a whale breaching in front of an island off the coast of british columbia
Humpback Whale Young humpback whale slaps its tail near Klemtu, BC, Canada. © Jason Houston

A Bold, Collaborative Approach for a Healthy Ocean

When our work began in the Great Bear Rainforest more than a decade ago, we knew then that our work in this vibrant ecosystem was only just beginning. Today we’re building on our legacy of conservation in coastal British Columbia by advancing strategies for a healthy ocean.

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Our Work in the Pacific Ocean

Today, more people rely on our oceans for food, energy, transport, recreation and other natural resources than any other time in history. These increasing demands, coupled with a changing climate, are impacting ocean health by altering vital habitat, depleting fish stocks and polluting seas. 

Without action, the health of BC’s unique and critical ecosystems are at risk.

Nature United is tackling these challenges with a bold, collaborative approach to ocean management that delivers lasting results for people, nature and economies. 

  • MaPP plans include strategies to expand shellfish aquaculture.

    Sustainable Local Fisheries

    Helping build community-driven fisheries and business plans that will create new jobs, build local harvest capacity, maintain sustainable seafood supplies and strengthen coastal stewardship.

The Great Bear Sea encompasses nearly two-thirds of the British Columbia coast. One of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth, the Great Bear Sea provides habitat for an incredible array of species. The region is home to 27 different First Nations spread across 32 distinct communities who have stewarded these lands and waters since time immemorial. 

Great Bear Sea
Great Bear Sea Sea stars and kelp in the ocean off Hurst Island, BC. © Jon McCormack
Great Bear Sea
Great Bear Sea A pink octopus clings to a yellow sea sponge in the Great Bear Sea off the coast of British Columbia. © Jon McCormack
Great Bear Sea Sea stars and kelp in the ocean off Hurst Island, BC. © Jon McCormack
Great Bear Sea A pink octopus clings to a yellow sea sponge in the Great Bear Sea off the coast of British Columbia. © Jon McCormack

Nature United supports the creation of the world's first Indigenous-led Marine Protected Area Network in the Great Bear Sea.

The proposed MPA network contains approximately 16,500km² of new protected areas—which will roughly double the protected areas in this region. It is being co-designed by 18 First Nations and the Federal and Provincial governments. Nature United has provided technical capacity to help design the network. We have also forged connections across sectors and governance partners to find opportunities for collaboration.

We are committed to ensuring strong Indigenous governance models underpin agreements that protect and sustainably manage natural resources.

Great Bear Sea We work closely with the Coastal First Nations who commissioned this short film to tell the story of their work with governments and stakeholders to help secure the health of the Great Bear Sea.

The Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP) for the Great Bear Sea is another example of a strong Indigenous governance model.

Established in 2011, MaPP is a unique partnership between 17 Indigenous First Nations governments and the British Columbia government that provides a "blueprint" for ocean use and sustainable economic development.

A Groundbreaking Partnership

MaPP is the first ocean plan jointly led by Indigenous peoples and a state government.

Learn More

Integrating healthy ecosystems, economies and people, MaPP is being used as a model locally, nationally and internationally.

At the invitation of First Nations and BC government partners, Nature United has played a key role in supporting MaPP’s implementation by providing core funding, technical expertise, and communications support.


Fisheries are a key human use of the ocean; they provide a sustainable source of food and jobs, economic benefits, and cultural connections that are critical to well-being in coastal communities. They are also a key pressure on marine ecosystems when there is overharvesting, high bycatch, lost gear, or habitat damage.

Nature United is working to protect habitats from fishing impacts. We also work alongside industry and government partners to improve fisheries management, operations, markets and policies.

Fisheries Investment Initiative

Global scientific literature and generations of Indigenous knowledge show us that fisheries with community-owned-operated fisheries are healthier and more sustainable. Having a connection to place and a sense of stewardship often leads to more responsible fishing; and local knowledge improves operations and management.

Through our Fisheries Investment Initiative, we are working to increase First Nations ownership of fisheries. 

Climate Ready Fisheries

Around the world, changing ocean ecosystems are altering the distribution and abundance of fish populations, introducing unprecedented uncertainty. One study predicts that 87 out of 89 staple BC fisheries will decline in abundance by 2050.

Nature United is working to advance climate-ready policies that consider climate dynamics and environmental uncertainty in decisions about harvest levels and fisheries management. We're doing this by:

  • Filling gaps in data about changing fisheries to support more adaptive and responsive decision-making;
  • Creating opportunities to test adaptation strategies on-the-water; and
  • Leveraging collaborations between public agencies and private sectors.


  • Harvester perceptions of Climate Change vulnerability in Canada's Pacific fisheries

    Fishing for Solutions

  • A briefing summarizing the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries webinar on July 12, 2021.

    Climate Resilience, Lessons from Abroad

    Case studies from around the world on pioneering efforts to build climate resilience into fisheries and coastal communities, including one from Nature United on BC.

  • for Valuing Coastal Guardian Watchmen Programs

    Valuing Coastal Guardian Watchmen

    A business case for Indigenous Guardian programs prepared by EPI EcoPlan International, Inc. for Nature United and The Coastal Steward Network.

  • An infographic describing Nature United's marine program

    Marine Program

    A visual overview of Nature United's marine program.

  • An innovative collaboration between 17 First Nations and the Province of BC for ocean protection.

    Celebrate Coastal Conservation

    An overview of the Marine Plan Partnership.

British Columbia's 21-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth.
Humpback Whale British Columbia's 21-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth. © Jon McCormack