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Ocean Threats

Ships in Vancouver harbour

Life on the coast of British Columbia is shaped by the marine environment. Human uses of marine and coastal space are the foundation of local cultures, economies and livelihoods, but these uses can also threaten vulnerable marine resources and ecosystems if impacts are not properly considered in management. 

The entire marine and coastal environment of British Columbia is affected by multiple human activities. Fishing, shipping, aquaculture, tourism and coastal development are on the rise, along with many other uses of marine space. Damaging practices and unsustainable levels of use pose threats to marine ecosystems.

Only a tiny fraction of the ocean has been protected from human impacts. Even when marine areas are protected, all too often damaging activities are still permitted to continue. Laws and policies can assess and manage these threats. At West Coast, we’re working to strengthen the legal regime to safeguard the oceans that sustain us.

Climate change, pollution and ocean acidification – as well as cumulative impacts –make marine life more vulnerable to the effects of local human activity. But these threats are not manageable through the area-based protections of marine protected areas (MPAs).Other laws that prevent or limit pollution, protect habitat and species, require environmental assessments, and regulate industries with the most potential to harm the ocean – like industrial fishing, shipping and offshore oil and gas – are required for a healthy ocean.

Our work supports the implementation of ecosystem-based management, considering interactions among resource users and the cumulative effects of ocean uses and activities.

Top photo: Michael Chu