Good morning, everybody. The sun isn't even up here in Haida Gwaii yet, but it's always a great opportunity to provide some perspective on behalf of my nation and here on the west coast of British Columbia.
My name is kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, and I am the president and official spokesperson for the Haida Nation. The Haida Nation supports Bill C-55. We have a unique experience to share, having established two protected areas in the ocean portion of our territory, and later, jointly working to manage these areas with the Government of Canada. We will also propose changes to strengthen the bill to protect Haida interests and rights, but before I do that, I want to provide a brief introduction to Haida Gwaii and to the Haida Nation.
The Haida Nation's territory includes the islands of Haida Gwaii, the surrounding waters, which include the entire Dixon Entrance; a half of Hecate Strait, north and south; Queen Charlotte Sound, halfway to Vancouver Island; and westward beyond the 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
The land and sea of Haida Gwaii has been our homeland since time immemorial. Haida oral traditions tell of our origin from the oceans surrounding Haida Gwaii. As an elder said, “We came out of the ocean all over Haida Gwaii. We can point to it and say this is where our ancestors came out of the ocean.”
Our name for these islands, Haida Gwaii, means “islands of the people”. Living in this territory of more than 150 islands, we are never far from the ocean in our daily lives. More than 25% of the island's interior is within one kilometre of salt water, and no place is further than 20 kilometres from the sea. We have over 4,000 kilometres of inlet and island shorelines. The seamless sea to mountaintop connection is an integral part of the Haida heritage and cultural identity.
The influence of the ocean on the land base of Haida Gwaii is pervasive in Haida life, culture, and history. Every Haida village is carefully selected, based on the abundance of seafood and its marine geography. Well-protected harbours are selected for year-round or winter sites, and more exposed locations for seasonal summer camps. The bounty of the sea provides many Haida foods and medicines. Sea creatures, from the most common to the supernatural, figure prominently in Haida art, design, and our family crests.
For all of these reasons, the protection of our marine territory and the species within our marine territories has been one of the key mandates of the Council of the Haida Nation since our inception over 40 years ago now, in 1974. Haida designations of protected areas, such as Gwaii Haanas, Duu Guusd, and Sgaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount, as well as provincial conservatories, were subsequently designed in parallel by Canada and British Columbia. We worked with Canada and the Province of B.C. to protect sensitive areas within Haida territory. We have engaged in marine planning since 2006, first with Canada, and more recently with the Government of British Columbia, under both the Haida Gwaii marine plan and land use plans.
Co-operative management has provided a mechanism to balance crown and Haida interests by allowing both parties to co-operate on management and planning, and work toward mutually agreed upon objectives, while maintaining individual jurisdiction and authority.
Now I'm going to provide some of the Haida Nation's recommendations in terms of amendments to the bill. We support the proposed amendments to the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act, but we make seven sets of recommendations to strengthen the proposed bill, based on our experience with co-operative management of the two marine areas within our territory. Both the Sgaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount and Gwaii Haanas marine areas would have greatly benefited from interim protection and an accelerated timeline, which are not possible under the existing Oceans Act.
The Sgaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area, or SK-B MPA, was identified as a DFO pilot project for MPA designation about 1998, but there was no federal protection until the area was established as an MPA under the Oceans Act in 2008. It took 10 years. Part of the delay was due to the need to develop a co-management agreement between the Haida Nation and Canada.
The Gwaii Haanas terrestrial and marine area has been called “one of the world's ecological and cultural treasures”. The crown's intention to protect the Gwaii Haanas marine area was identified when the South Moresby agreement was signed in 1988. The reinforcement of Gwaii Haanas was not protected under federal legislation until 2010, when the Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement was signed, and an interim management plan was approved by Canada and the Haida Nation.
A final integrated land, sea, and people management plan is anticipated in 2018. Gwaii Haanas is not an Oceans Act designated MPA, but our co-operative management experience in Gwaii Haanas has relevance to our recommended amendments to the Oceans Act.
I'm going to get into the seven recommendations.
The first recommendation, which is a critical challenge for our marine protected area co-managers right now, is the lack of authority to manage, restrict, and close fisheries. We need to enable co-operative management boards to manage marine protected areas. Under both national marine conservation areas and marine protected areas, fisheries continue to be managed under the Fisheries Act. Instead, fisheries' activities must be consistent with management objectives and, in the case of Haida Gwaii, accountable to the agreement between Canada and the Haida Nation. This will avoid future litigation, curtailing fisheries that are unsustainable or that result in degradation to sensitive habitat. The ability to manage fisheries must be explicit in the Oceans Act and should not be circumvented by regulations.
Our second recommendation is that the bill include separate sections on sustainability principles, including ecosystem-based management and the precautionary principle. While a precautionary approach is mentioned in the recital of the current Oceans Act, there is no definition or guidance on how it should be applied. The precautionary approach should be applied in the assessment of all activities occurring within the marine protected area. Both of these principles and others are expressed in traditional Haida laws and our marine use planning processes.
The third recommendation is that we welcome new provisions from the Minister of Natural Resources Canada or the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to prohibit oil and gas activities or to cancel a company's oil and gas interests in an interim marine protected area. However, restrictions should go further.
In our fourth recommendation, we support the recommendations of West Coast Environmental Law in areas that coincide with mandates from Haida citizens to prohibit specific activities. We seek minimum protection standards under the Oceans Act from oil and gas, mineral exploration and development, wind farms and tidal power development, open-net pen aquaculture, and trawling in high protected zones, meaning International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN, categories one, two, three, and four.
On our fifth recommendation, we also support the further recommendations of West Coast Environmental Law such as recognizing ecological integrity as the top priority for marine protected areas and interim protection MPAs. Second, assign IUCN categories to marine protected areas for consistency. The Haida Nation in British Columbia used these categories in the Haida Gwaii marine plan. Finally, we recommend that a significant portion of marine protected areas with a high level of protection be closed to extractive activities, including commercial and recreational fishing.
Our sixth recommendation is that we echo the recommendation of both West Coast Environmental Law and the Heiltsuk nation that an explicit statement be incorporated into the bill confirming that nothing in the bill limits the constitutionally protected rights of indigenous people.
Finally, we agree with the recommendation by West Coast Environmental Law that the bill require explicit recognition of indigenous governance rights and co-governance of marine protected areas. There is an international precedent for this in addition to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. The IUCN provides a mechanism for recognizing indigenous and community conserved areas.
There's also support for this in Canada. Indigenous protected areas were identified as an opportunity for Canada in the report “A “new Shared Arctic Leadership Model” by Mary Simon, the minister's special representative on Arctic leadership. According to Ms. Simon, “Indigenous protected areas are based on the idea of a protected area explicitly designed to accommodate and support an Indigenous vision of a working landscape.”
In conclusion, the Haida Nation has breathed life into and has taken the first steps toward implementing our vision for a working seascape. A mechanism to recognize indigenous protected areas through the Oceans Act or other Canadian legislation would provide an additional stepping stone to begin reconciliation of marine spaces while also meeting and exceeding targets for marine protection.
I want to thank you for your time this morning.