Government of Canada

Government of Canada
Haida Nation

Haida Nation

January 16, 2010 13:00 ET

Government of Canada and Council of the Haida Nation Agree to Share Management of the Waters Around Gwaii Haanas

Gwaii Haanas would be protected from mountain top to sea floor

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 16, 2010) - The Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada's Environment Minister and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada, and Guujaaw, President of the Haida Nation, today signed a momentous agreement that commits the Government of Canada and the Council of the Haida Nation to share in the planning, operations and management of the waters surrounding the Gwaii Haanas protected area in southern Haida Gwaii.

This new Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement is an important step towards the Government of Canada's proposal to establish these waters as a National Marine Conservation Area Reserve that would complement the existing Haida designation of the area as a Heritage Site.

"I am absolutely thrilled to announce this historic agreement with the Haida Nation to cooperatively manage what is one of the most remarkable natural and cultural parts of the country," said Minister Prentice. "This would be the first natural area in the world that is protected from the very tops of the mountains to the bottom of the ocean. I could not think of a better way to celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity."

The Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement expands upon the internationally recognized partnership that began with the signing of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement (1993 - land area). The proposed boundaries of the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve follow those of the Haida Heritage Site extending about ten kilometres offshore from Gwaii Haanas, encompassing approximately 3,400 square kilometres of the Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Shelf Marine Regions. The addition of the Gwaii Haanas marine area to the existing national park reserve will result in over 5,000 square kilometres of protection from mountain top to sea floor - a first for Canada and the world.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will continue to be the federal lead with respect to managing fisheries within the future reserve. "The protection of the Gwaii Haanas marine area highlights not only the Government of Canada's commitment to conservation and protection, but also our commitment to ensuring that oceans resources thrive for the benefit of our communities and ocean users, including fish harvesters," said the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. "The Gwaii Haanas marine area is and will continue to be important to fish harvesters who earn their living there. By working closely with Parks Canada and the Council of the Haida Nation, we will ensure that fisheries are managed to meet the conservation objectives that are developed for this area."

"For hundreds of generations, the Haida Nation has lived in harmony with this environment, and it's only fitting that they will help make this area shrouded in mystery and beauty a world leader in integrated land-sea conservation management," said the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada.

The Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement confirms the partners who will manage, protect and conserve the marine area for the benefit, education and enjoyment of the people of Haida Gwaii, Canada and the world. Haida traditional activities will continue and while conservation will be the focus, marine activities such as commercial fishing and recreational activities that meet conservation objectives will be permitted within the boundaries of the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve.

"This allows us to put aside our differences and turn our attention to looking after and healing the waters," said Guujaaw. "Gwaii Haanas will light a clearly needed beacon on troubled waters."

Parks Canada has been a world leader in managing protected areas for 125 years and this tradition continues as Gwaii Haanas is poised to become a world leader in integrated land-sea conservation management. This will unfold in a time when near shore marine ecosystems have been described as critically endangered on a global scale. The Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement and proposed Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve represent significant milestones towards the protection and long-term health of Canada's oceans and demonstrate leadership in integrated oceans management.

(Also available on the Internet at under Media Room.)

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    Parks Canada
    Media Relations
    National Corporate Communications Branch