Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Reaches Out to First Nations

In Canada, the indigenous peoples are known not as "Native Americans" or "Indians," but as the "First Nations." The First Nations in areas such as British Columbia have long depended on the ocean's natural resources. Their needs and local knowledge are now being taken into account as marine managers try to coordinate the many stakeholders relying on the ocean's bounty. In 2013, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation approved several grants to support the First Nations' marine spatial planning (MSP) efforts. (See Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation: Grants for Marine and Rivers.)

Not everyone has the same goals when it comes to the ocean. Fishermen, coastal developers, tourism operators, conservationists, and local communities often have conflicting visions for marine resources. The goal of MSP is to bring these disparate groups together and hash out an agreement. One of the most important steps in MSP is ensuring that everyone is invited to the table and has a voice. Fortunately, First Nations and local tribes have increasingly been invited to share their knowledge with the broader marine community.

The First Nations throughout British Columbia and the native tribes down the U.S. West Coast are working with local authorities and partnerships to have their voices heard. The Nanwakolas Council, bringing together the First Nations of Vancouver Island, has worked with the Moore Foundation since 2010. Together, they have engaged in marine planning at the local, territorial, and subregional level. The Coastal First Nations — an alliance of First Nations throughout British Columbia — also have received funding from the Moore Foundation to support MSP efforts. The Coastal First Nations have focused on local planning processes and have encouraged most of their First Nations communities to select a community coordinator to work with community fisheries groups, local boards, biologists, and socioeconomic planners. Finally, the Moore Foundation has supported Ecotrust's efforts to develop MSP capacity among the tribes in California, Oregon, and Washington.

The Moore Foundation promotes healthy marine ecosystems primarily through MSP and improved fisheries management. This focus, combined with its commitment to British Columbia and the U.S. West Coast, means the foundation will likely be partnering with First Nations and local tribes far into the future. The success of MSP depends on bringing all parties to the table, and this means not leaving the indigenous communities behind.