Protecting Our Coast
Environmental stewardship is a crucial aspect of our work at BC Marine Trails. We value the incredibly diverse environment of the BC Coast and are committed to helping protect and preserve it for future generations. As we navigate this beautiful coastline, there are many ways that we can give back, taking care to leave sites in a better state than we found them. As an organization, we aim to provide the public with the information and tools needed to become respectful coastal stewards and caretakers.
Recently, the BC Marine Trails participated in a Outdoor Recreation Council of BC stewardship workshop and presented our ‘Stewardship In Action’ on Protecting our Coast programs. This is a video extracted from the workshop.
Site Condition Reports
Marine Code of Conduct
Welcome to the BC Marine Trails Code of Conduct. This page is dedicated to providing you with important information about responsible and respectful use of the British Columbia marine environment, and how you can help us preserve and protect it.
The BC Marine Trails Network encompasses over 25000 km of paddling routes along the BC coast, including access points, campsites, and more. As users of this network, we all have a responsibility to ensure that we use it in a sustainable manner, respecting the environment and other users.
To help ensure a positive experience for all, we have established a Code of Conduct. By following the Code, we can ensure that the BC Marine Trails Network remains a place of natural beauty and wonder, accessible to all who wish to experience it. We encourage you to share this Code with fellow paddlers and ocean enthusiasts, and help us spread the word about responsible and respectful use of marine environments. Together, we can make a difference!
Check out our two versions below to learn more.
We have a big goal: all BC coastal recreationists should be familiar with the Code and adopt best practices!
We offer workshops and presentations on the Code at schools, outfitters, businesses and more, with the hope of getting people more involved. If you would like us to conduct a workshop or presentation, please contact us through our Helpdesk or Contact webpage.
Code of Conduct Downloads:
BC Marine Trails (BCMT) wants to ensure minimal environmental impact by users at marine trail sites. Because sites are so widely dispersed and cannot have direct oversight, it is incumbent upon users to practice habits and behaviours that achieve minimal impact. By following the elements of this Code of Conduct, users can be assured their use of marine trail sites will lead to minimal environmental degradation. BCMT wants people to adopt practices leading to environmental sustainability for recreational uses of the British Columbia coast. We need to shift some generally accepted behaviours and rethink our habits. By carefully considering the consequences of our behaviours, understanding the implications of what we do and the ways in which we need to change, all users understanding and voluntarily adhering to the Code, are acknowledging their role and responsibility as marine stewards.
There are obvious benefits to the environment, but it goes much deeper, and ultimately affects the public’s ability to access the coast. BCMT has been working diligently with landowners, First Nations, land managers, neighbourhood groups and other stakeholders to ensure access to locations for marine trail use and public recreation. If users are not respectful of these locations, these permissions might be revoked and made more difficult for BCMT to obtain in the future when new sites are needed. The Code is intended to be proactive rather than reactive to avoid issues before they arise. If unsuccessful, retroactive measures will be necessary to restore habitats and protect environmental features. The Code, if successful, means restricted and intensely managed camping locations shouldn’t be necessary.
Compliance to the Code is voluntary. Most best practices are based on the principle that site degradation is gradual and invisible, and so while your single use in violation of the Code may be of little to no consequence, it is the cumulative damage the Code is attempting to address. Nature has a threshold to absorb impacts, naturally, but since that limit cannot be measured or monitored in most cases, the best practice is to ensure your individual use cannot in any way contribute to the cumulative damage that can and does result. Notably, aspects such as trampling are shown to cause damage at low levels of use, and so the case for one person being of no significance does not necessarily apply. The Code’s recommended best practices are backed by scientific research. BCMT will review the Code annually, so if you believe any element of the Code is flawed or requires review, please contribute to that process.
The Leave No Trace (LNT) principles are not designed for the British Columbia Coast or a marine environment in general. This means that principles that LNT uses may be suitable for alpine environments or along lengthy land trails, but are not the best practices for concentrated small-footprint coastal locations involving marine ecologies and sensitive nearshore terrestrial ecosystems. BCMT chose not to modify LNT principles but rather starts from scratch to address “subject areas” where recreational use would have impact. The BCMT approach was to research the underlying principles affecting those subject areas to establish best practices applicable to the BC coastal environment.
BCMT is acting on the principle that adverse effects, while inevitable, can be contained within a small and appropriate footprint, and largely minimized through proper use of the location. The BCMT goal is for sites to remain in as natural a state as possible. If users control wood burning, human waste, trampling and other behaviours that can lead to site degradation, as outlined in the Code, we can achieve that goal.
The Code is applicable to any coastal visit to a location outside of a managed or regulated structure, such as a provincial park, where the park rules would apply instead. This means hundreds of marine trail sites on Crown (public) land that have no formal designation and so are outside of any management, maintenance or oversight structure to ensure that site’s wellbeing. The Marine Trail Code of Conduct is meant to fill that gap through directing proper behaviour.
The Code is the general outline. BCMT will be supporting the Code with a robust Public Education Program to provide additional resources to help coastal visitors successfully implement the various aspects outlined in the Code. Please be patient — this is a huge project, and we have only just begun to tackle how to go about helping everyone rethink how to approach recreational use of the BC coast.