The Oceans Protection Plan: A Unique Opportunity to Strengthen Partnerships with Indigenous Peoples
The Oceans Protection Plan combines several initiatives that aim to strengthen protection of Canada's oceans and seaways, enhance marine safety, and improve and protect marine environments. The Plan draws on four components:
- A cutting-edge marine safety system, including prevention of and response to marine incidents;
- Marine ecosystem protection and restoration;
- Probative data that are more accurate;
- Strengthening partnerships with Indigenous peoples.
The last component of the Oceans Protection Plan is especially important because its goal is to promote reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Therefore, strengthening current partnerships and establishing new ones should especially promote:
- Indigenous peoples' cooperation on local marine traffic issues;
- Communities' ability to respond in the event of marine emergencies; this includes training Indigenous people in search and rescue, environmental monitoring, and spill response;
- Enhancement of traditional Indigenous knowledge.
Partnerships with Indigenous and local communities will allow for more effective protection of Canada's coastlines and seaways. These communities have traditional knowledge and know-how and regularly act as first responders during a marine emergency. They are also often the most affected when a marine pollution-related incident occurs. A more active contribution from them to coastal response and protection efforts is therefore required; it is a crucial part of the Oceans Protection Plan going forward.
Through several projects initiated in this Plan, the Government of Canada would like Indigenous communities nationwide to be more involved in marine safety decisions. Several initiatives are targeted, including:
- Establishment by the Canadian Coast Guard of a Coast Guard auxiliary for the Arctic;
- Development of training programs to increase the presence of members of Indigenous communities in marine safety-related jobs;
- Strengthening Indigenous community cooperation in more marine safety-related files such as management of abandoned vessels, understanding the cumulative effects of marine transportation, establishment of coastal habitat restoration priorities, and updating and modernizing marine traffic and safety regulations.