Vancouver (British Columbia), March 6, 2018 – Understanding our oceans better is a critical step toward protecting them more effectively and ensuring they are healthy and abundant for the future. That’s why Oceana Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Heiltsuk and Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nations, Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA) and Ocean Networks Canada are partnering to explore areas of high ecological, cultural and economic significance – joined by Alexandra Cousteau, filmmaker, Oceana Senior Advisor and granddaughter of Jacques-Yves Cousteau – in the Central Coast of British Columbia from March 7-14, 2018.
The expedition, which will take place on the Canadian Coast Guard ship CCGS Vector, will explore Kynoch Inlet fjords, Seaforth Channel and Fitz Hugh Sound. These areas have high significance for the Heiltsuk and Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nations, who for millennia have been managing and stewarding the marine resources that are crucial for their cultural and human well-being. Building on a wealth of traditional knowledge, decades of First Nation-led science, and DFO, Oceana Canada and Ocean Networks Canada’s technology and science expertise, the expedition will focus on sites below depths of 200 metres where almost no scientific exploration has occurred.
Canadians are encouraged to take part and witness the wonder of ocean exploration with:
● Behind-the-scenes videos featuring scientific experts, Nation members and Alexandra Cousteau;
● Underwater footage of reefs, rockfish, corals, sponges and basket stars captured using DFO’s submersible drop-camera transmitted via satellite onboard in real-time through Ocean Networks Canada’s Oceans 2.0 platform;
● Images and livestreams narrated by ocean experts; and
● Community events and youth engagement activities at schools in Klemtu and Bella Bella.
The expedition will collect data that will help identify ecologically important areas for marine planning, protect vulnerable species – such as rockfish – and habitat that have a high conservation value from human threats. It will also support the Government of Canada’s commitment to protect 10 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2020.
Alexandra Cousteau, filmmaker, Oceana Senior Advisor and granddaughter of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
“We are all connected to our oceans, which are vitally important for a healthy planet. They provide us with a source of sustainable protein, recreation and inspiration as well as jobs and income for coastal communities. By uncovering the mysteries of our oceans through exploration, we can protect important marine habitats and rebuild fish populations to abundance, ensuring future generations inherit healthy oceans that support thriving coastal communities.”
The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada
“As the Minister for Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, I am pleased that DFO is working closely with our key partners to gather crucial information we need to make informed decisions on how to protect our aquatic species and habitats for current and future generations. I am especially proud that we are working in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, Oceana Canada and Ocean Networks Canada to improve our understanding of the area and local species, so we can work together toward the shared goal of conservation.”
Doug Neasloss, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais Nation,
The Kitasoo/Xai’Xais takes responsibility for all the resources in our territory. While there is still much work to do to conserve our marine environment and ensure our indigenous laws are reflected in all marine management decisions, partnerships like this expedition are important steps toward our conservation and management goals. We look forward to working with the Government of Canada to use the information from this expedition to establish important marine protection in our territory.
Mike Reid, Aquatics Manager, Heiltsuk Nation
“Heiltsuk has had a life-sustaining reciprocal relationship with our territory and the resources within it for more than 700 generations. We have a responsibility to care for the resources and have undertaken extensive marine planning efforts in recent years. We are encouraged that the partnerships in this expedition are a step in the right direction toward working together to restore the balance to our resources and in our ecosystems.”
Maia Hoeberechts, Associate Director, User Services, Ocean Networks Canada
“This expedition is a true example of how stewardship of the ocean can best be achieved through partnership among non-governmental organizations, First Nations, scientists, and government. I’m excited to find out what Indigenous knowledge, collected over thousands of years and continuing to the present, and science, two rich and complementary sources of information, will help us learn about these unique fjord habitats on the central coast of British Columbia.”
● Deep fjord channel environments are unique ecosystems where marine life flourishes. Home to complex rocky reefs with a high diversity of rockfish, corals, sponges and basket stars, these habitats act as nurseries and spawning grounds for fish populations that depend on them for their populations to grow and thrive.
● Science, Indigenous, traditional and local knowledge play a key role in determining what kind of protection is needed and where. The expedition builds on the extensive marine planning work that Central Coast First Nations have developed for their territories and contributes to advancing management of Marine Conservation Zones and areas identified in DFO’s Marine Protected Area Network plan.
● Through Budget 2018, the Government of Canada is investing in the next generation of Canadian research and researchers—including increasing the number of women, underrepresented groups, and early-career researchers—by proposing $1.2 billion over five years to the granting councils for fundamental research to provide increased support and training opportunities for researchers, students, and high-quality personnel.
ABOUT THE EXPEDITION PARTNERS
Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with an ocean surface area of 7.1 million square kilometres, or 70 per cent of its landmass. Oceana Canada believes that Canada has a national and global obligation to manage our natural resources responsibly and help ensure a sustainable source of protein for the world’s growing population. Oceana Canada works with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits, and protect our future. oceana.ca
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)’s Science At-Sea Program
DFO’s Science At-Sea Program includes more than 130 annual scientific missions and delivers scientific information and advice needed to support the Government’s evidence-based policy development and decision-making. The overarching goal of the Science At-Sea program is to collect key information necessary for the safe navigation and sustainable management of Canada’s oceans and aquatic resources for the benefit of current and future generations.
Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA)
CCIRA was born from the belief that resources should be managed in a manner that ensures they continue to provide for future generations, and a recognition that Central Coast First Nations can better realize our goal of sustainable environments, and healthy local economies and communities by working together.
Our Nations have been working together informally on resource management issues for decades. Most recently we have been developing comprehensive marine use plans for our territories and for the Central Coast region. In March, 2010 the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’Xais, Nuxalk and Wuikinuxv Nations formalized our relationship and signed a declaration to foster a strong working relationship between our Nations and through a common voice, ensure our ecosystems return to a healthy balance, while respecting our cultures, advancing our peoples’ well-being and enhancing our economies.
Heiltsuk Territory encompasses 16,658 square kilometres of land as well as extensive nearshore and offshore waters in an area that has only recently come to be known as the Central Coast of BC. According to nuy̓ṃ̓ or oral tradition, Heiltsuk has had a reciprocal relationship with these lands and waters for countless generations. The Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department (HIRMD) is located in Bella Bella, BC and provides technical advice to the Heiltsuk Tribal Council. HIRMD is responsible for land and marine use planning, managing the land and fisheries programs, implementing forestry initiatives, implementing the Reconciliation Protocol Agreement and other related agreements, and the protection of Heiltsuk culture and heritage.
The Kitasoo/Xai’Xais have always had a land and resource plan for our lands and oceans and the creatures they harbour. It lives in our heritage, in our oral history and in our everyday decisions as to where we collect our food, and where we fish and harvest our trees. Our vision for our land and resources is based on the best definition of the term sustainable. To us this means the wealth of the forests, fish, wildlife and the complexity of all life will be here forever. It also means that we will be here forever. To remain here as the Kitasoo and Xai’Xais people we need to protect, manage and enhance the resources and our culture in order to ultimately protect our heritage. We also need to live in the modern world and have jobs to sustain our families and community. No one speaks for us. Mutual respect and understanding comes from meeting with us and gaining an understanding of our people and our lands. Listen, learn, and understand, then we can work together.
Ocean Networks Canada
Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), an initiative of the University of Victoria, monitors the west and east coasts of Canada and the Arctic to continuously deliver data in real-time for scientific research that helps communities, governments, and industry make informed decisions about our future. Using cabled observatories, remote control systems and interactive sensors, and big data management, ONC enables evidence-based decision-making on ocean management, marine safety and environmental protection. ONC has been working in collaboration with educators, students, communities and Indigenous Peoples on ocean monitoring initiatives along British Columbia’s coast and in the Arctic for the past five years.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
● Sabina Wex, Pilot PMR
416-462-0199 x 250, firstname.lastname@example.org
● Zoryana Cherwick, Pilot PMR
416-462-0199 x 232, email@example.com
● Fisheries and Oceans Canada Media Inquiries
● Vincent Hughes, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada