Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at the Coast Guard base in Prince Rupert to announce the Ocean Protection Plan. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

Trudeau announces bioregional oceans protection agreement in Prince Rupert

Agreement announced in partnership with 14 central and north coast First Nations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Prince Rupert on June 21 to announce a new ocean protection agreement with 14 B.C. First Nations.

At the Canadian Coast Guard base, Trudeau said the 14 First Nations will work together with the federal government to manage and conserve oceans, including marine spatial planning and developing a network of marine protected areas, in Haida Gwaii, the North Coast, the Central Coast, and North Vancouver Island. The area will span two-thirds of the B.C. coast.

“The First Nations of the Pacific North and Central Coast have been protecting Canada’s waters for millennia,” Trudeau said. “Working together, we will protect and preserve the Pacific North Coast, and we will advance reconciliation along the way.”

The Prime Minister spoke at length about balancing economic development, job creation and protecting the environment.

The federal government and the First Nations also reinforced their promise to work together on projects already underway as part of Ottawa’s $1.5-billion Ocean Protections Plan, such as improving waterway management, boosting emergency preparedness, and increasing the response capacity of local First Nations.

The first speaker, Chief Marilyn Slett of the Heiltsuk Nation and President of the Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative, said the reconciliation framework must support First Nation self-determination.

“It is clear that to be successful, oceans management and protection must be Indigenous-led,” Slett said. “We must support the nations of the coast and their vision of a marine safety regime that will ensure the protection of our coastal communities, our economies and our ecosystems.”

READ MORE: Trudeau announces $1.5 billion ocean protection plan

Another project is also already in progress to address vessel traffic problems in local waterways, including setting out measures, such as speed and routing controls, to improve safety and reduce the impact on the environment.

Of the more than 57 projects under the Ocean Protection Plan, Bruce Watkinson, the fisheries manager for Gitxaala Environmental Monitoring, said the data collection will be crucial.

“One of the important projects for our area in terms of LNG and potential energy projects out of the Port of Prince Rupert is to examine the cumulative effects of shipping on the environment. We’ve picked several values including salmon and water quality to really look into,” Watkinson said.

“We need to go out and collect information to know where and when to protect the environment and to determine what levels and types of industrial activity and economic drivers that we can accept.”

Of Trudeau’s announcement on National Indigenous Peoples Day, Watkinson said it is important to celebrate the milestone of signing the reconciliation framework agreement.

“We’re very encouraged,” he said. “This is an important milestone, but in terms of reconciliation with the federal government, we’re not there yet. We are making positive steps and today was a good day to celebrate the positive steps that we have taken.”

Salmon fisheries

Following the announcement, Trudeau answered questions from media regarding the recent closure of the salmon fisheries on the North Coast.

“We know that salmon are essential to not just the coast ecosystem around here, but the livelihood of so many people from Indigenous peoples to tourists and tourism in the area to the wildlife that surrounds us. This is something that we understand is under stress and under threat. That’s why the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and others have taken so seriously our responsibility,” Trudeau said.

The Prime Minister said the national science advisor will weigh in, and Indigenous leaders will contribute traditional knowledge.

“We know there is an urgent need to move forward on this, but we know we have to get it right. Because whatever decisions we take will have real consequences on people who make their lives from various industries,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re doing it right to protect both livelihoods and, of course, salmon stocks for future generations, not just here but right up and down B.C.’s beautiful coast.”

READ MORE: DFO implements chinook restrictions for North Coast



laura.baziuk@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Tenants union pushes back against B.C.’s 4.5% rent increase

They say it’s the highest rent increase in 15 years

No hike in natural-gas rates through end of year

Over three million British Columbians use natural gas every day

LETTER: Blanket firearms ban misses the point

A letter to the editor from MP Cathy McLeod

Organic food and beverage products sold in B.C. must be certified

VICTORIA - As of Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, people can buy British… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare close encounter with whale pod spotted off B.C. waters

Pod of southern resident orca whales breach within arms length of whale watchers

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Most Read