Vancouver – As part of its Oceans Protection Plan, Canada’s Federal Government is launching two new initiatives to protect critical ecosystems supporting Indigenous and coastal communities on the BC coast.
Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, announced pilot projects for an Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative on BC’s North Coast, as well as measures to reduce the underwater noise that effect Southern Resident Killer Whales.
“I am proud of the partnerships our Government is building under the Oceans Protection Plan,” said Minister Garneau. “The traditional knowledge and expertise we are gaining from Canada‘s Indigenous peoples and coastal communities is a critical element to safeguarding Canada’s waters, and the Enhanced Marine Situational Awareness project is an excellent example of these partnerships at work.”
For the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative, the Haida Nation and the Gitga’at Nation will host pilot projects, beginning in fall 2018 and concluding in fall 2019.
“Our involvement in the development of the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness initiative gives us access to the best coastal marine information today,” says kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation. “By incorporating our Nation’s deep ocean knowledge into the system, all users in the future will have a better understanding of Haida Gwaii and the reasons we insist on its protection.”
The two Nations will work with Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard and other federal departments to develop, test and evaluate a new marine awareness information system, which will provide Indigenous communities, provincial governments, research organizations and other coastal partners with essential maritime information, including near real-time data on ship traffic.
“Being able to contribute to and have access to other sources of this critical information will serve to enhance prevention measures and improve response capacity in the event of a marine emergency in local waterways,” says Roger Sterritt, Manager of the Gitg’at Nation’s Emergency Response Team.
In addition, Budget 2018 announced more than $167 million to help Canada better understand risks to whales, including the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale, and to take the next steps needed to address those impacts.
The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways, and involves the creation of a marine safety system designed in close collaboration with Indigenous peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.