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REPORTING · 12th April 2010
Walter McFarlane
The Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) representatives were in town on April 1st to meet with the community about how to receive public consultation on the topic of ocean management.

Among the hosts of the meeting were First Nations and the Department of Fisheries. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss with people how they could get involved in this planning process.

PNCIMA is a collaborative planning process to develop an integrated plan for the region of Canada’s Pacific waters from the northern portion of Vancouver Island to Alaska. This ties in to conflicts for space between different groups trying to use the ocean for different purposes.

One part of the plan is the development of key objectives which relate to conservation, culture, social, economic and ecological health. They also wish to develop ways to talk to groups about their plans.

The process started with a forum in Richmond in March, 2009, and was followed up by community meetings. An assessment report has been started.

They want to be able to establish how people are getting together; they want to work with this group to draft plan, which hope will be ready by 2012.

“If we’re going to undertake this planning exercise for the marine environment, how can different interested and affected parties play a role in providing input into that planning exercise? We have put some work into the last year to figure out what that might look like, based on meetings we’ve been having in different places, and with different stakeholders,” said Neil Davids of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

He explained what they have learned to date, what they are proposing and where they are going to go from there. Their first idea was to create an advisory committee in which interested people could communicate with each other. They are supported by a working body doing day to day work. All of this is overseen by First Nations, the Federal Agencies, and the Provincial Government, although the latter is just there to observe.

However, Davids explained some people have told the organization they would not have the time to invest in this project, while others would not be interested in the input. Another problem is if all the groups they wish to involve were to be involved, the committee would be huge.

Another idea is a working group which would try to address all the proposals and all the things already going on in areas to lessen conflict groups, and look at negative impacts upon the environment. He pointed out there were quite a few proposals which would increase shipping traffic along the coast for Kitimat. It is the hope these groups will provide input on the projects.

Davids suggested public meetings where they could provide updates and ask questions of the public. Another idea was for a workshop where they could ask questions. He even suggested a website with a forum for people to provide input through polls, surveys and other tools, and added this method offered quite a few benefits.

After the review of the documents is finished, they are going to take the input from the communities and revise it. The deadline for this is April 15th. Then they put the group together. The project has a two year time line.

Further information is on their website, http://www.pncima.org/, so people who did not attend the meeting can still get involved before the 15th.