The Government of Canada, Gitga’at and Gitxaala Nations announce new guidelines to improve marine safety on the North Pacific Coast
From: Transport Canada
November 22, 2022
The Gitga’at and Gitxaala Nations have occupied the lands and waters around their coastal communities of Hartley Bay and Kitkatla, on the North Pacific Coast of what is now called Canada, for millennia. Their use of the waterways to travel to and access fishing and marine harvesting areas is a key facet of their rich culture and history. That is why ensuring those activities can continue is essential to maintaining their cultural, social, and economic wellbeing. In that context, increased use of those waterways for commercial marine transportation, a mainstay of Canada’s economy, can present challenges.
Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at Nation, Arnold Clifton, and Chief Councillor of the Gitxaala Nation, Linda Innes, announced new waterway management guidelines to improve safety and reduce conflict among Indigenous, public, and commercial waterway users in an important North Pacific Coast waterway.
Effective September 1, 2022:
- new North Coast Waterway Management Guidelines apply to all types of vessels travelling between Kitimat and Browning Entrance.
- These guidelines include safety zones, speed reductions, recommended routing, guidance for ships meeting and passing each other, and stronger communications on the water. The guidelines also include First Nations Areas of Concern where ships must ensure local community users can transit and use the area safely.
The North Coast Waterway Management Guidelines are the result of nearly three years of planning by the Government of Canada, the Gitga’at Nation, and the Gitxaala Nation, working together under the Reconciliation Framework Agreement for Bioregional Oceans Management and Protection, supported by Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan. They were developed as a pilot project of the Proactive Vessel Management initiative with considerable participation and support from collaborators including the B.C. Coast Pilots, Pacific Pilotage Authority, commercial shipping associations, and export terminal operators.
Initiatives such as the North Coast Waterway Management Guidelines, developed through partnerships among Indigenous Nations, the Government of Canada, and key stakeholders with support from the Oceans Protection Plan, are a Canadian success story. When Indigenous Peoples, industry, communities, academia, and government work together to address their respective interests, protect our environment, grow our economy, and support good jobs across the country, we deliver real results. A renewed and expanded Oceans Protection Plan, advanced in partnership with First Nations, will keep our oceans and coasts healthy, advance reconciliation, and build a clean future for our children and grandchildren.
“The new North Coast Waterway Management Guidelines are one example of the collaborative work being accomplished through cooperative initiatives such as the Reconciliation Framework Agreement for Bioregional Oceans Management supported by the Oceans Protection Plan. It is by working together that we can strengthen our supply chains and ensure our coasts and waterways remain healthy and safe for generations to come.”
The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport
“We’re pleased we’ve been able to work in partnership with Canada, Gitxaala and key agencies and organizations to develop these North Coast Waterway Management Guidelines. Being able to travel and harvest our marine resources safely is paramount to our people and our culture. We look forward to continue working with Gitxaala, Canada and our other partners to implement these new guidelines.”
Chief Councillor Arnold Clifton
“The North Coast Waterway Management Guidelines represent a key milestone in advancing measures to make our marine waterways safer for Gitxaala citizens and all other mariners that travel through our waters. We look forward to the implementation of the guidelines and the continuation of our relationship with our other government partners. Gitxaala congratulates Gitga’at, Canada, and the other key contributors on the completion of the new guidelines.”
Chief Councillor Linda Innes
- These guidelines were initially developed as part of the Oceans Protection Plan’s Proactive Vessel Management initiative. They are a product of considerable participation and support from various collaborators including the B.C. Coast Pilots, Pacific Pilotage Authority, commercial shipping associations, and export terminal operators.
- The first phase of the Oceans Protection Plan included over 1,200 engagement sessions with Indigenous communities to develop and improve marine safety measures and the Oceans Protection Plan.
- The Reconciliation Framework Agreement was signed on June 21, 2018, and represents the first time in history that the Government of Canada and multiple First Nations formally committed to working together to protect the marine environment and improve marine safety over a large geographic area.
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
Transport Canada, Ottawa