Ocean Week Book Launch: West Coast’s Guide to Marine Conservation Law in BC

Fish were once so abundant in BC waters that Indigenous elders remember dried salmon being stacked like firewood behind the stove, and the sound of herring at night so loud you could mistake it for rainfall. But declines on the BC coast have accelerated over the last century, with marine wildlife cut in half in just four decades.  

It may seem daunting, but there are solutions to help turn the tide and reverse these worrying declines.  

West Coast Environmental Law’s marine law experts have spent years studying and documenting the legal tools available to our governments to protect marine and coastal ecosystems, and their work has now been published in a new book available from UBC Press – Protecting the Coast and Ocean: A Guide to Marine Conservation Law in British Columbia.

Originally published in 2020, our Guide to Marine Conservation Law in BC is a comprehensive resource that covers the wide array of legal tools available to Indigenous, federal, provincial and local governments to protect the coast and ocean in BC.

An updated edition is now available in print and open-access digital versions via UBC Press.

This meticulous work catalogues not only the laws and designations that governments in Canada can draw on – marine protected areas, Indigenous protected and conserved areas, land-use measures, and zoning bylaws – but also the international treaties and designations that shape marine conservation and support collaboration.  

The authors analyze the scope and applicability of each legal tool, rating its strengths and weaknesses, and assess factors such as ease of implementation and quality of protection on the water. In-depth case studies illustrate how these instruments have been used in practice. 

Although the compound impacts of climate change, overfishing, and pollution seem overwhelming, Protecting the Coast and Ocean convincingly demonstrates that Indigenous, federal, provincial, and local governments have the legal tools to protect coastal and marine ecosystems, reverse species extinction, and plan for a resilient ocean. 

This comparative analysis of legal tools for coastal and ocean protection will be invaluable to a wide audience: non-governmental organizations; Indigenous governments and organizations; federal, provincial, and local government staff and politicians; legal professionals and academics working in the field.

Protecting the Coast and Ocean is a useful and timely resource for ocean champions and practitioners in marine conservation, at a time when coastal and ocean protection initiatives are building momentum both in Canada and globally.  

In December 2022, governments from around the world – including Canada – committed to protect 30% of the planet’s ocean by 2030 through a landmark agreement reached at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal. This book provides a unique and thorough analysis of the legal tools available to help meet that goal in BC, along with tangible real-world examples. 

After years of work to put together this hefty resource, our team is thrilled that the book is finally available on bookstore shelves (as well as in open-access digital format). We wrote this guide to serve the growing community of people working to protect the coast and ocean in BC, and we hope it provides useful insights that will lead to tangible progress on our marine conservation goals.  

The hardcover edition of Protecting the Coast and Ocean can be purchased here.

The publication is also available as an open-access PDF – download it here. 

This Guide was developed with the generous support of the Sitka Foundation and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation.  

West Coast Marine Team