Integrated Ocean Management in Canada is described as involving comprehensive planning and management of human activities to minimize conflicts among users. It is further characterized as a collective approach that cannot be forced on anyone. It is flexible, transparent, and respectful of existing divisions of constitutional and departmental authority, and Aboriginal rights. The principles guiding Integrated Management include sustainable development, the Precautionary Approach, conservation, shared responsibility, flexibility, inclusiveness and Ecosystem-Based Management.
The “Integrated Oceans Management Plan for the Beaufort Sea: 2009 and beyond” (the IOMP) is the result of several years of planning efforts undertaken by Aboriginal, Territorial and Federal government departments, management bodies, and northern coastal community residents with interests in the Beaufort Sea. Industry, non-governmental organizations, academia and other interested parties. All these organizations have agreed to collaborate in the decision making processes that will influence the future of the Beaufort Sea region. It is also a demonstration of Canada’s commitment to sound management of Arctic marine and coastal resources. The purpose of the Plan is to achieve the full vision of the IOMP while streamlining existing decision-making processes, and to guide and coordinate future activities during the implementation phase, especially as they pertain to development in the Beaufort Sea.
The intent of this IOMP is to consider all users of the Beaufort Sea resources and marine environment, as well as the interactions among human activities and between those activities and the marine environment. The IOMP is not intended as an additional layer of regulation but rather as an opportunity for integrating the common goals of the various management partners. The IOMP acknowledges and recognizes previous work in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) such as the Community Conservation Plans and Fisheries Management Plans and efforts between the Inuvialuit and Inupiat to produce a plan regarding the management of beluga whales that move across international boundaries.
The intended outcomes of working together on the implementation of the Beaufort Sea IOMP are:
- Increased cooperation across departments, governments and other organizations;
- Better integrated responses to cross-cutting issues;
- Better and more timely collection of information on key risks and their relationship to programs and values;
- Ongoing measurement of the actual effects of policies, programs and operations;
- Identification of areas of shared responsibility; and
- Greater accountability for management of shared responsibilities.
In the Media
The Integrated Ocean Management Plan for the Beaufort Sea (IOMP) process moved through four general stages to prepare and endorse this IOMP: 1-Defining and assessing the planning area; 2-Engaging partners and other interests; 3-Developing the IOMP itself; and 4-Endorsing the IOMP. As of 2009, we are in stage 5-Implementing the IOMP. The final stage will be 6-Monitoring and Evaluating Outcomes. Each stage is described below.
1.) Defining and assessing the planning area
After securing general agreement on the need for a plan, stakeholders needed to know the current status and trends of the Beaufort Sea’s ecosystem in order to determine what impacts human activities might have on that ecosystem. An ecological assessment was conducted to compile available science and Traditional Knowledge (TK) of the area. The completed Ecosystem Overview and Assessment Report (EOAR) (Cobb et al., 2008) describes areas and activities that need priority actions. A key part of the EOAR was the identification of Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) in the Beaufort Sea.
The Social, Cultural and Economic (SCE) Working Group documented the baseline conditions and objectives for communities in the ISR and contributed their findings to the IOMP. A Social, Cultural and Economic Overview and Assessment Report (SCEOAR) has been completed for the Large Ocean Management Area (LOMA). It serves as a valuable source of information on key SCE conditions, issues and objectives for the integrated management process. In addition, the document contains an abundance of information on the organizations and processes involved in the integrated management of the Beaufort Sea LOMA.
2.) Engaging partners and other interests
The Regional Coordination Committee (RCC), the Beaufort Sea Partnership (BSP) and Working Groups have been very active organizing community tours and a series of workshops and meetings. The IOMP is based on input and advice from the participants in those processes. A Beaufort Sea e-Forum served as a repository for workshop reports and minutes of meetings/consultations, and offered stakeholders the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on draft documents.
3.) Developing the Integrated Management Plan for the Beaufort Sea
Draft IOMPs were circulated for comment in March 2008, and January/February 2009, and extensive feedback was solicited through workshops, meetings and over the Internet. The RCC met from March 30 to April 2, 2009 to review the draft IOMP, provide direction on its finalization and the transition from IOMP development to implementation.
4.) Endorsing the Plan
The IOMP was endorsed on June 4th, 2009 by all the RCC members (i.e. DFO, IRC, IGC, YG, GNWT, FJMC, NRCan, INAC, EC, PCA, and TC) and was supported by the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, on August 27, 2010.
5.) Implementing the Plan
Regional Coordination Committee
Endorsement of the IOMP by the RCC demonstrates a commitment to implementation through a collaborative approach in accordance with government mandates, priorities and capacities for ocean management. Aboriginal, Federal, Territorial and municipal governments may use both internal and external mechanisms to formalize and carry out their commitments under the IOMP. Participating departments and bodies may incorporate elements of the IOMP and their relevant provisions in their policy, program and planning documents.
Beaufort Sea Partnership
The Beaufort Sea Partnership continues to provide a forum for sharing information about activities and interests in the Beaufort Sea LOMA, serving as a network for determining new areas for collaboration, as well as for preventing duplication of efforts by increasing awareness of current and upcoming initiatives in the LOMA. Partnership organizations and Working Groups are involved in work planning activities. Finally, the RCC continues to use the BSP as a sounding board for analyzing complex management issues and providing recommendations to the RCC on strategies for implementing the IOMP.
The completion of the IOMP provides the general strategic direction that will be realized through development and implementation of detailed work plans. These are being developed cooperatively under the leadership of the organizations identified for specific objectives and in the IOMP, through the BSP. Organizations that were not engaged in the development of the IOMP may become involved during work planning and implementation.
6.) Monitoring and Evaluating Outcomes
Successful implementation of the IOMP requires an effective and comprehensive program for performance evaluation and reporting. There are four main interrelated components of an effective performance evaluation and reporting program:
- Assessing plan outcomes;
- Assessing plan performance;
- Reporting; and
- IOMP review and renewal.
The RCC maintains overall responsibility for performance evaluation and reporting, supported by the Beaufort Sea Planning Secretariat and in consultation with the BSP.