Historical and contemporary indigenous marine conservation strategies in the North Pacific
Strategies to reduce, halt, and reverse global declines in marine biodiversity are needed urgently. We reviewed, coded, and synthesized historical and contemporary marine conservation strategies of the Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nation in British Columbia, Canada, to show how their approaches work. We assessed whether the conservation actions classification system by the Conservation Measures Partnership was able to encompass this nation's conservation approaches. All first‐order conservation actions aligned with the Kitasoo/Xai'xais First Nation's historical and contemporary marine conservation actions; hereditary chief management responsibility played a key role. A conservation ethic permeates Kitasoo/Xai'xais culture, and indigenous resource management and conservation existed historically and remains strong despite extreme efforts by colonizers to suppress all indigenous practices. The Kitasoo/Xai'xais's embodiment of conservation actions as part of their worldview, rather than as requiring actions separate from everyday life (the norm in nonindigenous cultures), was missing from the conservation action classification system. The Kitasoo/Xai'xais are one of many indigenous peoples working to revitalize their governance and management authorities. With the Canadian government's declared willingness to work toward reconciliation, there is an opportunity to enable First Nations to lead on marine and other conservation efforts. Global conservation efforts would also benefit from enhanced support for indigenous conservation approaches, including expanding the conservation actions classification to encompass a new category of conservation or sacredness ethic.