Coastal Collaboration: How Co-Governance Strategies and Community-based Conservation Frameworks Can Strengthen Social Equity and Tackle the Issue of Anthropogenic Marine Debris on the BC Coast




Smy, Oriana

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Anthropogenic marine debris is plaguing the British Columbia (BC) coast, and it is going to take a decolonial approach to equitably tackle this issue. Outdated top-down conservation management efforts do not provide just solutions to communities that are most impacted. A community-based approach can better represent the disproportionate socio-economic, cultural, and environmental impacts of marine debris. My research explores the BC Government's Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative as a case study to represent current and future state funding streams that can support Indigenous-led conservation. My methodology is based on interviews with important actors from the province and Indigenous communities, analysis of reports, and literature review. The Indigenous-led Marine Protected Area of Gitdisdzu Lukyeks / Kitasu Bay, in Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation provides an example of assertions of inherent stewardship rights. My research questions look at the impacts of marine debris on food security and how state policy can better support Indigenous stewardship priorities. I hope this research will inform ongoing collaborative efforts towards pollution prevention in the marine environment, while supporting decolonial conservation strategies. Co-design and co-governance initiatives for Marine Protected Areas may be an indication of a shifting tide of intergovernmental relations in Canada, but only time will tell if these can be the mechanism to equitably tackle the issue of marine debris on the BC Coast.



Food Sovereignty, Marine and Ocean Governance, Environmental Justice and Social Equity, Anthropocene, Environmental Anthropology, Marine Debris