Ocean and Coastal Jurisdiction

All orders of government – Indigenous, federal, provincial and local – have jurisdiction in coastal and marine areas under Canadian law, and each has an important role to play in coastal and marine planning, protection, management and enforcement. Indigenous peoples also have sovereign powers over their territories and Indigenous laws apply to those territories as well as Canadian laws.

The province of BC exercises considerable jurisdiction in the marine and coastal realm, and works closely with other orders of government who share this jurisdiction. Although there are a number of provincial initiatives to protect the BC coast and support coastal economies, BC has no comprehensive coastal and marine strategy to provide a foundation for these initiatives. This results in a fragmented approach to provincial coastal management.

BC currently lags behind other coastal jurisdictions in this regard – all of the Atlantic provinces, as well as neighbouring Pacific US states, already have strategies and/or legislation in place to guide coastal management.

A BC coastal strategy will clearly articulate provincial jurisdiction and enable the province to engage more effectively with other governments in coastal matters.

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Photo credit: Province of BC