West Coast Aquatic has been working with local businesses, groups and communities to develop plans and tools that will help balance the many uses of the coastal environment and ensure a healthy economy, culture and environment. Through what’s known as marine spatial planning, West Coast Aquatic is focused on matching the right activities to the right locations while at the same time looking at the bigger picture.
West Coast Aquatic’s approach to marine spatial planning is innovative. Normally, plans are developed by a single government agency for one resource or activity. Instead, a regional plan is being developed by incorporating multiple sectors, activities and levels of government. In this way, West Coast Aquatic is taking an integrated or whole ecosystem approach.
To develop the plans, West Coast Aquatic and their partners have been working around the region to gather information about the local environments and natural resources, economies, social systems and different uses and activities in the region. Through interviews, meetings, online surveys and public events, West Coast Aquatic has gathered a significant amount of information from many different communities, groups and individuals.
One of the core principals of West Coast Aquatic and of this project is that people who live and work in the area should have the opportunity to shape the region’s future, so a local knowledge and perspective has been the focus.
After several years of hard work, the West Coast Aquatic Governance Board is pleased to present draft marine plans for Barkley and Clayoquot Sounds. The plans use planning units to describe the characteristics and potential of different areas. These smaller and more manageable units are based on existing administrative boundaries, biophysical characteristics and use and activities within each sound. The planning units are like a blueprint for rooms within a home.
Within each planning unit there is a description of its characteristics, its suitability for various uses and activities and its vulnerability to a variety of stressors. Recommendations for each planning unit have been driven by a number of things including an assessment of the area’s ecology, any conflicts between uses, emerging economic opportunities and extensive public input on values and trade-offs.
With the numerous different uses and interests within each Sound, the possible number of scenarios for the plan were immense, so West Coast Aquatic partnered with researchers at Stanford University to help inform decision making by evaluating the different options. Using a tool called Marine InVEST, different scenarios for development within an area were looked at and the potential trade-offs were identified. The intent is to achieve a much greater sense of how the region’s economies can develop and grow without sacrificing the environment, recreation or culture.
The draft plans are now available for sector review (see below).
Once ready for implementation, West Coast Aquatic will work closely with all levels of government, business, and communities because everyone has a role to play in developing and maintaining the health and wealth of our coastal resources and communities. Implementation will involve everything from pursuing new technologies, building business partnerships, marketing, passing zoning regulations, making policy recommendations, research, public education and fundraising.
Click here to review a Technical Framework for Marine Planning that guides our approach to marine spatial planning.