Building an economy in Gwaii Haanas Marine

  • Apr. 18, 2012 4:00 p.m.

Submitted by Emery Hartley, Julia Dullien, and Linnaea Fyles, students from the Haida Gwaii Semester–Economic opportunity and protected areas are not often considered in the same breath. The consultation process for the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site Management Plan is only just beginning but already opportunities are rising for the community to shape the future of this ecological jewel.As a research project for Case Studies in Haida Gwaii, the seminar course in the Haida Gwaii Semester, our group began investigating how a new marine management plan could enhance the economic wellbeing of the Haida Gwaii community. We focused on two primary areas of use that have great potential to generate more revenue for Haida Gwaii: tourism and fisheries. While these are not new industries for the islands, there are new challenges and opportunities that will arise with the new management plan.Before considering how economic development could happen in Gwaii Haanas Marine, we realized there were some theoretical hoops to jump through first, like getting to the roots of how Gwaii Haanas is perceived around the world. This required questioning perceptions, especially around that of Gwaii Haanas as a “wilderness.” Wilderness implies an uninhabited place that excludes humans, but a critical aspect of Gwaii Haanas is the long history of human use. Gwaii Haanas is a part of Haida Gwaii and a part of the people here, and so advertising it as “pristine” or “untouched” may be counterproductive in terms of building a new economy. Our group thought that telling a different story – one that places human use of resources as a critical part of Gwaii Haanas – could lead to a new kind of economy, where tourists understand commercial fishing as an important part of the area, rather than something that “ruins” it.Our research also indicated that more local benefits could be derived from the fishing sector in Gwaii Haanas Marine. The past several years have seen a steady decline in fisheries revenues returning to the islands, with canneries closing and more quotas being held by off island fishers. The new management plan for Gwaii Haanas could provide an opportunity for a new type of fisheries management; for example, for community-owned quotas.Community quotas, combined with a solid marine resources management plan, could allow local processing facilities to expand and provide more local jobs. In the past processing has been driven off island because of cost, but sustainably managed seafood has become a high-value product and sustainably certified products such as Alaskan salmon and Australian lobster routinely fetch preferential pricing and markets. Combining effective fisheries management with local extraction could create a product that would be certified as sustainable by an organization such as the Marine Stewardship Council, and that could have a high enough value to make local processing an economic reality.We boiled down all the research and reading we did to four points to be considered in the development of a new economy for Gwaii Haanas Marine: diverse, locally embedded, seasonally flexible, and interconnected sectors. Thanks to everyone who has given us a hand in our (many) projects and made this an unforgettable semester!

Just Posted

President and CEO leaving Coast Mountain College

Burt will say goodbye to CMNT come September

Marathon day on Haida Gwaii

Totem to Totem race looks to set another participation record

World’s largest animal spotted off coast of Haida Gwaii

Fisheries and Oceans Canada spotted the animal during their Science At-Sea mission

Two monumental poles return home to Haida Gwaii

The artifacts ended up in Vancouver by being taken, appropriated, stolen, or sold through the years

Northern B.C.’s Ridley coal terminal sold, Canada divests, First Nations to own portion

Ten per cent of shares transferred to the Lax Kw’alaams Band and the Metlakatla First Nation

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

CN train derailment between Terrace and Prince Rupert

The CN mainline is now open, following a train derailment

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Most Read