Dec. 5, 2023
VANCOUVER – The B.C. government is protecting vital coastal ecosystems, creating new jobs and advancing sustainable fisheries and economic opportunities in the Northern Shelf Bioregion (also known as the Great Bear Sea) in partnership with First Nations, the federal government and donors.
“People in British Columbia share a deep connection to our coastal waters,” said Premier David Eby. “They are a source of beauty, food and economic opportunities. Through sustainable conservation financing, we will help secure the future of our marine ecosystems, fisheries and coastal communities.”
The Province will support this Initiative with a $60-million grant administered by the Coast Conservation Endowment Fund Foundation (Coast Funds). This is expected to leverage more than $200 million in additional investment in the region, through the development of a Project Finance for Permanence initiative (PFP) in partnership with First Nations, the federal government and others.
The Great Bear Sea PFP, which pairs conservation with community well-being and sustainable economic development, is expected to deliver thousands of new permanent jobs, grow and diversify the regional economy, and revitalize communities and cultures, expanding the successful model that currently supports initiatives in the adjacent Great Bear Rainforest.
The Northern Shelf Bioregion is located off the north and central coasts of B.C. and encompasses marine environments adjacent to the Great Bear Rainforest. This area, which extends south from the Alaska panhandle and includes Haida Gwaii and the waters around northern Vancouver Island, is home to an extraordinarily rich variety and abundance of marine life, including whales, salmon, seabirds, shellfish, kelp forests and eelgrass meadows.
“B.C.’s world-leading, collaborative approach will protect our precious marine areas and grow a sustainable economy with good jobs building on work that B.C., First Nations and Canada have undertaken together over many years,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “This work brings together Indigenous knowledge, cutting-edge science, and input from industry stakeholders, including fisheries, tourism and renewable energy interests.”
The grant to Coast Funds will help provide stable funding for First Nations in the region to expand marine stewardship and guardian programs. It will also support existing initiatives such as the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP) and the recently announced Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network Action Plan. Better management and new marine protected areas will help rebuild abundant fisheries by safeguarding important fish-producing habitats, while allowing ongoing fishing across most of the region.
Coast Funds has supported First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii for 15 years to help achieve their conservation, stewardship and economic development goals. As one of the original contributors to Coast Funds, the B.C. government is strengthening a model that has seen First Nations already invest $109 million in 439 conservation, sustainable energy and economic development projects that have created more than 1,250 jobs since 2008.
The $60-million grant to Coast Funds is part of an integrated approach to enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem health and supporting sustainable economies in British Columbia, which includes the new Conservation Financing Mechanism and the Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation announced this fall (see links below).
Eddy Adra, CEO of Coast Conservation Endowment Fund Foundation (Coast Funds) –
“In the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii, First Nations have demonstrated how investments in stewardship and coastal communities create jobs and opportunities while protecting the ecosystems we all rely on. We’re pleased to see the Province of B.C. renew its support as First Nations work with Crown governments and partners to extend protections and conservation financing to their marine territories.”
Dallas Smith, president, Na̲nwak̲olas Council –
“Indigenous-led stewardship, coupled with effective long-term conservation investments, has proven to be a powerful model for delivering enduring ecosystem protection while creating jobs and building sustainable economies. We welcome B.C.’s commitment to work collaboratively with our Nations to deliver on our existing marine planning partnerships, and to join our Nations and Canada at the PFP table. Together we will get these benefits flowing for nature and for people.”
K̓áwáziɫ Marilyn Slett, president of Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative and Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council –
“By protecting whole ecosystems that include people and communities in co-existence with natural ecosystems, Indigenous-led stewardship provides a blueprint for conservation and sustainable resource management worldwide. This funding provides vital long-term support for stewardship initiatives that maintain ecosystem health and biodiversity while creating new jobs and improving social and economic well-being throughout coastal communities.”
George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy –
“Strengthening Indigenous-led conservation for one of the most important ecosystems in British Columbia is a significant milestone of great environmental importance. Collaboration with First Nations means that this can be a sustainable and lasting approach to ensure this region, habitat and species are protected for generations to come. All British Columbians benefit from actions like today’s.”
Diane Lebouthillier, federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard –
“Fisheries and Oceans Canada is pleased to be working with First Nations and the Province of British Columbia in the Northern Shelf Bioregion to provide a firm foundation for sustainable Indigenous-led conservation through the Great Bear Sea Project Finance for Permanence. Together, we are working with First Nations in helping to conserve ecosystems, rebuild and sustain prosperous commercial fisheries, support social and cultural well-being, and develop sustainable economies for future generations.”
Steven Guilbeault, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change —
“Indigenous-led marine conservation of the Northern Shelf Bioregion and the Great Bear Sea Project Finance for Permanence are critical steps towards our shared goal of further protecting B.C.’s North Coast region. The Government of Canada is pleased to partner with the Government of British Columbia, First Nations, and philanthropic partners to support the rich biodiversity of species who live within this unique coastal system. By working with our provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners, Canada is acting now to protect 30% of lands and waters by 2030, support the recovery of species at risk, and halt and reverse the loss of nature by 2050.”
- A Project Finance for Permanence Initiative (PFP) is a conservation financing model that’s designed to provide financial stability and certainty for initiatives through the combined investments of multiple parties.
- A PFP is an important tool to ensure the successful implementation of lasting conservation and stewardship initiatives, which also provides increased clarity to philanthropic organizations that wish to provide financial support for conservation efforts in the region.
- The Northern Shelf Bioregion grant will help the Province meet the goal of protecting 30% of B.C.’s land base by 2030.
To learn about the Coast Conservation Endowment Fund Foundation (Coast Funds), visit: https://coastfunds.ca/
To read the Coast Funds impact report, visit: https://coastfunds.ca/news/sustaining-people-place
To read the Coast Funds 2022 annual report, visit: https://coastfunds.ca/news/coast-funds-2022-annual-report-celebrates-first-nations-leadership-in-building-a-conservation-economy/
To learn about the Marine Protected Area Network, visit: https://mpanetwork.ca/
To read the Marine Protected Area Network Action Plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/stories/marine-protected-area-network-partners-endorse-plan-to-protect-british-columbias-north-coast
To learn about the Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP), visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/crown-land-water/land-use-planning/coastal-marine-plans and https://www.mappocean.org
To learn about the Federal Government’s Commitment to Project Finance for Permanence (PFP), visit: https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2022/12/07/protecting-more-nature-partnership-indigenous-peoples
To read about the Marine Protected Area Network plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/28192
To read about the Province’s made-in-B.C. Conservation Financing Mechanism, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/29736
To read about the Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation between the Government of Canada, British Columbia and the First Nations Leadership Council, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/29800
To read about the marine plans completed by First Nations and the Province, visit: https://mappocean.org/first-nations-and-province-complete-marine-plans/
Office of the Premier
Jimmy Smith, Acting Communications Deputy Director
Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship
Coast Conservation Endowment Fund Foundation (Coast Funds)
Stephanie Butler, Communications Manager