Marine Shipping and Safety

A variety of initiatives are underway involving the Council of the Haida Nation and other governments with regard to existing shipping and vessel traffic in Haida Gwaii waters.

These initiatives are being driven by the Haida Gwaii Marine Plan, which provides management direction to prevent accidents and spills and respond if there is an accident. In addition, discussions are taking place with Canada as part of a broader process, established through the Reconciliation Framework Agreement for Bioregional Oceans Management and Protection (RFA). This process involves CHN and fourteen other First Nations and uses an ecosystem approach to work on marine planning, marine shipping and safety, and oceans management and protection. Initiatives that are being completed through the RFA process include implementation of the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA), Marine Protected Area (MPA) network planning, as well as several projects related to oceans protection and management and marine shipping and safety, and oceans protection that are outlined below.

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A Safe Distance Offshore

What

In 2014, the Russian cargo ship Simushir came dangerously close to going aground and causing a major oil spill on the west coast of Haida Gwaii. This near miss was a stark reminder of the need for ongoing planning and action to protect our coast and marine resources over the long term. Since early 2018,

CHN has been working with the federal government and others to determine how far from shore commercial ships need to be in order for an emergency rescue tug to reach them before they drift ashore.

Why

Ensuring transiting large ships stay a safe distance offshore of the west coast of Haida Gwaii is one component of incident prevention. The west coast of Haida Gwaii is selected first because of the area’s remoteness and associated challenges with response. Other areas of Haida Gwaii are also being considered.

Where

The waters off the west coast of Haida Gwaii.

Who

CHN and the federal government are working with the Pacific Pilotage Authority, shipping industry, stakeholders, and research organizations, including Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Shipping, on this initiative.

Status

In progress.

 

Haida Gwaii Marine Awareness Project

What

CHNfederal and provincial governments are collaborating to increase awareness of shipping issues and monitor shipping traffic around Haida Gwaii. The project aims to build on local capacity to prepare for and respond to marine emergencies and to implement preventative marine shipping and safety objectives in Haida Gwaii marine plans. As part of the project, CHN is working with Transport Canada to pilot the Enhanced Maritime Situational Awareness (EMSA) System – an interactive, web-based Geographic Information System that shows near real-time vessel traffic data and other marine and coastal information.

Why

The purpose of the Haida Gwaii Marine Awareness project is to improve understanding of marine traffic and the risks posed by current and potential increases in traffic around Haida Gwaii using near real-time and historic data. This project aims to improve information sharing to enable collaborative decision-making by CHN with other governments and improve capacity to respond to marine emergencies and Haida oversight in accident prevention and preparedness.

Where

A Haida Gwaii Marine Awareness Planning office is located next to the CHN office in HlGaagilda Skidegate, where a computerized monitoring system is being used by CHN Marine Planning staff to identify and manage vessel traffic and serve to support an Incident Command Post in case of an emergency and training exercises.

Who

CHN, federal and provincial governments, with municipal government involvement.

Status

In progress.

 

Training

What

CHN has been working with the Canadian Coast Guard to train Haida citizens, CHN staff and other island residents in marine environmental emergency response. To date, training has included:

Incident Command System (ICS)
Essentials of Marine Oil Spill Response Training
Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Technique
Geographic Response Strategy Development

In 2019, CHN hosted over 30 participants from five federal government agencies, and the municipal governments of Gamadiis Port Clements and Daajing Giids Queen Charlotte in a tabletop exercise. The ‘Gwaay Exercise’ had participants using their ICS training and response planning skills to respond to a hypothetical scenario involving a container ship losing cargo and spilling oil and noxious substances.

Why

CHN is prioritizing prevention initiatives, such as the Safe Distance Offshore initiative. However, Haida Gwaii is next to major international shipping routes and vulnerable to accidents, so it is necessary to be prepared for a possible response. Through these training activities, the CHN is preparing to take a lead role alongside other levels of government in coordinating emergency response. Increased local capacity will reduce the time it takes to respond to an environmental emergency, which may help to reduce impacts to Haida Gwaii’s ecosystems and way of life.

Where

Haida Gwaii.

Who

CHN and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Status

In progress.

 

Marine Environmental Emergency Response Planning

What

CHN is currently working with other First Nations, the provincial government, Canadian Coast Guard, and other federal agencies to develop a marine environmental emergency response plan for the Northern Shelf Bioregion. This plan will include directing partners on roles and responsibilities, incident preparedness, incident management systems, and use of unified command in decision making. CHN is also developing site-specific oil spill Geographic Response Strategies and working with Gwaii Haanas and MaPP to identify equipment and training needs.

Why

The MaPP sub-regional marine plans and Regional Action Framework recognize there are insufficient planning, preparedness and response measures, and capacity, in place to deal with marine incidents of any size. Detailed Geographic Response Plans which identify and prioritize sensitive sites on Haida Gwaii and provide logistical information to support an environmental response are now being worked on with local experts, including Haida traditional knowledge holders, in order to prepare the communities to better handle an incident.

Where

The Northern Shelf Bioregion. North to south, the bioregion extends from the Canada–U.S. border in the north to Quadra Island and Brooks Peninsula in the south. West to east, the area extends from the base of the continental shelf off of Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island to the coast of BC.

Who

CHN, federal government, other First Nations and the provincial government, including the Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP). MaPP is an initiative for the North Pacific Coast, involving BC and First Nations through which the Haida Gwaii Marine Plan was completed in 2015.

Status

In progress.

Places of Refuge Contingency Planning

What

After the Simushir near-miss incident in 2014, the CHN started working with other governments to ensure that a coordinated and effective emergency response system was established for Haida Gwaii. The coordinated work between the Council of the Haida Nation and the federal government resulted in the release of a Places of Refuge Contingency Plan for the Pacific Region in 2017. The Haida Gwaii Annex in this plan was co-developed and identifies potential places of refuge around Haida Gwaii – sheltered places where a ship in distress can anchor.

Why

In the past, the federal government would determine a place of refuge for a ship in distress solely based on the available navigational and logistical information. By co-developing this revised version of the Places of Refuge Contingency Plan, including the Haida Gwaii Annex, the CHN is ensuring that the CHN will be part of this decision-making process, and that both traditional and local knowledge, as well as additional ecological and socio-economic information, is considered in this process.

Where

Several Places of Refuge are identified around the coastline of Haida Gwaii.

Who

CHN, federal and provincial governments.

Status

The plan was completed in 2017 and is now being implemented.