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Friday, July 22, 2011

Haida Gwaii Slideshow

Guest Blogger Kim Wright here - reporting in from the beach (seriously - there is wi-fi out here!).

In June I was lucky enough to go to a place that’s captured my imagination for years: Haida Gwaii. This island group is truly the land of legend where a sense of magic hangs in the misty air. I got to go there in my role as representative to the conservation sector to attend meetings on ocean management for the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA).

Planning can be pretty “meeting-hall” focused, as creating a vision for PNCIMA’s future requires hours of talk between all the interested parties. But in Haida Gwaii we were able to draw on the local environment and the past for inspiration. Early one morning we got into zodiac boats and circumnavigated Louise Island, stopping at Skedans, an abandoned Haida village site. Skedans was one of the larger Haida villages in the southern islands, but it was abandoned in the 1880s near the end of the smallpox epidemic that killed 90 percent of the Haida population. Now deer wander among the remains of mossy, mortuary poles that tell long forgotten stories from the once thriving community.

Our tour served as a reminder that humans have been part of the beauty and the bounty of these islands for many thousands of years, and that our place in these ecosystems can be extremely fragile. Skedans, also known as K'uuna Linagaay (Point Town), is now part of the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area.

Our tour group was made up of representatives from the many industries that have a stake in PNCIMA: Oil and Gas, Renewable Energy, Commercial Fisheries, Sport Fishing, Local Governments, Recreation, Tourism, Aquaculture and others. Together, we form the Integrated Oceans Advisory Committee (IOAC) which will advise the Government and First Nations Steering Committee on marine planning issues for the PNCIMA process.

Each of us had a unique experience that day. Spending time surrounded by such beauty was a real gift that reinforced my goal at the IOAC meetings: to ensure ecosystem integrity from the mountain ranges of the Great Bear Rainforest to the sponge reefs of the sea floor.

Logging off until next time: back to the beach and the sand between my toes.

Kim Wright is the Marine Planning and Protected Areas Campaign Manager for the Living Oceans Society.

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