Community Dialogue

July 2005 Community Dialogue Notes

::: Haida Gwaii Marine Planning :::
Communities Fitting the Pieces Together

Hosted by the Haida Fisheries Program, Gwaii Haanas
& World Wildlife Fund Canada

Contacts : Lynn Lee 557-4453 : John Farrell 559-2338 :
Russ Jones 559-8945
Cacilia’s Bed & Breakfast, Tlell
Thursday, July 28th, 2005

Disclaimer: Please note that this is a paraphrased record of events. Any misrepresentation in participants’ comments, questions, and/or responses is unintentional.


Update on Marine Planning Initiatives that Affect Haida Gwaii

Russ Jones – Haida Fisheries Program Technical Director
Coastal First Nations involvement in marine planning in British Columbia

People are quite familiar with how First Nations and how Haida utilize the ocean. Most people know that we were ocean going people and that we had large canoes, we traveled thousands of miles, we went as far down as California and other first nations – Tsimshian, Nuu-chal-nuth, etc. – did the same. Most of our food came from the ocean including species like black cod, which lives at a thousand foot depths. Europeans were quite amazed that we knew black cod were there, that we were fishing them and that we had the technology in place to fish them. We utilized these resources and others that had no market in Europe or which people didn’t even know were here. I think people generally know that our use of the ocean is quite extensive and we managed our use with other people – different clans here on Haida Gwaii, as well as other groups like the Tsimshian in the Prince Rupert area and the Nu-chal-nulth down on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

There is another aspect to our relationship to the ocean, we have quite a strong spiritual connection, which is the way we feel about the ocean and the way we feel about the marine resources, I think that is reflected in some cases just by the way we talk about it. Our name for killer whale is sgaana and sgaana also means supernatural being. Killer whales were thought as the chiefs of the undersea world. Halibut and salmon also had their own talents down in the ocean and people could actually do transformations and turn from a person into a salmon and live with the salmon people. There is this relationship between Haida and living things and non-living things here on the island, which is quite different from western society.

Another principle that Haida use in their relationships is yah’guudang, which means respect, and that respect applies to other people but it also applies to other living things. You have to be respectful of all living things because they might actually be a supernatural being or a person. People weren’t on top and animals below – in the Haida worldview animals could be higher than people and they could be supernatural beings. If you did something disrespectful there could be serious consequences.

There is another Haida expressions, “the world is as sharp as the edge of a knife” and I think one thing we might think about is what is the difference between a live person and a dead person, it could be the blink of an eye. If you are on the edge of a knife you could go off on one side or the other, there is a balance that you have to follow in your life.

There was an agreement worked out a few years ago between the Turning Point Coastal First Nations and the Government of Canada on trying to do things in a different way. The Turning Point First Nations involves Haida, Tsimshian and also some First Nations on the Central Coast. In 2002, the First Nations signed an agreement with DFO to work together on marine use planning. This was shortly after DFO released an Oceans Strategy plan – a plan to do integrated planning over large ocean areas in British Columbia. Over the past two years, there has been work done government to government between those First Nations and Canada on how we might do that. There is a preliminary framework that has been developed and it’s at a stage where soon it will be going out and there will be broader consultation with stakeholders on that overall process.

The planning area is called the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA). It looks at quite a large area, it goes all the way from the north end of Vancouver Island up to the Alaska border, and it’s more than half of the whole coast of British Columbia. The Nisga’a have a treaty with Canada so they are not directly involved at this point but I think the plan is that they will decide how they will be involved either in the First Nations process or in a multi-sector process.

There was an announcement at the end of May by the Minister of Fisheries, Geoff Regan, about an Oceans Action Plan. He developed five priority areas for Integrated Management Planning in Canada and one of those five areas was this PNCIMA area. Over the next two years the plan would be to develop these integrated management plans under the Oceans Act. One thing to recognize is that this is a very large area and there is going to be some very broad brush planning that is going to happen.

In the framework that is being developed so far there are two levels – one is a First Nations planning process and other is a parallel, multi-stakeholder process. For the First Nations processes, there would be a local Haida process, another one in the Central Coast and another with the Tsimshian, so there would be those local processes. Those First Nations will come together and try to come up with some common plans or objectives. For the multi-stakeholder process, it’s not clear at this point whether it is going to be just at one large table that deals with whole north coast.

At this point in time, I don’t think there is anything laid out for local planning processes, which could be an issue. What I believe is going to happen is this framework is going to come out in a public floor discussion in terms of does this process meet peoples expectations or the goals of what integrated management planning is. Of course DFO has their ideas laid out in the Oceans Strategy and also in the Oceans Action Plan. From the Haida side there are three groups, the Council of the Haida Nation, Skidegate Band Council and Old Massett Village Council.

Under the Oceans Action Plan there is funding to move ahead with this. That’s the stage it is at right now from the First Nations perspective, putting the funding in place. As I understand it DFO has allocated funding for the multi-sector side of it.

It is important to share information and knowledge and talk about how this process will work and if it meets our needs here. I think it is important for Haida and other Island residents to get together and try to talk about common issues.

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Norm Sloan – Gwaii Haanas Parks Canada Marine Ecologist

What I wanted to do was give you some context on the federal government’s position to do with oceans management and national change, attitude and implementation of new ways of thinking about the oceans.

In 1997, Canada passed its Oceans Act and the idea behind the Oceans Act was a framework for modern oceans management. The reason for the Oceans Act was an acceptance that sectoral oceans management – that is management of ocean resources and ocean issues by individual government sectors – was not working for the nation. What the nation needed was to re-evaluate how we think about oceans and how we might manage ocean resources. The three principles of oceans management are:

  1. Sustainable development: meeting the current generations needs without impairing the needs for future generations. It is about thinking long term, thinking about unborn generations, it is a different way and a more long-term way of thinking.
  2. Integrated management: bringing the different sectors together. These different sectors would be First Nations but also industry, non-government organizations (NGOs), coastal communities and academia. It is an attempt to bring people together because we are not succeeding in a lot of ocean environmental things.
  3. Precautionary approach: taking risk diverse action, knowing that you have incomplete information but erring on the side of caution when you make decisions about natural resource use.

Three main initiatives with Canada’s Oceans Strategy:

  1. Better ocean governance through collaboration with all sectors.
  2. Using integrated management with partners as the implementation vehicle.
  3. Promoting public awareness of ocean issues.

In 2002, Canada passed its National Oceans Strategy. In the intervening years the idea of an Oceans Strategy has been gathering force although marine conservation in Canada has largely been fishery management. The Fisheries Act is an ancient act, it is as old as the nation, it goes back to 1867 and here we are with an Oceans Act that was passed in 1997. We have a very long tradition of fisheries management and the fishery management sector and a very short tradition of a more innovative approach of bringing everyone together because we know that fisheries management has not really worked for the nation, as we all know by the cod collapse on the east coast.

In 2005, the government issued two things:

  1. Phase One Action Plan for the National Oceans Strategy: this phase one is about twenty-five million dollars and we have three oceans so they want to partition the money – Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic. The decision in the Pacific was to go with the PNCIMA (Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area).
  2. Federal Marine Protected Area Strategy: provides Fisheries and Oceans Canada with a leadership role in coordinating the development and implementation of a federal network of marine protected areas.

There is a problem because the federal government is involved in oceans management but they are not involved in land management and some areas are crown land because they involve watersheds that drain into the PNCIMA and are under provincial control. There is a profound federal/provincial split at the shoreline. We need to start thinking about integrating the land and sea, it makes enormous sense for these islands but it is actually very important for PNCIMA and the entire north coast. That is a major problem for oceans management in this country; the federal and provincial governments have to come together.

Also launched in 2005 was the National Marine Protected Area Strategy and in that strategy DFO recognizes that there are other federal agencies involved in marine conservation in Canada and it is confusing for most people.

The Oceans Act had a Marine Protected Area component as one of its main activities and also marine environmental quality and integrated management.

One of the pilot Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is the Bowie Seamount, off the west coast of Haida Gwaii. Canada has been very slow at declaring Marine Protected Areas. In the Pacific we have only one, which is the Endeavor Hot Vents. That was the first Marine Protected Area federally created in Canada and now we have one in the Atlantic too, the Sable Gully. DFO wants to get going with the Bowie Seamount.
We have the National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) Act of Parks Canada involved in marine area conservation, we have DFO becoming involved through MPAs and aspiring to this in our region and then we have Environment Canada involved using their National Wildlife Act to create what they call a Marine Wildlife Area in the Scott Islands group. That is because Environment Canada has a responsibility for migratory birds and there are enormous seabird colonies there. Generally speaking we have handed over the birds – marine birds are not managed by DFO, they are managed by Environment Canada, particularly the Canadian Wildlife Service. For citizens this becomes very confusing – who’s doing what, how come you guys aren’t working together, what’s going on? The federal government was aware of national confusion and said we need to get together as a federal group and have this National Marine Protected Areas Strategy that was only launched in 2005.

We are at a very pioneering time in this nation and in this region for marine conservation. Key decisions are being made right now, it is a very exciting time but a time of enormous uncertainty.

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Lynn Lee – World Wildlife Fund Canada Haida Gwaii Local Coordinator

The first time that we got together as an Island community to talk about the sea around the Islands, Elliott Norse was here and we talked about what needs the Islands’ community had and what their aspirations were for marine planning, how we fit into a process and where things were going. Until the Oceans Act and the National Marine Conservation Areas Act, ocean management was pretty much piecemeal and it is even now. Fisheries management is species by species and we have different things like Rockfish Conservation Areas and very species specific issues that we deal with, but we have not taken the time to put that stuff together and try to work management, science, local knowledge and traditional knowledge together into something that works for local communities and local ecosystems.

What we heard at that first meeting was that the people of Haida Gwaii really felt that we needed to have a local marine plan that was driven by the communities that worked for conservation but also for communities. I think it is because we, living here, recognize that having healthy ecosystems is what builds healthy communities. We need the marine ecosystems to be healthy; we need fish out there that so our human communities are economically, culturally and socially healthy as well. The question is how do you get there? Conservation only works on a local level if the people of the communities buy in. We need to figure out a solution together that works for people and fish.

At the first meeting we had general discussions about what were peoples issues, what they felt was really important, what needed to be dealt with and this agreement that we needed a plan. So then we got people together a second time and specifically hashed out what issues are key to the islands, what are the things that we agree on, what are the things that we don’t agree on, where do we have to discuss and get more information so that we can have effective dialogue about what the solutions might be. Following that second meeting, I put together a compilation of what I have heard from Islanders over the last five years. It is a range of opinions on different issues, what the perspectives are on the Islands, where people think we need to go and places where we find common ground.

There are issues like offshore oil and gas that the Islands’ communities are pretty cohesive on, not supporting oil and gas development and not supporting open net cage salmon farming. Are there things we can do to fit those into regional and federal planning processes? We have the Oceans Act and the Fisheries Act that says conservation first but I think they are having a hard time actually implementing them so that they work for local places and Haida Gwaii. I think our job is to get together and figure out how to help them get there, this is what we think you need to do in order for us to maintain these healthy communities around the islands.

Since our last meeting, I have been trying to pull together fisheries information because it is really hard to get good fisheries data from outside DFO. Some of the information is shown in the maps up on the walls. Parks Canada has been working on a series of compilations that put together everything we know about different parts of the marine ecosystem that is relevant to Haida Gwaii. They are very comprehensive summaries about things that are known about marine invertebrates, marine mammals and they are going to be a good base line for us to start discussing what we want to see and what surrounds the islands.

From this workshop I am hoping to hear from people what the next steps are – how do we act on what local people want to do for their marine environment, how do we find the solutions and bring them to larger regional planning processes? We are not sure what that is going to look like for Haida Gwaii. There is going to be a First Nations Haida planning process but we also, as a whole Islands community, need to get together and talk about what all the communities on the Islands want to see, and where we can help guide existing processes to address what is important for us. The regional process may say Haida Gwaii is important but there still needs to be a local plan that feeds into the larger picture so that we have something that works for the Islands.

We are all here because we care about this place. It is a very complicated place but there is so much knowledge on the Islands and people that have such a passion for this place that I think we can work together and figure out where to go from here. As an Islands community, need to help define where we’re going and not simply wait for the processes to come down from the federal and provincial government then react to them. We do need to start a conversation here about what is important to us and how we protect that for the future.

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Elliott Norse – Marine Conservation Biology Institute President

I feel honoured to return here – I am not an expert in this place but I have seen other places and I’ve gathered some general principles on what has not worked (and there is a lot of data on what has not worked) and what does seem to work (and there is not much data on what does seem to work). The reason for that is because everywhere we look we are seeing bad things happening. There are some principles that I think we can use to understand what the situation is here and how we might make things work so I would like to share some of that.

As a biologist, I became a “leading expert” in blue crabs because no one else was interested in doing it. I felt that they were so productive, had so many young that there was no way they would ever become a conservation issue – but the inconceivable happened. As it did with the “mountains of cod” that are no more; lives have been disrupted and the cod may never come back. Similar things have happened in place after place.

I am either blessed or cursed with the big picture but have never had the experience of working hour after hour, day after day hammering out a local plan. I know a local plan is very important because ultimately this is about people. The question is how do you fit together the big and the small, the earth or the ocean basin or the region or the locality, how does it fit together? I can offer a few thoughts:

  1. Marine life is largely unknown by people, we spend most of our energy trying to figure out what is there that affects us. The marine species that affect most of society are the ones we eat or the ones that we are afraid of. Our thinking about the ocean is really not what it should be. For example, in Florida this year one young person died after a shark attack and other was bitten. This made front-page news and lots of information was put out. Then a colleague pointed out that statistically there are more people around the world killed by falling coconuts than by sharks – but we never hear about a “coconut crisis”! People don’t understand how what they perceive as the “shark crisis” fits into the real world.
  2. The data that we have is not about oceans, not about marine life, not about fish, not even about commercially important fish but only the catches of commercially important fish. That is basically the best data we have and it is a very small subset of the data we could have. This is a problem. A grad student looked at long-line fishing in the Gulf of Mexico – 50 years worth of data on tuna catch trends. When he sifted through the data it became clear that something important had been missed – the change in the population of a particular shark in the Gulf of Mexico. They had declined by 90% since the tuna fishery started. Something huge was going on and National Marine Fisheries (NMF) had missed it. NMF is concerned only if it involves: (a) a species we can eat, (b) populations so low they’re likely to vanish and (c) marine mammals.
  3. We are not looking at most of what is happening in the sea. When you don’t look you may be falsely reassured that things are okay.

The marine biologists of the world got together and in 1998 released a statement, “Troubled Waters” that said the oceans are in trouble, everywhere we look we see trouble, we see alarming trends and we are scared, we need to do something about it and here are things we must do.

The US had two blue ribbon panels looking at the issue of oceans policy. In 1969, they concluded that the problem was too many Russians and Poles fishing in US waters and that the solution was to build up the fishing industry so the US could get full utilization of its own marine resources, finding the most efficient way to maximize the effort. More recently, the Pew Oceans Commission produced a really good paper. The official US Commission on Oceans Policy included oil and gas development but otherwise the conclusions that came out of it were very similar to the Pew report – the oceans are in trouble, institutions are doing a poor job and we need to change the way we do business.

So what can be done?

  1. There is a problem in the mismatch between what we see around us and what we don’t see under the surface of the water. We’re “sort of blind.” The least blind among as are fishermen, the military, the oil and gas industry and marine scientists. The military doesn’t necessarily want to share their information. The fishing industry’s information is also proprietary and they are reluctant to share it. The datasets that would help us see and understand are hard to come by.
  2. Things happen at different scales of place and time in the oceans – for people and for marine organisms. Glenn Van Blaricom talked last night about narwhals and some recent progress towards finding out where they spend their time. This is a familiar animal that has been used for a long time but how do you ‘manage’ that use if you don’t know where the animals come from or go to. New tagging technology that has become available is useful. It can be integrated with older tools such as GIS that help us see what we couldn’t see before and lead us to intelligent conclusions.
  3. There are some processes you can control and some you can’t. 5,000 people on Haida Gwaii can’t control global warming, though they have to deal with it and can help in a very small way. Global warming is important because it determines the pattern of wind, rain and currents that affect the productivity and health of the ocean. Nor can you do much, except as a Canadian citizen, about the outpouring of oil from Alberta’s tar sands. Learn what you can control, and work on the things that affect your home place. See how your piece fits into the bigger picture. You’re the expert on this place. You know where things are – and where they used to be.

The WWF’s area of concern is huge and heterogeneous and people have different interests. It will be harder to manage the larger area, so get together on local action for the local area. Build trust locally to form a basis for managing ocean resources to the point where they can be sustained to a considerable degree. What happens to humpbacks in Hawaii, seabirds in the Arctic and other things in other jurisdictions are important to what happens here, but they are not the areas the local community can most readily affect.

All marine life is connected. Seabirds depend on big animals in the deep that drive small organisms to the surface. Learn about the connections and you can save a good deal.

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Discussion Groups

How do we get traditional & local knowledge into Haida Gwaii marine planning?
Host: Russ Jones

  1. Where is it?
    • Haida, elders, Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (SHIP) – living knowledge
    • Fishers, other people that have knowledge of the ocean
    • Literature
    • Mariners
  2. How do we get it?
    • Survey/interview – design of the survey has to be very well thought out (also see last comment under Point 6)
    • Past studies – compile and collect information
    • In-depth studies
    • Look at existing examples (Australia, Great Barrier Reef and ocean plans)
  3. How to organize the information?
    • Database (geo-referenced)
    • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
    • Information has to be first organized, a decision made on reliability and then digitized into database and GIS.
    • Modeling
  4. Challenges
    • Mistrust – what are you going to use this for?
    • Confidentiality – locations
    • Fewer experiences today than in the past
    • Data quality/reliability
    • Timeframe – deadlines
  5. Other values of traditional knowledge – other values are collected, it is important to include everything. Positive relationships with organisms
  6. The way ahead
    • Build understanding
    • School programs – get traditional knowledge in the schools and the importance of this knowledge
    • Use existing experience like the Great Barrier Reef to help design local data collection
    • (added from comment in closing discussions) tap into existing local & traditional knowledge gathering systems like those developed by Living Oceans Society and Ecotrust Canada.

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Ways to use marine conservation areas & networks in marine planning
Hosts: Glenn Vanblaricom with John Cigliano (visiting researchers)

Haida concern around tourism impacts on local resources and communities (clam digging and crabbing on North Beach, sportfishing around Langara Island)

  • Langara lodge sees 100 clients every 5 days
  • Lost commercial fishery because of sportfishery expansion
  • Coho Point is the first head of land in BC for salmon swimming south, from there to the Skeena and Fraser Rivers
  • Huge economic resistance (government, industry) to protecting this area (MPAs)

Defining Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

  • First steps is to get biological information together to make an effective MPA
  • MPAs don’t even show up on nautical charts. In BC, there is not even a basic acknowledgement of what it is and what the legislation means.
  • But, Provincial marine areas are primarily recreational. Little point in putting them on a map because there are so few and little to no protection.
  • In the Philippines, there is a good example of communities united to save a reef (Elliot will know this example). They managed it and were quite successful.
  • Local people would support MPAs if there was local control. Need local engagement and local control
  • Need to network with those who have had success in a community based MPA systems
  • There are resources on Haida Gwaii that are depleted, but a desire for local people to utilize those resources in the future. ‘Look ahead seven generations’ People are willing to sacrifice if there is hope.
  • Need strong educational component (public education) around MPAs and marine resources in general before local communities buy-in and MPAs are locally effective. The youth participants said they were exposed to salmon enhancement in elementary school but no general marine science exposure in high school.

A Marine Protected Area (MPA) network

  • If you protect fish in Gwaii Hanaas (South Moresby Island) only, they are defeated if the same level of protection is not found around Graham Island
  • General approval of concept of having an MPA at Langara Island to save the salmon
  • Voiced lack of knowledge around benefits of MPAs, socio-economic benefits
  • If MPAs are established they require legislative teeth. This may have to come through aboriginal title (title case and agreements between CHN and governments)
  • Haida are naturally defensive about MPAs because it means more loss — “you can’t do that … here.” Already fisheries have imposed ‘losses’ on the Haida community. Examples of loss include abalone, roe on kelp, sockeye – All traditional fisheries that are fished out. Education on poaching must start in the schools.
  • Benefits to MPAs are ability to access traditional fisheries with protection
  • Notion of sacrifice now for the benefit of future generations sits well with the two youth participants
  • How do you set up a network? Need best and worst case scenarios from around the globe.


  • There is no (effective) fisheries enforcement in the waters of Haida Gwaii
  • This is a bigger issue on the west coast (more remote)
  • MPAs won’t protect without enforcement and education

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Ways to apply ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM)
Host: Elliott Norse (visiting researcher)


Definition of EBFM:

  • EBFM is managing species and habitats in a manner that allows future generations to benefit socially, environmentally, economically and culturally the same as past generations.
  • EBFM is managing human activities to ensure that the ecosystem maintains a composition, structure and function that allow for social, environmental, economical and cultural benefits to continue for all future generations.
  • EBFM:
    • Implies sustaining commercial and non-commercial fisheries
    • Needs to define what an ecosystem is, indicators in the system and goods that can be measured and adjusted
    • Needs to account for seasonality of fish populations and other indicators
    • Needs to account for longevity/resilience of populations/systems

How to get to EBFM:

  • 90% of the issue is getting local control
  • However, we should still come up with a plan that should we obtain control, we could carry out the plan
  • There are some great success stories and a wealth of local knowledge plus we have a sense of where we want to go
  • To address the problem of local control, the most effective approach may be to address specific issues (as has been done so far) rather than taking a broad brush approach
  • But we still need to figure out how to address the issue of local control from a broader perspective
  • A possible solution may be to create a decision body that is a commission whose composition is controlled to ensure that there is predominant local control/stake at the table.
  • There is a significant asset in the Haida people being recognized as serious players
  • We need to take advantage of people in the forestry sector who have knowledge of EBM and can apply the principals and understanding to the marine environment and help marine managers improve their application of EBFM.
  • People of Haida Gwaii need to be ready to take advantage of initiatives coming down the pipe to be able to proactively and effectively participate to ensure their needs will be met. For example, DFO’s Integrated Management Planning, Coastal
    First Nations initiative for Integrated Management Planning, General consultations with Coastal Communities, MPA development etc.


What do you know about EBFM?

  • Considers interaction between different uses - integrated
  • Considers how species interact with each other. Single species management does not work because targeted species eat other species and are eaten by other species therefore need larger context such as EBFM
  • Meaning of ecosystem:
    • earth is an ecosystem
    • ecosystem meaning is different depending on different scales – different criteria tie different aspects together

Questions to understand EBFM:

  • What do you care about in terms of the ecosystem?
  • How do we want ecosystems to function or how do we want to change the ecosystem to support a different function?
  • What do we need to keep before we take in order to ensure that the ecosystem continues to function?
  • To what point do we want to maintain current ecosystem function?
  • What exactly do we want to maintain in the ecosystem?

Some thoughts to understanding EBFM:

  • Ecosystems contain changing species at changing ages – we need this variation to maintain biodiversity
  • We need young patches to older patches to very old patches, and so on
  • We need balance in terms of ecosystem composition, structure and function
  • Nature does not want monoculture
  • Even if you can’t see it, there is a function

What is the meaning of EBM?

  • Sustain fisheries
  • Define what the ecosystem is
  • Consider seasonal factors
  • Manage species and ecosystems in a ‘generational’ way
  • Cultural, economical, social benefits

Ecosystem concept in fisheries - Principles of EBFM:

  • We do not want to loose any species – want all the fisheries to continue
  • Have to get the political structure on-side. If all the different industries are not involved in the same management approach, then isolated management by one/few industries may not work to manage the ecosystem since they will be unable to address the impacts to and from other industries using/impacting the resource.
  • We need information – difficult to do management if there is no information
  • We need to base management on needs and not wants
  • Need to address the problem of authority/jurisdiction discrepancies e.g. salmon habitat is lost due to activities that managers do not have jurisdiction over
  • Need to think differently, broader than private interests
  • Need to address the problem with fisheries management terminology. For example, “surplus” – there is no such thing, everything gets used in natural systems. If something is taken out of the system, then someone in the system loses out. Instead of aiming to take as much as we can regardless of the other marine life that depend on that food source, we really need to answer the question “How much can we take out of the system without taking excessively from other organisms?” There is unfounded belief that too many fish will kill the stocks.
  • Need to remove negative incentive for conservation caused by government taking the unused portion of one industries take and giving it to their competitor.

Is ‘zero impact’ reasonable for EBFM?

  • No, because we are part of the ecosystem
  • Therefore, the question of how much impact is acceptable becomes a social choice: How do we decide how much impact is OK and how much is too much?
  • As an intelligent society, we can mitigate some impacts e.g. different fishing types have different impacts.
  • Management would be easier if there were no collateral damage – but there is, and sadly we do not account for collateral damage when we fish.
  • If we went back 50 years with less efficient technology, we would be better off – but technology goes only one way since there is no incentive to use less safe, less efficient/effective methods if better options are available.
  • Best fishing is when fish come to you – But there is a problem with the global market in that demand pushes up prices to a point where it is worthwhile to actively pursue the fish rather than wait for it to come to you.
  • We do not put the true costs on fishing:
    • The public funds DFO for fisheries management – an activity that fishermen do not always have to directly pay for and is therefore a subsidy. This subsidy enables the price of fish to be lower than it should be and thus interferes with the natural markets for the fish.
    • In a competitive market, if more money were put into an industry than is being made in that industry, that industry would go out of business. In the case of fisheries, the industry is being kept afloat by not having to bear the full cost burden of that resource use.
    • However, it was noted that the price paid for the fish at the supermarkets does not change. Instead, the majority of the profit is made by the middle men.
    • The industry has forced fishermen into their unsustainable lifestyle e.g. quota systems, costs of entering a fishery.

Ways to apply ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM)

  • Need to bring in broad-based group of people to do planning to ensure balance
  • Need to involve people throughout the process (examples from Belize- stakeholder involvement)
  • Bottom-up management should be the norm as top-down does not work
  • Funding is necessary. Some possible sources include Gwaii Trust – communities need to agree that this is what we want to pursue the funds
  • What does it mean to have protected areas where species can develop (ecologically) – don’t want to lose their functions? Have protected areas where ecosystems can function e.g. kelp beds
  • A problem in fisheries – we need to avoid the maximum utilization idea
    • Should we have no impact? – No, because we are part of the ecosystem
    • How do we decide how much impact is okay?

How do we do EBM?

  • We should figure this out so that if we do get local control, we have a plan and a sense of where we want to go
  • Need local control
  • A decision body should be a commission where everybody is represented
  • Use the knowledge of people here who have experience with land and forestry management

What do we want to get out of EBFM?

  • Sustainable fishing
    • Alongside other consumptive and non-consumptive activities
    • Need to mesh social choices
  • Adaptability
    • We do not know everything but we can ensure that we do not make the wrong decision twice
    • We need to deal adverse incentives that do not lead to responsible decision-making e.g. subsidies
  • The best value of the resource as possible
    • Value-added production
    • Developing markets for species currently wasted as bait e.g. razor clams used as halibut bait
    • Secondary production
      • Need to test for shellfish toxins and create market
      • Reduce regulatory red tape (limitations created by regulations, health testing etc., provincial jurisdiction over health inspection and health Canada, corporation co-opted pursuit of centralized decision-making by province and reluctance to provide a local inspector) about the production and selling of local products to local markets
      • Possible solution to have CHN lobby Health Canada for a local inspector given it’s capacity to influence government and act outside the law

Issues with current management:

  • What do we do when the natural inclination is to shut down rather than keep the fishery going?
  • The majority of people that fish here do not live here
  • The main problem is control – there is little to no local control. Consequently the benefits are not coming back to the communities
  • Fishing licenses are expensive so only bought by people in Vancouver – people have to fish a larger volume to make their required payments
  • Also large agencies buy up licenses but the actual fishing is done by (sometimes local) financially burdened individuals

Solutions to current management issues:

  • Adjust the quota system so that local people can get more control
  • Need both top-down and bottom-up planning to address EBFM

Other issues:

  • There are costs of living in a small community that limit people’s ability to actively pursue change. For example:
    • Loss of jobs
    • To make things happen you have to ‘suffer’ for it
    • The Islands has a hundred heads wearing a thousand hats – conflict of interest issues, insecurity issues, etc. makes it difficult to do things

What would happen if you could co-manage with DFO to decide how much should be allocated to Haida Gwaii and how much can be allocated to Vancouver? What are the rules of EBFM if we had more local control?

  • We need knowledge. However, even without a lot of knowledge, we can practice the precautionary principle
  • We do not manage fish but rather manage what people do that impacts fish
  • Therefore, we need people who understand people better in addition to the customary biologists that manage fisheries
  • We are the largest predator – we would be unsuccessful predators if we didn’t pay attention to other predators
  • Analogies of fisheries management:
    • We don’t wait to run out of gas to stop driving e.g. as has happened with the abalone fishery that was virtually wiped out before it was stopped
    • We also don’t generally drive a car without a fuel gauge on – therefore we need to figure out what those indicators are that give us a sense of how much fish is out there
    • Managing a fishery is like driving – we want to go somewhere but we have other considerations – e.g. other drivers on the road, environmental conditions, quality of our vehicle etc.
  • Diplomacy options:
    • CHN government can negotiate with Federal and Provincial governments for equal governance of resources
    • Court option being pursued but is expensive

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What are priority issues for Haida Gwaii? How can we work towards defining solutions?
Host: Lynn Lee


Issues identified:

  • Make it simple for the broad Islands community to engage in the importance of marine ecosystems for human communities.
  • Educate ourselves young and old
  • Have you kissed a fish today? – Car ‘stickers’ or other daily reminders of the need for healthy marine areas
  • Enable local communities to directly benefit from local resources
  • Use resources in a way that is sustainable over generations
  • Create marine use practices that support, maintain and restore long term natural cycles – Doing more with less

What are some things that we can do?

  • Engage - action/research
  • Small group discussions to larger community, e.g. surveys
  • Inform – communicate what’s going on around the Islands
  • Community events – Oceans Day – celebrate the Haida Gwaii way!
  • Action!


How do we live together on Haida Gwaii, tackle priority issues and build a marine plan? What are the next steps? How do we get communities/people involved? We as a community need to buy into ‘the process’.

  • Use ‘focus groups’ throughout the communities with a broad range of people to engage all levels of interest and concern.
  • Lessons learned from land use planning:
    • Build a group that best represents everybody and their interests, and with participants that communicate well (with others at the table and with people/interests that they represent) and trust one another.
    • Have the bulk of the knowledge base up front at the start of the process – in the land use process the info came long after the start and participants were not able to engage in as informed a discussion as possible during the process.
    • For marine planning the data should be ready and available before the process begins so we can make intelligent decisions.
  • How are you going to get the fisherman involved in the process when they see that is doesn’t affect them. How do we convince them that it is important to them and affect them in a positive way? How can we support the process knowing what we need is limited to us in the future? How can you create an objective that is tangible that they can buy into?
    • Maybe there needs to be an action/research interest – create that interest level.
    • There have been significant effects on fishers. Twenty years ago there were 50 trollers living in and working from Masset and Haida Gwaii had a vibrant fishing community that lived here. The shellfish fisheries developed since the 80’s involve far less (almost no) local fisherman. Now less than ten troll licenses live on the entire Islands. Local fishermen want to use the resources (fish) and bring benefits back into the community. That is the way it used to be, people lived off the land and the resources were kept here.
    • Talk to the fisherman who have licenses, people who use the resources for food, engage with them to convince. If we do all these things maybe the government will listen and pay attention. The fishermen are throwing in the towel because they believe the government won’t pay attention.
  • How does Gwaii Haanas (GH) fit into local planning?
    • Once the process is initiated, GH will be on-going. At present GH is an internal government process that will eventually unfold and involve the community.
    • GH can be a tool that communities can use to enact the changes that they believe are necessary in marine management. There is a lot of fear around protected areas and taking our resources away, but we need to reverse that. The protected areas need to be done in the right way to benefit local people and not simply take rights away.

How do you go through a process around how to create protected areas and ecosystem-based management when the vast majority of people who use these are areas are not local?

  • For example, the GH process would involve many interests local and off-Island, and involve different spatial scales of consultation.
  • When you talk to Islanders, they don’t want those resources to be monopolized by fisherman off-Island. For example, the geoduck fishery is almost a closed shop – 55 license holders and they all live off-Island.
  • There will be immediate issues we can take action on and other issues that will need to be addressed over a longer time like the geoduck fishery. Can we change current policy and licensing situation? How can we bring/buy back licenses into local communities?
  • People may see taking action on policies as inconceivable, but that does not mean people should not voice concern and take action to initiate change.

How do we get people to take action? It is difficult to get the momentum going because it is not something we have to do – it is not a crisis yet.

  • Need to address local needs and wants. Identify what is important to the communities. Local people want resources to be here for generations to come. This affects all of us.
  • Need to get people to ‘go through that door’ and realize that we need to protect our interests. We can effect change.
  • Need to spend time talking to people and persuade them ‘through the door’ so they will open up their vision. We have to do this at a very personal level.
  • First thing is talking to people one on one, what kind of tie do you have to the ocean – spiritual, emotional, financial? Build on that.
  • Suggestion to have some kind of survey for Island circulation on how important the ocean is to you? Something as simple as that and a combination of verbal survey etc.
  • Address issues that are up front and important to people. For example, 5 lodges have moved into Masset and there are supposed to be 6 more. Government needs to realize they have to say no to things like this, not just the average Joe. First Nations people do not take more than what you have to take for your own use. The sports fisherman don’t do that. Even crab fishing is getting worse, more people.
  • Will takes a lot of money and resources.

How do you enact all these things?

  • You can set limits and protected areas for local and First Nations value. Put community restrictions on use of the area. We have Haida Fisheries here and we have to start using our resources.
  • People in the community have to step up and say ‘enough is enough,’ this is why and this is what we are going to do about.
  • Engage people at public meetings, kitchen tables talks – build relationships with individual people
  • Get a big body of people to demonstrate that they are concerned and unified.
  • Small community, everybody knows everybody
  • Identify what the issues are and start with those (crabbing in NB) etc. There are some greed issues that have taken place – How do we stop that?

What are the issues that are important to us?

  • North Beach recreational crab fishery – We could do something about this. You have to do what you say, there has to be a consequence and enforcement. Start with education, values, and over time things will change but we can’t expect it to happen overnight. In the meantime there are things we can do – identify specific goals
  • Fish farms – open-net cage fish farms. Is already a Declaration against opening them around the Islands initiated by Islanders and signed on by a wide cross-section of people somewhere. Need to find that.
  • Offshore oil and gas development is not welcome
  • How to bring the resources around the Islands back into the communities?
  • Is there a way to put a cap, enough is enough, on development like lodges?
  • Need to find the resources (funding) to do the work
  • Value-added processing is one good way to create local benefits
  • Value the food that is caught here and use it all
  • Value added – taking less for more
  • Identify what the value is for each individual person
  • Look at what scale, zoning, you can use a marine plan to secure these needs
  • We need to get control over what is happening here on Haida Gwaii
  • Learn from other people, communities and their mistakes
  • How do we get control over marine resources around Haida Gwaii before there is nothing left?
  • We need to take all the information and make intelligent decisions

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Closing Discussion

  • When are we going to start doing? Sense of frustration expressed that we need to start acting now on some of the issues that we have been talking about. Need to get the larger Islands community engaged in marine issues and act now.
  • Commitment to keeping participants and the larger Islands community updated about developments in marine planning initiatives that affect Haida Gwaii.
  • Commitment to keep compiling information to inform the Islands community about marine ecosystems and marine use around Haida Gwaii.
  • Anticipation that small working group discussions to develop Island solutions will follow this November.
  • Haaw7a to all participants for their interest, motivation and discussions through the day.

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