Landmark marine protection for Gwaii Haanas

  • Jun. 7, 2010 8:00 p.m.

The federal government announced Monday that it plans to create a marine protected area around Gwaii Haanas. Environment Minister Jim Prentice tabled an amendment in the House of Commons to formally establish the area as Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. He said the amendment is the first time a national marine conservation area has been established under the Canadian National Marine Conservation Act.”Today’s milestone is the result of an historic and outstanding collaborative partnership between the Government of Canada and the Haida Nation,” Mr. Prentice said. He will be arriving on Haida Gwaii Friday and staying over the weekend, but has no public events scheduled. The area to be protected will extend 10 kilometres from the existing Gwai Haanas boundaries and will extend the protected area so that it will include 5,0000 square kilometers, from mountain tops to the deep sea.”Times change, and we are beginning to appreciate the fragility and preciousness of our marine areas,” said Guujaaw, president of the Council of the Haida Nation, which co-manages the protected area with Canada. He added it is critical to look after and restore our oceans. In Ottawa, the New Democrats supported the amendment, saying they would help fast-track its passage in the Commons so it could become law in the next two weeks. Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said Gwaii Haanas is one of Canada’s most remarkable gems. He invited all Members of Parliament to visit, and also said we should remember the Haida’s activism.”Canadians must also pay tribute to the courage and dedication of the Haida and the people of Haida Gwaii, who have led this process from the beginning, Mr. Cullen said. “Special recognition must also go to the Council of Haida Nations and to its president Guujaaw, who has embodied Haida pride and a traditional and unique sense of Haida hero-city throughout”.Darcy Dobell, vice-president of Pacific conservation with World Wildlife Federation Canada, also applauded the announcement. “We’re definitely excited about the designation,” she said. “It’s definitely a landmark for oceans management.”