The Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast – MaPP: A collaborative and co-led marine planning process in British Columbia.


For more than a decade, marine spatial planning has been used around the world to advance objectives for conservation, economic development, and ecosystem-based management. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) in British Columbia began with the development of land use plans in the 1990s to address coastal and land use issues related to terrestrial land management. Managing marine resources is challenging on Canada’s Pacific coast because of multiple, overlapping jurisdictions, unceded indigenous territories, and lack of coordination amongst governments in the region and their agencies. The Marine Plan Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP) was formed in 2011 and was a co-led partnership between 18 First Nations’ and the Province of British Columbia governments. The purpose of the MaPP Initiative was to develop and implement marine plans for 102,000 square kilometers of coastal and offshore water in northern British Columbia. A co-led governance framework included the member First Nations and the Provincial government structured into multiple levels of decisions making, conflict resolution, and technical support. Integral to the planning process was broad and continual stakeholder engagement through multiple advisory committees as well as public engagement. The planning process made use of multiple information sources including traditional, scientific, and local knowledge and was completed in 3.5 years. The result was the development and signing into policy of four sub-regional marine plans (one for each of the four MaPP sub-regions: Haida Gwaii, North Coast, Central Coast, and North Vancouver Island) and a Regional Action Framework. The sub-regional plans delineate protection, special, and general management zones for multiple objectives and will inform future policy decisions for marine protected areas, tenures, resource management and coastal development through an EBM approach. The plans will inform permits for marine tenures including aquaculture, offshore renewable energy siting, contribute to Canada’s marine protected areas network, and improve coastal infrastructure. The Regional Action Framework highlights activities to occur across the entire region through five main activity areas (Regional Governance, Ecological Integrity and Human Well-being, Compliance and Enforcement, Cumulative Effects Assessment, and Zoning Recommendations). Funding for planning was through a public-private model that also supported the development of the plans and decision support tools (e.g. planning and mapping portal). Discussions regarding implementation began during the planning phase to ensure long-term commitment from the Partners and continuity to improve decision making and management within the MaPP area. The process design and methodology created by MaPP can be a model for planning in areas that involve multiple authorities, complex geographies and jurisdictional arrangements that can be scaled up for regional, cross border, and transboundary marine spatial planning.

June 2020
Application in MSP: 
Unknown effect
Not sector specific
Type of Issue: 
Coexistence of uses
Economic aspects
Ecosystem-based approach
Social aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Vision and aims
Analyse spatial aspects

Questions this practice may help answer: 

  • How has ecosystem-based management been considered in British Columbia? 
  • What was the planning methodology of the MaPP Initiative?  
  • What are the key concepts to consider in MSP?  

Implementation Context: 

The MaPP Initiative (a project of Tides Canada Initiatives Society, developed in 2011) aimed to develop and implement marine plans for coastal and offshore waters of northern British Columbia. 

Aspects / Objectives: 

The article aims to provide an overview of the Marine Plan Partnership Initiative, as well as regional and subregional planning processes developed in this framework.  


The study provides an overview of the MSP process and describes the MaPP project, including its context, planning methodology and stakeholders' engagement process. The study also provides insights to the key aspects of the MSP process such as leadership, scope and communication.  

Main Outputs / Results: 

The study highlights four key lessons learned from the MaPP Initiative, which aim at guiding similar MSP policies to ensure their effectiveness.  


The recommendations provided in this study can be useful in other MSP processes.  

Responsible Entity: 

Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative (Canada).

Costs / Funding Source: 

Coastal First Nation-Great Bear Initiative (Canada). 

Contact person: 

Steve Diggon: