Without ongoing enforcement, even the strongest marine protection laws are meaningless.
Unfortunately, federal and provincial marine protection laws are chronically under-enforced, due primarily to a lack of funding. This creates a gap in enforcement and allows prohibited activities to go unnoticed.
At West Coast, we work to support the enforcement of Indigenous laws through Guardian Programs. For example, the Coastal Guardian Watchmen program was established to create an on-the-ground presence along the Pacific coast.
The enforcement of Canadian and Indigenous law raises countless issues. What happens when Guardians come across violations of Canadian and Indigenous laws, for example, someone fishing where they shouldn’t be? How can Indigenous nations enforce their own laws? How do Indigenous laws interact with Canadian laws in the marine space? West Coast is working with Indigenous nations to explore some of these questions around enforcement.
Top photo: Sam Beebe