Gwaii Haanas Draft Management Plan to Increase Marine Protected Areas to 40%

32 Haida mortuary poles at SG̱ang Gwaay, Gwaii Haanas. Photo by Dale Simonson.

A draft of the new management plan for Gwaii Haanas was released in mid-June by the Archipelago Management Board (AMB). Gina ‘Waadlux̲an KilG̲uhlG̲a (Talking About Everything), a land-sea-people management plan, aims to protect Gwaii Haanas’ ecological and cultural values while ensuring that the livelihoods of Haida members are protected.

One of the most significant changes is an increase in the amount of marine protected areas from three to 40 per cent.

Cindy Boyko represents the Council of the Haida Nation on the AMB and says she believes in the plan. “It maintains our Haida right to use Gwaii Haanas like we always have and, in addition, protects over 40 per cent of the ocean which the area hasn’t had until now,” Boyko said at a recent community meeting.

The 10-year draft management plan is guided by six principles aligned with the principles of ecosystem-based management. They are:

Kayakers launch their vessels as they set off to tour Gwaii Haanas. Photo by Dale Simonson.
  • Yahguudang—Respect
  • ‘Laa guu ga kanhllns—Responsibility
  • Gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagid—Interconnectedness
  • Giid tlljuus—Balance
  • Gina k’aadang.nga gii uu tll k’anguudang—Seeking Wise Counsel
  • Isda ad dii gii isda—Giving and Receiving

The Gwaii Haanas area, both land and sea, was first designated in 1985 by the Haida Nation as a Haida Heritage Site. Canada and British Columbia subsequently committed to protect Gwaii Haanas through the designation of a national park reserve and a surrounding marine protected area. The Gwaii Haanas Agreement was signed in 1993. In 2010, the Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement was signed and stated that:

The Gwaii Haanas Marine Area shall be regarded with the highest degree of respect and will be managed in an ecologically sustainable manner that meets the needs of present and future generations, without compromising the structure and function of the ecosystems.

The draft management plan sets out the vision and management direction for a single ecosystem of interconnected land, sea and people and aims to achieve the following goals over ten years:

  1. Implement effective collaboration for planning and management.
  2. Protect, conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystems.
  3. Support the continuity of Haida culture.
  4. Foster ecologically sustainable resource use that benefits Haida Gwaii communities
  5. Advance knowledge and understanding of Gwaii Haanas.
  6. Enhance public awareness of and appreciation for Gwaii Haanas.
  7. Facilitate opportunities for meaningful visitor experiences.

The draft plan was developed by the Archipelago Management Board with technical planners from the Council of the Haida Nation, Parks Canada, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It incorporates advice from the Gwaii Haanas Advisory Committee, and groups including Haida fisherman, tour operators, commercial fishermen, and environmental organizations. The plan is in a public consultation period until July 15, 2018.

To view the ‘Waadlux̲an KilG̲uhlG̲a (Talking About Everything) Land-Sea-People Management Plan and learn more about Gwaii Haanas download the draft plan here or visit Parks Canada.