Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP) Regional Kelp Monitoring to Inform Ecosystem-Based Management

Graphic recording of session by Savanna Young.

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The Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP) is an initiative currently being co-led by 17 First Nations and the government of the Province of British Columbia that developed and is implementing plans for marine uses in B.C.’s Northern Shelf Bioregion using an ecosystem-based management (EBM) framework. The MaPP integrated EBM monitoring work aims to improve the state of ecological and human well-being systems in the MaPP region and sub-regions by: (a) increasing understanding of the state of these systems through the integration of scientific understanding, local monitoring, and traditional ecological knowledge in reporting on selected EBM indicators; and, (b) informing collaborative decision-making and adaptive management. 

MaPP Partners identified 17 regional EBM indicators that reflect the valued components of the social-ecological system and potential stressors affecting these components. We report on the development and implementation of a coordinated regional monitoring program for one of these components: kelp. Kelp is an important ecosystem engineer and is culturally and commercially valued; yet, our understanding of status and trends in kelp ecosystems and potential drivers of change in the Northern Shelf Bioregion is limited. 

By collecting indicator data across the sub-regions using regionally consistent methodologies, the MaPP partners aim to gain a better understanding of local- vs. sub-regional- vs. regional-scale drivers of change in kelp ecosystems, which will further inform implementation of the MaPP marine spatial plans and regional action framework and help identify management actions. 

We describe our approach to collaboratively develop and implement the regional kelp monitoring program across the MaPP region including: (1) identifying collective issues, goals, and key questions; (2) developing and implementing monitoring protocols, training approaches, and coordinated data collection; and, (3) managing and analyzing data, integrating with traditional ecological understanding through regional planning, and next steps. 

The monitoring results will be brought back to First Nations communities where it will be overlaid with TUS and understanding, and applied to the Nations’ policies for aspatial and spatial management of kelp. This understanding will be brought forward into collaborative governance of kelp of MaPP partners. We also discuss the importance of the regional perspective of the program, some of the challenges we encountered, and how we overcame them.  

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