West Coast First Nations, feds reach tentative understanding on vast offshore region

The west coast of Vancouver Island is 133,019 square kilometers and is characterized by deep-sea hydrothermal vents and seamounts surrounded by a vibrant coastal ecosystem.

Identified by authorities as the “Pacific Offshore Area of ​​Interest”, also known as Tang.ɢwan-ḥačxʷiqak-Tsig̱is, its future has been the focus of intense and groundbreaking discussions between West Coast indigenous peoples and the federal government, which may have already taken place a milestone.

After years of negotiation, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), the Haida Nation, the Nuchanur Tribal Council, the Pachedat Aboriginal and the Quartsino Aboriginal have reached an agreement in principle on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will Loaded as a marine protected area.

They are now submitting the MoU to their respective leadership for approval.

“We’re interested because we really want to make sure our fishing areas are managed and protected,” said Judith Sayers, chairman of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC). Chance.”

Sayers said that through this MoU, it is hoped that countries and the DFO will be able to establish a co-management arrangement representing the Haida Nation, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, the Pacheedaht Aboriginal, the Quatsino Aboriginal and the DFO.

“To date, we’ve never done this with DFO,” Sayers said.

Sayers said that the two sides met and negotiated many times and completed a large number of draft memorandums of understanding. “This has been a long and difficult negotiation, and it would have been a lot easier if the Department of Fisheries and Oceans had been more open,” Sayers said.

Sayers said she thought the DFOs were more cooperative at the end of the talks because they strongly wanted the region to be an MPA and countries were reluctant to budge on certain things.

“It’s always been a compromise on the deal,” Sayers said. “We all got enough out of it that we said ‘yes’ to this draft agreement.”

The negotiating team failed to achieve all of its goals. Sayers said they were unable to reach dispute resolution terms.

“We inserted the strongest possible language to make sure we had a voice in the field,” Sayers said.

Sayers said the agreement did not necessarily qualify for co-governance, as Nuu-chah-nulth did not have the final say, but she shared that they had “cooperation and collaboration” to build a system that they could protect and protect together. Regulate the area.

Sayers said the proposed marine protected area would not affect Nuchanur’s right to use the sea.

“Our right to use this territory, you know, the waters is still intact and nothing can change that,” Sayers said.

“Fisheries and Oceans Canada recognizes this is an opportunity to advance our partnership with Indigenous Peoples by working together to protect and protect this unique ecosystem,” the DFO wrote in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa.

“The MoU will establish a management committee comprising Aboriginal and DFO members to collaboratively manage the proposed MPA,” it reads.

Uu-a-thluk’s protected area planner Danielle Burrows was also part of the negotiating team as support staff.

Burrows said the priority for the country and the MoU was to have an Indigenous perspective. “They’ve always approached things with an insular, colonialist, conciliatory attitude,” Burrows said. “And our view … is to use the culture and language to inform the MoU and try to bring the UNDRIP into it and hold Canada accountable.”

Recently, the negotiating team made two demands to the Harvey Parliament. One was a decision on the MoU, and the other was in support of the dual designation of the area, which would be mandated by the Ha’wiih Council and bear the Nuu-chah-nulth name, Burrows said.

Burrows said the dual designation of the region would allow countries to gain cultural authority, strengthen their accountability, and be a way of recognizing First Nations governance. Sayers said there is still a process before the area is declared a marine reserve.

Environment Indigenous

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