BC Residents Stand United for the Marine Economy

Tourists sitting near the lake in the Seawall of Stanley Park in Vancouver with the Lions Gate Bridge in the background towards North Vancouver.
Harmful practices like overfishing, bottom trawling, and more have contributed to a depletion of marine resources in recent decades, leading to concerns about the future of BC’s marine economy. Photo credit: Wirestock on iStock.

What matters most to British Columbians when it comes to the future of our coast?

A new survey asked BC residents what was most important for the future of BC’s coastal economy. A striking 93% of respondents named marine conservation as a key priority, followed by small-scale fishing communities (83%), renewable energy (83%), outdoor recreation (82%) and ecotourism and wildlife (79%).

A separate report found that small-scale fishers were concerned that there is no future in fishing due to a “nexus of species declines, policy changes, and reduced numbers of commercial fishers.” Photo credit: David Stanley on Flickr

Respondents also identified the most pressing issues facing our coast: declining fish stocks (92%), open-net fish farms (90%), bottom trawling (90%), commercial overfishing (89%), and trawler by-catch (88%). 

It appears that marine health and fish abundance are seen as central to BC’s future, which is no surprise as the coastal economy relies on healthy, thriving marine resources.

Leatherback turtles in Canada have been designated as an endangered species since 2003. The turtles are experiencing a serious and global population decline and has lost 70% of its numbers in the last 15 years. Photo credit: Hélène Petit on WWF

This is likely why 79% of respondents went on to express their support for a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) in BC. The MPA network in question is the Great Bear Sea MPA Network, which is a partnership between coastal First Nations, the Province of BC, and the federal government. The network will cover about 30% of the Great Bear Sea.

Killer whale breaching out of the waters near Victoria, BC.
In addition to ensuring resources are protected for a thriving marine economy, the Great Bear Sea MPA Network is also targeting the conservation of marine mammals such as the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale. Photo credit: davemantel on iStock

Most respondents also have lost confidence in fishing companies like Jim Pattison’s Canfisco and industrialists in the salmon farming industry (32%) as sources of information when it comes to marine issues. Only 25% and 32% of respondents respectively still view these sources as trustworthy.

It is clear that British Columbians understand that protecting the resources of our marine economy is key to BC’s future prosperity, and that big corporations are not the ones we trust to lead the way forward.

Do you agree with the results of the survey? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page.