How do we know if we are doing it right?

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Viv Pattison, Lynn Lee and Joe Thorley enjoying a lively discussion about habitat monitoring gaps.-min

Molly Clarkson —

When you start applying the bits and pieces of a marine plan to the real world, how do you know if you are doing it right? This was the question that the Council of the Haida Nation, in partnership with the Province of British Columbia, explored at a two-day workshop held this March in HlGaagilda Skidegate. The workshop brought together organizations and agencies to better understand the extent of current marine monitoring in Haida Gwaii, look at ways to collectively gather and share data, and inform the development of a monitoring plan. This monitoring plan will be founded in an ecosystem-based management framework or EBM and will be used to track the effects of implementing the Haida Gwaii Marine Plan.

On the first day, short presentations by workshop participants highlighted the significant ecological monitoring work that is currently taking place on the islands, as well as gaps in current ecological monitoring programs. It was found that some monitoring of Islands resident’s cultural, social and economic wellbeing has taken place on the Islands, but that a lot more could be done in this area of monitoring. On day two, the group reviewed and provided feedback on different things to monitor. These fell into seven broad categories:

  • Sense of Place and Wellbeing – food harvesting, retention of residents, educational attainment
  • Coastal Development and Livelihoods – local business ownership, employment diversity
  • Species and Habitats – key species (eelgrass, herring), habitats
  • Clean Water – number, location and size of marine spills, beach debris
  • Climate Change and Oceanography – ocean acidity, sea level, sea surface temperature
  • Stewardship and Governance – collaborative decision making, stakeholder engagement
  • Seafood – seafood production, fishing effort

Some of these ‘things to monitor’ or ‘indicators’ will be included in a monitoring plan, and consistently measured to give us an idea of the marine-related social, cultural, economic and ecological trends at play on Haida Gwaii.

The monitoring plan will set out priorities, timelines and responsibilities for monitoring activities, and the findings will be publically reported every five years. In turn, the contents of the monitoring report may inform the review, amendment and updating of the Haida Gwaii Marine Plan. This approach means that management and stewardship actions taken by the planning partners can continually be improved as more information becomes available.

The intensive two-day workshop was attended by: Haida Ocean Technical Team (CHN), Haida Fisheries (CHN), Heritage and Natural Resources (CHN), Solutions Table (CHN), Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, Gwaii Haanas, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Gwaii Trust Society, Misty Isles Economic Development Society, Haida Gwaii Community Futures, Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society, Laskeek Bay Conservation Society, and Hecate Strait Streamkeepers Society. It also supported by resource people from the Coastal Stewardship Network, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Coastal Ocean Research Institute at the Vancouver Aquarium.

What is Ecosystem-based Management?

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) takes into account the ecology of the system and interactions with cultural and socioeconomic realities. This relatively new approach to management is an integral component of the CHN Marine Planning Program’s work.

In 2007 the Haida Marine Work Group defined EBM for Haida Gwaii marine planning as follows:

Respect is the foundation of ecosystem-based management. It acknowledges that the land, sea, air and all living things, including the human community, are interconnected and that we have the responsibility to sustain and restore balance and harmony.


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