The development of marine protected areas in the North Island is something that will affect us so we need to be at the table, says Area ‘B’ Director Phil Wainwright.
A marine protected area is a clearly-defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated, and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.
In 2010, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity set a global target that “by 2020, at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably-managed, ecologically representative and well-connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscape and seascapes”.
Canada currently protects one per cent of its oceans and Great Lakes, well below most other countries’ protection levels.
“I think BC in particular is starting out the right way,” Wainwright said. In 2011, the Marine Planning Partnership was established which is co-led by First Nations and the Province of BC. The aim is to develop comprehensive marine plans that will ensure that oceans are used sustainably and establish the basis for a coast-wide network of marine protected areas.
“It’s critical for our communities to be to be involved in this,” said Wainwright.
“It concerns me, because every time we set something aside, it affects us. We need to be at the meetings so that we know what the impacts are going to be. Those questions need to be answered,” he said. “We need to take a proactive stand.”
The positive side to protected areas, said Wainwright, is that they enhance fish stocks.