Gwaii Haanas, a.k.a. the big park at the bottom of the Queen Charlottes, is a soaking wet, big tree, crashing waves kind of place. It’s wet and it is wild. It’s a pounding ecosystem with shocking beauty and mega biodiversity.
The ocean feeds this land. Without a healthy ocean, full of fish, the land suffers. Nutrients don’t wash up on shore and the eagles and bears don’t have fatty fish to eat.
This mystical land of Gwaii Haanas is a perfect example of the land-sea relationship — completely co-dependent. So the Canadian and B.C. governments need to protect the sea as well as the land. But therein lies the problem: we don’t protect seascapes very often. In fact, less than one per cent of Canada’s ocean is protected. Shocking, when more than 10 per cent of Canada’s land has protection.
Canada needs to get wet, if we want to live up to our international reputation for wilderness. And British Columbians need to fight for marine protection so B.C. can earn its Super, Natural label. We are a coastal province and if we degrade water ecosystems, we also degrade our land. B.C. needs marine protected areas — think of them like sea parks, where humans must be very careful.
At least half the water around Gwaii Haanas should have the strictest protection from damaging use. Any less would have little chance of representing and maintaining ecosystems in the broader region. Canada needs to pound out big-time marine protection for this place.
– Kai Chan is an assistant professor and Canada Research Chair at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (IRES) at UBC.