The North Coast Cumulative Effects Program

The North Coast Cumulative Effects Program is comprised of representatives from Gitga’at, Gitxaała, Metlakatla, Haisla, Kitselas, and Kitsumkalum Nations; the British Columbia ministries of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development; and with coordination and technical support from North Coast-Skeena First Nations Stewardship Society (NCSFNSS).

WHAT WE DO

Current areas of work under the NC CE Program

Aquatic Habitats: Estuaries

Food Security and Access to Resources

Salmon

Field Program

Data Management

Communications and Engagement

Data Governance

Contact someone at the NC CE Program to learn more

    First Nations Cumulative Effects Work Crucial in the North Coast

    With the North Coast of British Columbia (BC), Canada being a hub of increasing industrial activity over the past decades there is a critical need to break out of the silos of traditional approaches to addressing impacts in a case-by-case basis and instead engage collectively with Partner First Nations to understand and address the cumulative effects in the region.

    First Nations are a fundamental aspect of the resource management landscape. Their perspectives and interests are formed from a reliance on the waters and lands for community sustenance, wealth, culture, and health.

    Their perspectives and interests are formed from a reliance on the waters and lands for community sustenance, wealth, culture, and health.

    On the North Coast of BC, First Nations have fostered opportunities such as the Marine Plan Partnership and the Environmental Stewardship Initiative to work closely in collaboration as Partners with the Province of BC to monitor, assess and manage cumulative effects on shared values

    Vision and Objectives
    of the North Coast Cumulative Effects Program

    The primary vision of the NC CE Program is to enable resource decision-making to be tuned in and responsive to cumulative effects on core coastal and marine values, and improve the stewardship of marine ecosystems and resources and the human well-being of the coastal communities.

     

    The process of the program is framed around implementation of the MaPP Cumulative Effects Framework (MaPP CEF). The MaPP CEF identifies nine components organized in four phases (Foundation, Assessment, Management, and Monitoring) that constitute a comprehensive cumulative effects assessment and management program for the marine and coastal environment.

    Creating and Strengthening  Relationships

     

    Strengthen existing or create new relationships

    to support implementation

    of the MaPP CEF  for core coastal and marine  values.

    Assessment

     

    Cumulative effects assessment evaluates the extent to which individual actions or events (including climate change), create stress on valued components of socioeconomic and/or biophysical systems.

    Management Decisions 

     

     

    Collaboratively identify management objectives for ecological, social and cultural values and utilize assessment results to improve decision making.

    An Ecosystem-Based Management Approach

    The NC CE program uses an ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach to evaluate and predict the effects not only of any single project that would ordinarily trigger environmental assessments, but of all such projects that have already occurred or are likely to occur in the future

    The NC CE EBM is an adaptive approach that utilizes both science and Aboriginal ecological knowledge and includes three important elements:
    EBM supports a holistic and integrated approach that First Nations have practiced for millennia and is seen as a way to return to a balanced approach to resource use and protection.

    Current Activities and Progress

    An initial suite of four values were identified to tackle within the NC CE
    Program: Food Security; Access to Resources; Aquatic Habitat: Estuaries; and
    Salmon. The NC CE Field Program, the NC Data Management System (NC
    DMS), and Data Governance are all crucial pieces to the program that
    support the ongoing value-based work

    Food Security and Access to Resources

    Food Security and Access to Resources are core values within the North Coast CE Program. The value-based assessments underway provide an understanding of current condition and barriers impacting NC Nations Food Security and Access to Resources. 

     

    A primary goal of the program is addressing these barriers while also managing healthy ecosystems  and communities. 

    food-safety (1)

    Food Security and Access to Resources

    The broad objective for the Food Security & Access to Resources (FS/AtR) work is: “Protect and enhance First Nations access to marine and coastal resources to support local First Nations and in accordance with section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, protect and enhance First Nations use of territories and resources for community wellbeing.”
    work

    Work to date:

    The FS/AtR team has completed a Cumulative Effects Assessment report with the intentions of carrying forward management recommendations into the next steps of implementation. The team also proposed and implemented an immediate pilot project of Community Harvesting Grants to help offset barriers to food security and access to resources.

    steps

    Next steps:

    Work is underway to move forward on engagement with key decision- makers on management recommendations that arose from the CE Assessment.

    Published works:

    Aquatic Habitat: Estuaries

    A significant component of the North Coast Plan Area is the Skeena River Estuary, which is part of one of the most productive and biologically diverse watersheds in Canada. 

    Besides the immense ecological importance of the
    Skeena Estuary, the estuary also supports commercial and recreational industries, provides ecosystem services, and has high cultural and historical significance to First Nations.

     

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    Aquatic Habitat: Estuaries

    The broad objective for the Aquatic Habitat: Estuaries value work is:  

    “Protect and restore habitat and ecosystem function for species that are highly valued for their ecological and cultural significance.” 

    work

    Work to date:

    Work on the Estuary value has included the completion of a current condition assessment that integrated desktop research and five years of NC CE  field program data. The Project Team has also developed a suite of initial management recommendations. 

    steps

    Next steps:

    Work is underway to finalize the current condition report and a protocol for future assessments and to carry forward the management recommendations into the next stages of stakeholder engagement and implementation. 

    Published works:

    Salmon

    The Skeena Estuary supports some of the largest fish populations on the coast, including juvenile and adult salmon, that are ecologically, economically, and culturally important to First Nations on the North Coast.  

     

    Multiple and increasing pressures result in significant impacts  on salmon as well as the vulnerable but essential ecosystems within the Skeena watershed.  Understanding cumulative effects in the North Coast is key for supporting not only healthy salmon populations, but also for addressing First Nation Food Security and Access to Resources and protecting the health of the Skeena Estuary.   

     

    food-safety (1)

    Salmon

    The broad objective for the Salmon value work is:
    “Protect, restore and foster healthy salmon habitats and diverse populations
    to support healthy ecosystems, cultural values, and sustainable harvest, and
    meet the needs of First Nations and local communities, now and in the
    future.”

    work

    Work to date:

    Work on the salmon value has included a phased approach to assessment beginning with the implementation of the Fish and Fish Habitat Protocol (developed by the Skeena ESI region) across the North Coast. Although a very important value, the program did not have the supporting funds to advance this work. In 2021, funding was secured to develop a Skeena Estuary Habitat Management and Protection Plan
    steps

    Next steps:

    Work is underway that will build on the results of the Estuary CE Current Condition assessment to engage partners and key decision-makers to develop a Skeena Estuary Habitat Management and Protection Plan and implement two priority salmon habitat restoration projects.

    Published works:

    NC CE Field Program

    Monitoring is critical for the North Coast as it provides information on the
    current status of values through the measurement of indicators, assists with
    the identification of new environmental concerns, the prioritization of issues
    and development of management decisions, and the evaluation of trends
    over time. Monitoring data also can provide the information and evidence
    needed to determine what is working and what is not, so that policies and
    management actions can be adapted if necessary.
    Having the communities that are most dependent on values involved in the
    monitoring process offers a way in which to build a situational awareness.
    This in turn, can lead to receiving important feedback on the values
    foundation, which can lead to continuous improvement of the monitoring
    itself and also the capacity to make appropriate decisions that have the
    greatest impact.
    Each field season (summer) technicians from partner Nations conduct field
    sampling to collect data throughout the North Coast. The 2021 summer
    season marked the 5th year of the field program and resulted in the
    collection of monitoring data across 12 sites in the Skeena Estuary that
    included eelgrass, soft bottom, and kelp habitats.

    Monitoring data has been collected for the NC CE program since 2017 on the following indicators:

    Water Quality

    Sediment Chemistry

    Bivalve Tissue Chemistry

    Benthic Meiofauna

    Fish communities in eelgrass

    Eelgrass condition and extent

    Kelp condition and extent

    DEVELOPING LOCAL EXPERTISE

    Warren Bolton, a Kitsumkalum band member, GIS
    technician, and drone operator, undertakes eelgrass survey work near Ridley Island on the
    North Coast. Bolton’s involvement with MaPP’s CE project dovetailed perfectly with formal
    studies in the sciences.

    COLLABORATING ON CUMULATIVE EFFECTS MONITORING

    Field teams involved in North Coast CE work often bring together members of several First Nations and communities, as well as people from the North Coast Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI).

    NC Data Management System

    To facilitate the assessment and management of cumulative effects in the
    North Coast, and improve and coordinate data collection and management, a
    comprehensive, integrated, user-friendly North Coast Data Management System (NC DMS)
    was built to support this diverse group of partners that includes First Nations
    and government.

    The North Coast Data Management Portal (accessible to Partners) provides:

    Technology for managing, analyzing, and displaying data

    A metadata catalogue that describes data and information

    Secure data storage with a full dataset inventory with sensitive metadata accessed only by subsets of user groups

    The collection and capture of field data

    A flexible system to allow integration of other application tools eg. GIS

    Communications and Engagement

    Ongoing North Coast Communications and Engagement focuses on reporting on the progress, process and accomplishments of the NC CE Program. Consistent ongoing communications and engagement activities support the successful implementation of the North Coast Marine Plan, including: public and stakeholder communication and engagement, media relations, and the use of updates, success stories, newsletters, annual reports, and performance reporting to communicate the progress, process and achievements of the NC CE Program.

    In the News!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Cumulative effects (CE) are the impacts that occur from present, past, and reasonably
    foreseeable human actions or natural events that result in changes to environmental,
    social, economic, health and cultural values (MaPP, 2016). Cumulative effects
    assessment evaluates the extent to which individual actions or events (including climate
    change), create stress on valued components of socioeconomic and/or biophysical
    systems. These assessments are important because even though the effects of
    individual actions may be considered insignificant upon assessment, the incremental
    and combined effects of individual actions or events may be significant.

    Communities in the North Coast are already dealing with the impacts and changes that
    occur as a result of cumulative effects. Some of these changes include: degradation of
    food harvest areas; barriers to harvest, negative interactions between industry and
    culturally important places and resources, and negative changes to the health of
    community members.

    In 2017, the Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP) joined the North Coast Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) to form the North Coast Cumulative Effects (NC CE)
    Program. The merging of these two initiatives arose from a shared goal of developing and fully implementing a cumulative effects framework to continuously monitor, assess, and manage the impacts of industrial and non-industrial development in the North Coast.

    Speak to integration of MaPP and ESI and the links to related initiatives and work e.g. BCSRIF, Hakai, DFO baseline monitoring, etc
    Add description and visual showing governance structure: FN Caucus and Technical Tier 1, NCSF, PT, Subgroups
    The Marine Planning Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP) initiative is a partnership between 18 member First Nations and the Province of British Columbia that began in 2015. Together, the group have co-developed and are implementing four sub- regional Marine Plans, and a Regional Action Framework. The North Coast Marine Plan can be accessed here. In general, the goals of MaPP are to protect the marine environment; help create opportunities for sustainable economic development and support the well-being of coastal communities. To learn more about MaPP, visit
    Welcome 2018
    The Environmental Stewardship Initiative (ESI) is an initiative created in 2014 as part of the Province’s strategy to advance Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) development through collaborative work to address First Nations’ environmental concerns that arise during the regulatory process for natural resource developments. ESI is led by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI). There are four regions in ESI, one of which is the North Coast, which involves the same six Nations that are involved in MaPP’s North Coast sub-region. The broad goals of ESI are to establish positive environmental legacies across the north by investing in four key areas: ecosystem assessment and monitoring; ecosystem restoration and enhancement; ecosystem research and knowledge exchange; and stewardship education and training. North Coast ESI has prioritised work on two projects: Ecosystem Restoration and Cumulative Effects. More information about ESI can be found here.

    The North Coast Plan Area includes the area from Portland Inlet to the south end of Aristazabal Island, including the communities of Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat and the land and marine territories of the six partner Nations. Other Nations also have territories in the North Coast Plan Area including Lax Kw’alaams, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo, and Nisga’a Nations but are not participating directly in the NC CE Program. See North Coast Plan Area

    Within the North Coast, a wide range of activities occur including: commercial fisheries, including processing; logging; port activities; recreational fishing, and tourism; mining; oil and gas extraction and refinement; pipelines and shipping activity; utilities, and renewable energy projects. Concerns about cumulative effects in the NC are exasperated by the recent boom of port and liquified natural gas (LNG) activities in Kitimat and Prince Rupert

    The North Coast is subject to development pressure from numerous small to large scale industrial activities and proposed projects are assessed project by project, essentially negating to account for any possible compounding effects that may occur as a result of these ongoing projects. Cumulative effects on core coastal and marine values are not well understood nor consistently addressed through monitoring, assessment, or management programs
    Cumulative effects are a priority concern and affecting many values on the North Coast. The NC CE Program is working on an initial suite of shared values to assess, monitor and manage cumulative effects under a cumulative effects framework collaboratively developed by Partner Nations and the Province under the Marine Plan Partnership, the MaPP Cumulative Effects Framework (MaPP CEF). The framework establishes the collaboratively defined goals and principles of CE management and offers high level guidance on the key components of work
    The foundational work of the NC CE program included selecting values (objectives) and indicators relevant to the NC and delineating the appropriate spatial and temporal scales. Through multiple phases of engagement, 33 initial common values were identified with four values that were prioritized as a starting point for implementation during the foundation phase. These include: Aquatic Habitats (Estuaries); Salmon; Food Security; and First Nations Access to Resources.

    The assessment phase involves working to gain an understanding of current conditions, historical trends, and future scenarios in the NC.>br>
    Management recommendations are developed with the intention to inform decisions and develop assessment recommendations, which are based on the assessment results, and in order to manage the values and mitigate cumulative effects.

    The monitoring phase includes monitoring of the indicators themselves and also monitoring the effectiveness of management actions. The process is iterative and adaptive, meaning that management pathways may be further revised with each iteration over time to create a more complete picture of the NC
    EBM is considered to be a crucial approach for effective resource management and differs from sector-based management in that it defines management strategies for entire systems rather than individual components of the system.

    EBM is an adaptive approach to managing human activities that seeks to ensure the coexistence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities

    Long-term environmental monitoring, evaluation, and reporting are fundamental to
    understanding and documenting environmental changes, and assessing the
    effectiveness of management actions. Monitoring of data can assist with the
    identification of new environmental concerns, the prioritization of issues and
    development of management decisions, and the evaluation of trends over time.
    Monitoring data also can provide the information and evidence needed to determine
    what is working and what is not, so that policies and management actions can be
    adapted if necessary.

    The NC DMS was developed to enable project team members to contribute, house,
    aggregate, analyze, and visualize a wide range of regional monitoring data. A key intent
    of this tool is to improve technical collaboration on cumulative effects and the
    accessibility of collaboratively-generated data and assessments for decision-makers.
    This will facilitate evaluation of project proposals and management of cumulative effects
    on the North Coast

    The NC DMS was developed to enable project team members to contribute, house,
    aggregate, analyze, and visualize a wide range of regional monitoring data. A key intent
    of this tool is to improve technical collaboration on cumulative effects and the
    accessibility of collaboratively-generated data and assessments for decision-makers.
    This will facilitate evaluation of project proposals and management of cumulative effects
    on the North Coas

    • The North Coast Data Management Portal provides:
    • Technology for managing, analyzing, and displaying data
    • A metadata catalogue that describes data and information
    • Secure data storage with a full dataset inventory with sensitive metadata
      accessed only by subsets of user groups
    • The collection and capture of field data
    • A flexible system to allow integration of other application tools eg. GIS
    Indicators were selected for the NC CE monitoring program that represented key ecological components of the Skeena River Estuary that are likely to be affected by CE and also selected based on their suitability to assess and monitor those CE. Indicators

    selected also were: representative of critical habitat components or were indicators of habitat quality for organisms that use the estuary; responsive to potential impacts that were identified for the estuary; assessed previously in studies so that baseline data existed already; cost-effective to monitor; and representative of First Nations values in the regions