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.
A Critical Ecosystem
British Columbia’s marine coast is a critical natural corridor where ocean and land are inextricably connected. Cedars, wolves, grizzly and black bears rely on salmon for survival; First Nations rely on these waters for food, jobs and cultural well-being; industries like fishing and tourism depend on healthy, thriving waters.
Indigenous communities in coastal British Columbia have relied on these waters for thousands of years for food, livelihoods and cultural well-being. Nature United works in partnership with communities here to advance Indigenous-led ocean and land use plans in the region.
In coastal British Columbia and across Canada, Indigenous Guardians are the “eyes and ears” of their territories. They use Indigenous knowledge and practices, blended with western science to monitor and steward their traditional lands.
Industries such as forestry, tourism and fishing contribute almost $14 billion to Canada’s economy. More than 72,000 Canadians make their living directly from fishing and fishing-related activities and over 400 million people depend on seafood as a nutritional source of protein and minerals worldwide.
This region is home to an abundance of wildlife—significant wild salmon strongholds, ancient glass sponge reefs found nowhere else on the planet, endangered yelloweye rockfish and recovering sea otter and whale populations.
Seaweeds washed ashore are consumed by scavengers, bugs and birds. Herring eggs laid in the shallows are consumed by coastal wolves and bears. Salmon, returning to their natal streams to spawn, bring the nutrients of the ocean deep into the heart of the rainforest; they feed bears, wolves, and birds, and their remains fertilize the forest.
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.
British Columbia’s coast is home to an abundance of critical habitats and wildlife—significant wild salmon strongholds, ancient glass sponge reefs, species-rich kelp forests, endangered yelloweye rockfish and recovering sea otter and whale population Learn how Nature United is supporting new ocean protections and marine planning.
Advancing the Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP), a first-of-its kind partnership to support collaborative ocean management and decision-making by First Nations and Provincial governments. Learn how MaPP is setting a new precedent for ocean management.
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.
Developing innovative and collaborative solutions to build more adaptive and resilient fisheries in the face of climate change. Learn more about the astonding potential of nature to address our climate crisis.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the Canadian affiliate of the world's largest conservation organization, Nature United's work in the Pacific Ocean fits into a comprehensive global oceans strategy. Our projects supporting Indigenous leadership, sustainable economic development and climate resilience provide models for marine conservation efforts around the world. And we draw on expertise and leadership from our colleagues to bring global perspective to our work in Canada.
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