Coastal Collaboration: Exploring Emerging Frameworks to Equitably Tackle Marine Debris on the BC Coast




Smy, Oriana

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Anthropogenic marine debris is plaguing the British Columbia (BC) Coast and it will take a collaborative approach to equitably tackle this issue. Outdated top-down conservation efforts do not historically provide equitable solutions to communities that are most impacted by environmental issues. A community-based lens can better reflect the disproportionate socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental burdens of marine debris. My research examines the BC Government's Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative and the Coastal Marine Strategy as case studies to represent current and future State funding streams that support marine protection and Indigenous-led conservation. My qualitative methodology is based on participant observation, literature review, and interviews with important actors from the Province and the Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation. The declared Indigenous-led Marine Protected Area of Gitdisdzu Lukyeks/Kitasu Bay provides an example of asserting inherent stewardship rights in accordance with Kitasoo/Xai’xais Indigenous laws and protocols. My research questions the impacts of marine debris on biodiversity and food security, and how State policy can better support Indigenous stewardship priorities beyond recognition and remediation efforts. Co-design and co-governance strategies for Marine Protected Areas may be an indication of a shifting tide of intergovernmental relations in Canada. But only time will tell if this pivot in policy creation can provide the long-term mechanisms to equitably address the issue of marine debris on the BC Coast.



marine debris, marine protected areas, environmental anthropology, reconciliation, Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas