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And thus did the discussion begin.
REPORTING · 17th March 2011
Walter McFarlane
The Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area Initiative (PNCIMA) was in Kitimat to report on their progress and hear back from the people of Kitimat on March 7th. On behalf of the Haisla Nation, Gary Morrison welcomed everyone to Haisla Territory.

“PNCIMA is promoting an approach to managing human activity in the oceans so it leads to healthy ecosystems and healthy communities and it’s pretty conceptual,” said Alex Grzybowski, the faciltator

“We’re using these meetings as an opportunity to meet with communities and talk about what this marine planning process could mean to them and other things which could be important. It is an interesting process in a number of ways,” said Neil Davis from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Davis is also the PNCIMA coordinator.

Grzybowski explained they were coming from discussions in Campbell River and Port Hardy. He wanted to update the community on what has happened since the meeting a year ago and he wanted to get feedback from the community on four issues: 1: Economic strategies from a marine environment, 2: transportation strategies and vessel safety, 3: Commercial, recreational and First nations fisheries and 4: Marine Protection.

Davis explained PNCIMA is about putting together a management plan for an area of ocean from the Alaska Boarder to the Continental Shelf to the North edge of Brooks Peninsula to Campbell River. They are discussing this with all interested parties to put together a list of priorities on how they should manage the area, recognising there are a lot of things going on in the same marine area.

They are also going to have to connect the plan to the government agencies who can implement the plan. The plan has to be relevant to the province, jurisdictions, and transport Canada. In addition, the plan needs to be adaptable as new issues arrive and as parts of the plan are working or not working.

One of the things they found out during the first series of meetings was people wanted opportunities to participate in this program and that people get their information through different ways, so they need to find different ways to communicate with people.

At this time, PNCIMA is establishing the goals they wish to achieve. Then they will be looking at strategies and objectives for achieving their goals, options to achieve those goals and integrate the work they do on the plan to related processes. Finally, they will draft the plan and circulate it for public review.

A few minutes were given for questions and answers before Steve Diggon from Local First Nations / Coast Guard Initiative began his presentation on Ecosystem Based Management (EBM).

He expressed this was defined as: “An active approach to managing human activities that seeks to ensure the coexistence of fully healthy functioning systems and human communities.”

Diggon stated topics were divided into sectors and the new intent is to combine economics with ecology and culture. He said there were no easy answers and things were changing all the time. The intent was to come up with a balanced and inclusive approach.

Davis came next, speaking about how this plan fits together. To do this, they have drafted a document called ‘The Issues, Outputs and Path of the PNCIMA Plan.’ He explained they would not be able to do everything off the bat but they could make progress on the project. He explained the document is providing them with guidance.

Davis stated they came up with a short list of topics people want to deal with. “1: economic strategies, 2 is transportation, 3 is fisheries and 4 is marine protection. From each of these topics, we’re considering a few more specific things to do about that topic.”

He explained there were a lot of strategies out there for managing oceans and how can they be integrated. Davis expressed these topics were interconnected with concerns and issues under other topics.

With that, the meeting prepared to break into the smaller groups for individual discussion. Alex told people he wanted to know what the issues which affect Kitimat are, what actions should be taken and how it relates to the concept of EBM.

This presentation left Councillor Bob Corless with a question which he brought to Council later that night. He made a motion to have a discussion on their ocean policy.

“More and more, being a coastal community, we are being asked questions in regards to our oceans, the path to our ocean is right outside our door and perhaps oceans in general be it tanker traffic or whatever,” said Corless.

He said someone asked what was Council’s policy on the oceans. He said they do not discuss the ocean outside marina’s and tanker traffic. He said people are waking up to the issues such as the Halibut, Rock Fish and areas which people were not supposed to access. The motion was called and carried.