Almost 28 per cent of the Economy of the Regional District of Mount Waddington is dependent upon a healthy ocean, according to new research commissioned jointly by Living Oceans Society and the Regional District of Mount Waddington. The study undertaken by GS Gislason and Associates Ltd. uses data from 2009 and interviews with local residents to measure both the direct contribution of marine industries to local communities and where in the regional waters these activities occur. This unusual approach allows for a deeper understanding of the importance of the ocean environment to the well being of Mount Waddington residents.
“By demonstrating a linkage between the economic livelihoods of people, businesses and communities to a healthy ocean, we can better prepare for planning processes such as the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PINCIMA) process and push for fairer levels of rural employment that better reflect the contribution of our marine resources to the BC economy,” said Neil Smith from the Regional District of Mount Waddington.
This study shows that the ocean is integral not just to the economy, but also to the culture, way of life, and collective identity of the region. The ocean environment provides significant benefits to First Nations through seafood harvesting activities as well as key ecosystem services that underpin many of the identified industries and make coastal life as we know it possible.
“Because seafood and marine recreation are so dependent upon healthy marine ecosystems, this really brings home the importance of planning for our coast,” said Jennifer Lash of Living Oceans Society. “Economic development initiatives in this region must reflect the need to safeguard these ocean resources for the social and economic benefit of future generations.”
Both parties had agreed to leave interpretation of the study’s findings until the work was complete.
“The Regional District’s interpretation of this research will likely be rather different from that of the somewhat narrower focus of industrial and other lobbying interests,” said Smith. “A ‘North Island First’ outlook is required to make this study something useful to our rural communities.”