Marine Use Planning in First Nations Communities

Integrated marine use planning on the British Columbia coast has been a collaborative process bringing together First Nations and other governments to determine the sustainable resource use of marine areas.

Similar to First Nations land use planning approaches, marine use plans merge ancient First Nations knowledge with modern science in an ecosystem-based approach to resource management.

Working through Coastal First Nations, the North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship society, and other organizations, First Nations have come together in marine planning processes for a vast ocean area of the north Pacific coast.

An alliance of First Nations working together on marine use initiatives of this magnitude is unprecedented in Canada.

Cisla: Taking care of the Kvai Conservancy
History of Development

In 1997, Canada introduced the country’s first Oceans Act – legislation authorizing the Minster of Fisheries and Oceans Canada to lead the development of a national oceans management strategy for three coasts.


Five years later, Canada’s Oceans Strategy was released, at a time when coastal First Nations were looking at ways to expand our model of land use planning into marine use planning for our ocean territories.

In 2002, Coastal First Nations members signed an agreement – with Fisheries and Oceans, DFO, and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, INAC – to develop ocean management initiatives under the Oceans Strategy aligned with First Nations interests.


In 2005, Coastal First Nations, through its members and member organizations, began consulting with communities on the development of a marine planning process.


Canada and Coastal First Nations members officially agreed to a planning process for the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area, PNCIMA in 2008.  Joined by Nanwakolas Council nations and the Province of BC in 2010,  PNCIMA became a tri-partite government process.


In 2011, the Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast, MaPP, initiative expanded on other processes underway to put in place regional and sub-regional marine use planning led by First Nations communities.


The MaPP plan for one of the largest marine planning areas in the world was approved by First Nations and BC in 2015.


In 2017, PNCIMA received the full endorsement of First Nations, Canada and BC.

Coastal First Nations members are also engaged in a process with eight other First Nations, Canada and BC to establish an interconnected system of marine protected areas for the north Pacific coast through the Northern Shelf Bioregion Marine Protected Area Network planning process.