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

RCMP looking for tips after motorcycle and truck collide

Fairmont Hot Springs crash temporarily closed road while officers investigated

Two fires of note burning in Southeast Fire Centre

As of Saturday afternoon there were more than 20 fires burning in the Southeast Fire Centre.

Car show runs ahead this September

Radium Show & Shine gears up for annual event September 14-15

Happy days are here again with Valley Appreciation Day

Annual event fills downtown with fun and festivity

No rent; no tent

Backcountry campers need permit to park

Update: Police probe Toronto shooting that killed 2, injured 12; suspected gunman dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Wartime Wednesdays

Invermere’s Elinor Florence investigates stories from our wartime past

Sunken duck boat to be raised after deadly Missouri accident

17 people died over the weekend in a deadly boat incident

Man extradited to Canada in B.C. killing, following arrest in South Korea

28-year-old Jui-Kai Weng was charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder

Canada beats Triple Crown for Canada Cup softball title

National team’s championship is first at B.C. tournament since 1996

Record high in Japan as heat wave grips the region

The temperature in a city north of Tokyo reached 41.1 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit) on Monday, the highest ever recorded in Japan.

Feds looking at ways to tackle wave of gun violence in Toronto: Minister

Toronto mayor John Tory spoke to the press following a mass casualty event in Toronto.

Inquest set in death of RCMP’s spokesperson for Robert Dziekanski case

Former Mountie Pierre Lemaitre died of self-inflicted injuries in Abbotsford in 2013

Soaring temperatures, high winds could worsen fires in B.C.’s southern Interior

Environment Canada’s forecast for the next week in the southern Interior does not inspire confidence, with temperatures in the 30s and winds gusting over 40 kilometres per hour.

Most Read