Home » Environment » World Ocean Day » Uniting First Nations Voices to Preserve BC’s Waters
World Ocean Day

Uniting First Nations Voices to Preserve BC’s Waters

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

BC’s First Nations share a deep connection to the province’s waters. The First Nations Fisheries Council unites their interests towards effective conservation and stewardship.

BC is home to more than 200 distinct, diverse First Nations communities. Despite significant differences in language, governance, and knowledge systems, First Nations peoples have one fundamental thing in common: a strong, time-honoured connection to their lands and waters. As stewards of their ancestral territories, First Nations communities coast-to-coast have nurtured a deep connection with their environment since time immemorial—and persevered through colonial obstacles. 


The First Nations Fisheries Council of BC (FNFC) is a non-rights holding organization that supports First Nations in protecting, reconciling, and advancing their Aboriginal Title and Rights and Treaty Rights as they relate to fisheries and the health and protection of aquatic resources in British Columbia (BC). FNFC plays a crucial role in convening, eliciting, and amplifying First Nations’ priorities to influence the integrated planning and management of fisheries and aquatic resources at the province-wide level. Its primary focus is to support the capacity and relationships necessary for collective action among First Nations for a unified voice on all fisheries-related matters.

FNFC’s activities are guided by a council of delegates appointed by First Nations in each of the 14 geographic regions in BC. Through a range of initiatives, FNFC advances the diverse interests of First Nations in BC, with a strong emphasis on amplifying Indigenous-led management and stewardship of aquatic resources. This dedication serves to safeguard the interests of both present and future generations.

Safeguarding Salmon through Collective Action

In February 2023, the Save our Salmon (SOS) Coalition was launched in partnership, between the First Nations Fisheries Council of BC, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance, and the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance, to address a shared problem: the potential of Wild Pacific Salmon extinction across five native species. 

Since the 1970s, the population of these wild Pacific salmon species has decreased by over 90%. This decline can be attributed to three main factors: logging, overfishing, and pollution. Logging practices, especially clear cutting near waterways, have resulted in sediment runoff that harms salmon eggs and disrupts their habitat. Overfishing has depleted the overall salmon population, while pollution from chemicals like pesticides and industrial waste has led to health problems and reduced reproductive success for salmon. These combined factors pose a serious threat to the survival of wild Pacific salmon and the delicate balance of aquatic ecosystems in BC.

To safeguard the survival of wild Pacific salmon, it is crucial for the public to endorse sustainable fishing practices, champion habitat conservation efforts, and work towards reducing pollution in rivers and oceans. SOS supports these objectives through community engagement, scientific research, and collaborative partnerships. 

Empowering Communities with Cumulative Effects Assessment

The First Nations Fisheries Council of BC and Transport Canada have teamed up to co-develop and implement an assessment on the cumulative effects of marine shipping along coastal ecosystems and communities in BC. Results will confirm the layered impact of the shipping industry across interconnected ecosystems. 

FNFC has worked diligently with First Nations changemakers across BC to develop the Indigenous Cumulative Effects Assessment Framework (ICEAF); which places emphasis on Indigenous knowledge of coasts and coastline. ICEAF has been developed to equip Indigenous communities in BC with a roadmap to develop their own cumulative effects assessment. This initiative will help drive community-based action to restoring our coasts and coastline. 

Ocean Use Guided by Marine Spatial Planning

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a systemic and integrated approach to managing human activities in marine and coastal areas, ensuring there is balance between economic and ecological priorities. The primary goal of MSP is to effectively manage fishing, shipping, and conservation efforts to safeguard the health of marine habitats and ecosystems. FNFC, in partnership with many South Coast Nations, has developed an Indigenous Marine Spatial Planning Readiness Guidebook to ensure First Nations in BC have access to the information they need to meaningfully engage in provincial MSP as well as their own community-specific marine planning. This resource will empower Nations to address marine planning from an Indigenous lens while accounting for the unique and differing capacities, priorities and values each Nation has.

Stand with First Nations communities for effective coastal stewardship. Learn more about the FNFC.

Next article