.
In 1997, the federal government’s Oceans Act and the provincial government’s BC Fisheries Strategy both identified the need for cooperative management approaches with affected aboriginal organizations, coastal communities, and other people and organizations. This shift in approach was accompanied by numerous calls from the private and public sectors, recommending that the federal and provincial governments engage in co-management arrangements. In 1998, negotiations started with west coast Vancouver Island representatives, and an Agreement in Principal was reached in 2000.
West Coast Aquatic (formally the West Coast Vancouver Island Aquatic Management Board) was formally established in 2001 as a Canadian national pilot program for cooperative aquatic management by Federal, Provincial, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Local governments.
WE – people from all walks of life working together.
SEA – a healthy aquatic ecosystem, including ecology, coastal communities, and businesses.
FUTURE – social and economic activities in harmony with each other and nature, based on knowledge, innovation, technology, partnerships, culture and good governance.
West Coast Aquatic seeks to produce innovative solutions to coastal concerns, and strengthen the understanding and relationships between parties that share a common interest in the health and wealth of aquatic resources, businesses, and communities. West Coast Aquatic is comprised of: a collaborative governance board that brings together governments, key sectors and communities to develop consensus-based outcomes for marine resources on the West Coast of Vancouver Island; a management association that provides technical and administrative support to the activities of the governance board; and a charitable organization that administers stewardship activities.