Tlowitsis Guardian Watchmen

A whole ecosystem

10 million

of culturally and environmentally significant ocean

Made by the coast,
for the coast

17 First

in partnership with the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada

In one of the richest cold-water
environments in the world

84 species
at risk

to be protected and conserved using traditional knowledge and science

Gitga’at Territory

We’ve always been involved with taking care of our resources. It would be easy for us if it was only about money, but there’s cultural and natural values out there that are worth more than money.

Harvey Humchitt – Heiltsuk Hereditary Chief

We’ve had lessons learned from the Great Bear Rainforest agreement and the implementation of that, and that’s changed our lives as far as on the terrestrial side of how things are protected.

Christopher Roberts – Wei Wai Kum Elected Chief Councillor
Da’naxda’xw First Nation: Guardians on patrol.

Great Bear Sea PFP

A Model for Stewardship, Conservation and Sustainable Economic Development

Covering two-thirds of the coast of British Columbia, the Great Bear Sea (also known as the Northern Shelf Bioregion) is one of the most environmentally and culturally significant cold-water environments in the world.

An ecological and cultural treasure, the Great Bear Sea is located off the North and Central Coasts of BC, including Haida Gwaii and the waters around northern Vancouver Island.

These waters support an incredible mix of habitats – open ocean, vibrant estuaries, dense kelp forests, expansive coral and sponge beds, and deep fjords–which, in turn, have sustained our coastal communities for thousands of years.

Today, overfishing, habitat loss, increased shipping traffic, and climate change are having an impact on the Great Bear Sea and contributing to declines in fish, bird, and shellfish populations – harming our coastal peoples and the wildlife that depend on a healthy ocean, and threatening a careful balance that First Nations have maintained for millennia.

To help address these challenges, First Nations are leading a groundbreaking initiative to establish the Great Bear Sea project finance for permanence (PFP) initiative, which is a model for long-term, large-scale conservation that brings partners, funding, and management plans together to support lasting protection of a region. Importantly, the vision for the Great Bear Sea PFP includes funding for stewardship and sustainable economic development.

Our Great Bear Sea PFP will build on the success of the Great Bear Rainforest agreements (2006) and will extend our vision for conservation and well-being from the forest into the sea, to create the world’s largest and most ecologically robust Indigenous-led, collaboratively developed ecosystem-based management initiative.

Impacts from the Great Bear Rainforest –
A Case Study

18 Guardian programs established

1,292 permanent jobs generated

138 businesses acquired and created

$418.8M in investments to the coast

Anticipated Benefits of the Great Bear Sea PFP –
A Win-Win Scenario

 new jobs

32,000 days of skills training

Restore and grow fish stocks

Contribute to global 30 by 30 conservation goals

The Great Bear Sea PFP will benefit coastal communities and economies, while protecting our shared environment.

Haida Nation: Rediscovery camp at T’aalan Stl’ang.

Marine Protected Area Network – An Action Plan

For over 10 years, First Nations have worked in partnership with the Government of British Columbia and the Government of Canada – and with the involvement of industry, community and local governments – to design a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which will designate levels of conservation and permissible industry activities in areas of importance. Leaders shared and endorsed the MPA Network Action Plan in February 2023, at the IMPAC5 marine conservation summit.

The MPA network covers 30 per cent of the Great Bear Sea, and includes new protected areas and enhancements to existing MPAs. Learn more about the MPA network and commercial fishing here.


Sea birds



Sea grass

Our MPA network will preserve and connect habitats for important species, including more than 80 species at risk.