Pacific Region

The Pacific Working Group, based at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia, is studying human well-being in the face of social-ecological change in Canada’s Pacific Ocean coastal communities. Members of our Working Group have partnered with local communities to conduct policy-relevant research on social-ecological interactions in coastal ocean areas to support marine spatial planning. Research themes include assessing social values of community and coastal resource users and understanding the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem valuation. Collectively, our research is generating a better understanding of the socio-cultural, economic and ecological challenges facing coastal communities. We are linking with industry stakeholders and integrating academic research with on-the-ground adaptive management.

In addition to our formal SSHRC partners, Port Metro Vancouver is a project collaborator, and Vancouver Island University is an informal associate of the Pacific Working Group.

Activities 2019-2020

In the past year, our main activities have continued to focus on supporting work on the topic of access through the work of post-doctoral fellow Dr. Nathan Bennett, and by supporting the access cross-cutting theme. With partner T. Buck Suzuki Foundation and numerous collaborators, we worked with two Mitacs interns (Dacotah Splichalova and Anna Schubauer) to develop and implement a survey about access and well-being of owner-operator commercial fishers in BC. We obtained more than 100 responses throughout the province, carried out initial analyses, and communicated the findings to several fisher forums. Reports and manuscripts are being prepared from the results of these surveys. The small grants we provided to students during the first half of OCB in the Pacific region continue to bring research to fruition. In particular, two PhD students, Rachelle Beveridge and Charlotte Whitney, finished PhD research and dissertations. We are also supporting several new HQP to complete publications on topics pertinent to the OceanCanada Partnership.

Activities 2018-2019

In the past year, the main activities of the Pacific WG have continued to mainly focus on supporting work on the topic of access through the work of post-doctoral fellow Dr. Nathan Bennett. While several of the smaller projects of past years have been completed, progress on analysis, writing, outreach and publishing the results from them continues. In particular, two of our HQP (Rachelle Beveridge and Charlotte Whitney) have continued to advance their PhD research and dissertations, and several other members (Edward Gregr and Tom Okey) have published recent papers stemming from their work. We will also be hosting a final workshop focused on MPAs involving members of the Pacific WG. Many members of the Pacific WG attended the OceanCanada annual conference in Halifax in August 2018, as did our NGO partner, Ecotrust Canada, who has likewise focused on the theme of access within the context of community well-being. They completed the multi-year report “Just Transactions, Just Transitions” and published the Proceedings Report from the 2018 Fisheries for Communities Gathering. They continued to bring forward issues around, and barriers to, access in forums and presentations.

Activities 2017-2018

This past year, the Pacific WG has focused its efforts and funding on supporting the Access cross-cutting theme in two ways: by providing partial funding support for a postdoctoral fellowship for Nathan Bennett, and by supporting the workshop that the Access CCT held in Vancouver in June 2017, and research and a workshop co-hosted by Natalie Ban on the social impacts of MPAs. Progress also continues on small projects by WG members. A few examples include:

  • a survey questionnaire, sampling plan, and data analysis plan on purchasing seafood in selected Canadian cities to measure consumer preferences related to certain seafood features. The main objective of the survey will be to contribute to assessing the market feasibility of developing and growing alternative seafood businesses in BC and elsewhere in Canada;
  • continued work on issues of access, community well-being, and fishermen and community viability. A key milestone was the convening of fisheries and community stakeholders on Pacific access issues;
  • understanding the effects of sea otter reestablishment on ecosystem service benefits derived by coastal communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island;
  • continued coordination of the Local Environmental Observer (LEO) Network in Coastal British Columbia (, which is enabling diverse knowledge holders to share observations of unusual environmental change.

Activities 2016-2017

This year, the Pacific Working Group made steady progress with ongoing projects which began to yield results, presentations and publications. Our approach has been to support projects and case studies that advance OceanCanada themes. We supported three new projects in 2016/2017, and others continued. Combined, these projects illustrate the diversity of perspectives and topics related to the oceans in BC, and provide a richness of case studies for future OceanCanada-wide integrative activities. We explored opportunities for linking with the three Cross-Cutting Themes and facilitating more integrative thinking at larger scales. More specifically, we did preliminary work to organize an Access Cross-Cutting Theme workshop for June 2017.

Our research activities have been in the following areas:

  • marine community support for conservation;
  • effects of sea otter reestablishment on the ecosystem in communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island;
  • loss, recovery and stewardship of eulachon on the central Pacific coast of BC;
  • local benefits from seafood value chains in BC coastal communities;
  • ecological indicators, expert perceptions, and local observations;
  • assessing changes in rockfish size and distribution for conservation strategies;
  • moving from assessment to action on adaptive capacity.

Activities 2015-2016

The Pacific Working Group continued to support graduate student projects that involve local communities and industry stakeholders in conducting policy-relevant research investigating human well-being in the face of social-ecological change in Pacific coastal communities. It provided research funds to students through two calls for proposals. One of the funded projects resulted in two graduate students hosting a workshop in November 2015 on adaptive capacity which led to a publication relevant to the broader OceanCanada partnership. In addition, Working Group members presented at various conferences and had numerous publications related to OCP objectives.


Natalie Ban (Co-Lead), University of Victoria (view video)
Nathan Bennett (Co-Lead), University of British Columbia
Dyhia Belhabib, Ecotrust
Edward Gregr, University of British Columbia
Tom Okey, University of Victoria
Evelyn Pinkerton, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Natalie Ban: Pacific Working Group Co-Lead

Highly Qualified Personnel

Nathan Bennett
Understanding coastal and Indigenous community access to marine resources and the ocean, governance and management of marine protected areas, and coastal community responses to combined environmental and social changes.
Rachelle Beveridge
Loss and recovery of the eulachon: a case study of central coast stewardship priorities and perspectives
Charlotte Whitney
Measures of adaptive capacity for social-ecological systems in response to climate impacts.


The COVID-19 Pandemic, Small-Scale Fisheries and Coastal Fishing Communities
Supporting early career researchers: insights from interdisciplinary marine scientists
Towards a sustainable and equitable blue economy
The Thriving Coastal Communities Initiative
Well-being outcomes of marine protected areas.
Local support for conservation is associated with perceptions of good governance, social impacts, and ecological effectiveness
A modelling approach to assess the impact of land mining on marine biodiversity: assessment in coastal catchments experiencing catastrophic events (SW Brazil).
Distributional impacts of fisheries subsidies and their reform: case studies from Senegal and Vietnam
Reconciling social justice and ecosystem-based management in the wake of a successful predator reintroduction.
Marine social science for the peopled seas.
National contributions to global ecosystem values.
In political seas: engaging with political ecology in the ocean and coastal environment
Synergies on the coast: challenges facing shellfish aquaculture development on the central and north coast of British Columbia.
Just transactions, just transitions: Towards truly sustainable fisheries in British Columbia
Expanding the role of social science in conservation through an engagement with philosophy, methodology, and methods.
Indicators of marine ecosystem integrity for Canada’s Pacific: An expert-based hierarchical approach
Incorporate Indigenous perspectives for impactful research and effective management.
Environmental governance: A practical framework to guide design, evaluation, and analysis
Achieving the promise of integration in social-ecological research: a review and prospectus
Realizing the transformative potential of conservation through the social sciences, arts and humanities
The dark side of transformation: Latent risks in contemporary sustainability discourse
Why less complexity produces better forecasts: an independent data evaluation of kelp habitat models
Navigating a just and inclusive path towards sustainable oceans.
How just and just how? A systematic review of social equity in conservation research.
Diving back in time: extending historical baselines for Yelloweye rockfish with Indigenous knowledge.
Assessing trade-offs in large marine protected areas.
Assessing Guinea Bissau’s legal and illegal unreported and unregulated fisheries and the surveillance efforts to tackle them.
Addressing criticisms of large-scale Marine Protected Areas.
Can ecosystem services make conservation normal and commonplace?
Environmental stewardship: a conceptual review and analytical framework.
Indigenous peoples’ rights and marine protected areas.
Coastal and Indigenous community access to marine resources and the ocean: a policy imperative for Canada.
Human dimensions of large-scale marine protected areas: advancing research and practice.
Indigenous knowledge as data for modern fishery management: a case study of Dungeness crab in Pacific Canada
Adaptive capacity: from assessment to action in coastal social-ecological systems.
Exploring trade-offs in climate change response in the context of Pacific Island fisheries.
How can climate predictions improve sustainability of coastal fisheries in Pacific Small-Island Developing States?
Reconstructing overfishing: moving beyond Malthus for effective and equitable solutions.
Why people matter in ocean governance: incorporating human dimensions into large-scale marine protected areas.
Equity trade-offs in conservation decision making.
Large marine protected areas represent biodiversity now and under climate change.
Conservation actions at global and local scales in marine social-ecological systems: status, gaps, and ways forward.
Catching sea cucumber fever in coastal communities: conceptualizing the impacts of shocks versus trends for social-ecological systems.
A social-ecological systems approach to assessing conservation and fisheries outcomes in Fijian locally managed marine areas.
Towards the economic viability of local seafood programs: Key features for the financial performance of community supported fisheries
Linking ecosystem processes to communities of practice through commercially fished species in the Gulf of Alaska.
Effectiveness of shore-based remote camera monitoring for quantifying recreational fisher compliance in marine conservation areas.
Social and ecological effectiveness of large marine protected areas.
An appeal for a code of conduct for marine conservation.
Cumulative effects of environmental change on culturally significant ecosystems in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.
Conservation social science: understanding and integrating human dimensions to improve conservation.
Hegemony and resistance: disturbing patterns and hopeful signs in the impact of neoliberal policies on small-scale fisheries around the world.
Strategies for assertion of conservation and local management rights: A Haida Gwaii herring story
Participation and resistance: alternative seafood marketing in a neoliberal era.
Building towards the marine conservation end-game: consolidating the role of MPAs in a future ocean.
Identifying potential marine climate change refugia: A case study in Canada’s Pacific marine ecosystems
Mainstreaming the social sciences in conservation.
Synthesizing theories of natural resource management and governance.
Imprecise and weakly assessed: evaluating voluntary measures for management of marine protected areas
Using perceptions as evidence to improve conservation and environmental management.
Interplay of multiple goods, ecosystem services, and property rights in large social-ecological marine protected areas.
Identifying best practices in fisheries monitoring and stewardship training for First Nations youth
Linking classroom learning and research to advance ideas about social-ecological resilience.
The role of aboriginal peoples in protected areas.
Community-based scenario planning: a process for vulnerability analysis and adaptation planning to social–ecological change in coastal communities
Communities and change in the anthropocene: understanding social-ecological vulnerability and planning adaptations to multiple interacting exposures
A framework for understanding climate change impacts on coral reef social–ecological systems.
Cumulative effects of planned industrial development and climate change on marine ecosystems
Adaptive governance to promote ecosystem services in urban green spaces.
Advancing marine cumulative effects mapping: An update in Canada’s Pacific waters
Secure sustainable seafood from developing countries.
Efficient and equitable design of marine protected areas in Fiji through inclusion of stakeholder-specific objectives in conservation planning.
Participation in devolved commons management: Multiscale socioeconomic factors related to individuals’ participation in community-based management of marine protected areas in Indonesia
Managing small-scale commercial fisheries for adaptive capacity: insights from dynamic social-ecological drivers of change in Monterey Bay
Understanding protected area resilience: a multi-scale, social-ecological approach.
Pacific Canada’s Rockfish Conservation Areas: using Ostrom’s design principles to assess management effectiveness


YearPresented byPresentation TitleLocation
2019Ban, N.People in ecology. Pacific Ecology and Evolution Conference.Bamfield, BC.
2019Ban, N.Marine conservation research on BC’s central coast: Indigenous-academic partnerships. Outer Shores Expeditions Symposium. Victoria, BC.
2019Bennett, N.In peopled seas: Catalyzing insights from the marine social sciences in the ocean sustainability agenda. University of British ColumbiaVancouver, BC
2019Bennett, N.Using perceptions as evidence in sustainability science. IRES Seminar Series. University of British ColumbiaVancouver, BC
2018Ban, N.Breaking down disciplinary boundaries: opportunities and challenges in inter- and trans-disciplinary research. Pacific Estuarine Research Society ConferenceEverett, WA
2018Ban, N.Brief on MPAs. Canadian House of Commons standing committee on fisheries and oceansOttawa, ON.
2018Ban, N.Brief on Oceans Act Marine Protected Areas. Presentation to: Canadian House of Commons standing committee on fisheries and oceansOttawa, ON.
2018Ban, N.Integrating Indigenous and scientific knowledge in marine conservation. Parks Canada Agency EcoWebinar.Online
2018Ban, N.Marine conservation, fisheries management, and Indigenous rights. Paper presented at: University of Victoria's Dean's Lecture SeriesVictoria, BC.
2018Ban, N.My own journey to becoming a professor, and some reflections/advice. Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response Network Annual Scientific Meeting Montreal, QC.
2018Ban, N.A social-ecological systems perspective of rapid change. Coastal Watersheds in the Anthropocene: Understanding Rapid Change and Implication for People and Ecosystems University of Waterloo, ON.
2018Ban, N; Eckert, L.Cultural revitalization as a means of moving beyond a social-ecological trap. Resilience ConferenceStockholm, Sweden
2018Bennett, N.Fast change and social-ecological regime shifts: for whom and how does the bell toll? Catching Ripples in the Water: A Social-Ecological Approach to Understand Abrupt Changes in Coastal Watersheds and Craft Governance Responses. University of WaterlooWaterloo, ON.
2018Bennett, N.Coastal and Indigenous community access to marine resources in Canada. Paper presented at: Salish Sea Ecosystem ConferenceSeattle, WA.
2018Bennett, N.How can the social sciences improve conservation? International Congress for Conservation Biology, Society for Conservation BiologyCarrtagena, Columbia.
2018Gregr, EJ; Martone, R; Chan, KMA.Sea otters and kelp forests: real and potential transformations in blue carbon and resilience. Global Marine Science Summit, University of North CarolinaWilmington, NC.
2018Kaplan-Hallam M; Bennett, N.Adaptive social impact management for conservation and environmental management. International Congress for Conservation Biology, Society for Conservation BiologyCarrtagena, Columbia.
2018Whitney, C; Ban, NC.Perceptions of the influence of climate change on marine spatial planning in coastal social-ecological systems. Resilience ConferenceStockholm, Sweden.
2017Ban, N.Applied conservation research. Pacific Ecology and Evolution Conference Bamfield, BC.
2017Ban, N.Applying empirical estimates of marine protected area effectiveness. Annual Meeting of the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas Saint John, NB.
2017Ban, N.Marine protected areas and indigenous rights. Duke University, Beaufort Marine Laboratory Durham, NC.
2017Ban, N; Ban, SS; Alidina, HM; Okey TA.A rapid approach for identifying potential marine climate change refugia: A case study in Canada’s Pacific marine ecosystems. International Marine Conservation Congress St John’s, NL.
2017Ban, N; Ban, SS; Alidina, HM; Okey, TA; Gregg, RM.Identifying potential marine climate change refugia in Canada's Pacific. Salish Sea Conference Vancouver, BC.
2017Ban, N; Burt, JM; Atkins, P; Latham, E; Beck, M; Salomon, AK.Marine protected area network design features that support resilient human-ocean systems: applications for British Columbia, Canada. International Marine Conservation Congress St John’s, NL.
2017Ban, N; Davies TE; Aguilera SE; Brooks C; Cox MEpstein G; Evans LS; Maxwell S.; Global assessment of the governance effectiveness of large-scale MPAs. International Marine Conservation Congress St John’s, NL.
2017Ban, N; Frid A.Community-academic research partnerships to support MSP implementation: example from British Columbia, Canada. International Marine Conservation Congress St John’s, NL.
2017Ban, N; Jacob AL; Cripps K; Darimont CT; Silver JM; Wood SA.Managing shellfish aquaculture and nature-based tourism in BC's Great Bear Sea. International Marine Conservation Congress St John’s, NL.
2017Bennett, N.Conservation social science: understanding and integrating human dimensions to improve local to global conservation policy and practice. Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) Seminar Series (UBC) Vancouver, BC.
2017Bennett, N.Making real progress on marine protected areas in Canada. All Party Ocean Caucus Ottawa, ON.
2017Bennett N; Alexander S; Klain S; Pittman J.Contributions of perceptions to evidence-based marine conservation and management. International Marine Conservation Congress St John’s, NL.
2017Gregr, EJ; Martone, R; Chan, KMA.How sea otters are changing coastal ecosystem services: abundance, habitats, and trade-offs. West Coast Aquatic Management Board Port Alberni, BC.
2017Milko, H.Identifying best practices in fisheries monitoring and stewardship training for First Nations Youth. Paper presented at: at OceanCanadaConference Vancouver, BC.
2017Milko, H; Pinkerton, E.Dilemmas in First Nations' monitoring of LNG developments on the Skeena River Watershed. Salish Sea Conference Vancouver, BC.
2017Olmsted, P.Social impact investing for ecological conservation. Salish Sea Conference Vancouver, BC.
2017Whitney, C; Bennett, N.Adaptive capacity: from assessment to action in social-ecological systems. Salish Sea Conference Vancouver, BC.
2016Ban, N.Enhancing ecosystem resilience: integrating social and natural sciences through marine historical ecology. Annual Scientific Meeting of the Marine Environmental Observation and Prediction network Vancouver, BC.
2016Ban, N.Identifying marine refugia. Fisheries and Oceans Canada at the Institute of Ocean SciencesSidney BC, and at Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, BC.
2016Ban, N.Introduction to Community Conservation Research Network: my research interests and networks. Community Conservation Research Network Annual Meeting Tofino, BC.
2016Ban, N; Cox M; Davies T; Epstein, G; Evans, LS; Nenadovic, M; Maxwell, S; Brooks, C; Aguilera, S.Governing large-scale social-ecological systems: marine protected areas. International Association for the Study of the Commons conference Edmonton, AB.
2016Milko, H.Keeping the next generation on the water: opportunities and barriers to continuing Aboriginal engagement with the ocean in northern British Columbia. International Association for the Study of the Commons Conference Edmonton, AB.
2016Milko, H.Moving beyond "observe, record, report"? Aboriginal resource guardian programs as an alternative model of marine governance. Canadian Association of Geographers Annual General Meeting Vancouver, BC.
2016Olmstead, P.Enhancing stewardship through monetary mechanisms? A new approach for Conservation Finance. Canadian and US Societies for Ecological Economics Conference Vancouver, BC.