The Gwaii Haanas Crest

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site

A Symbol of Balance and Interconnectedness

Haida art Sea otter with sea urchin on belly.
     Archipelago Management Board crest.

The crest of the Archipelago Management Board is a unique design by local Haida artist, Giitsxaa. The sea otter and the sea urchin were chosen because of their significance in the ecological and cultural history of Gwaii Haanas.

Kelp forests are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Historically in Gwaii Haanas, populations of sea urchins, which feed heavily on kelp, were kept in check by sea otters. This ensured an abundance of kelp and provided habitat for many species, from sea stars to fish and marine mammals. Haida and sea otters coexisted on Haida Gwaii for millennia and the two have a deep traditional relationship.

With the extirpation of sea otters during the maritime fur trade era, the natural balance was disrupted. The sea urchin population increased dramatically. Underwater barrens replaced many rich kelp forests. The historic loss of the sea otter is a powerful reminder of the vulnerability of individual species and entire ecosystems.

Sea otters have now naturally returned to Haida Gwaii. Their return will bring ecological and cultural changes in the coming decades. Their return offers us a chance to reflect on our past with sea otters and consider a new relationship based on historic connections and today's values.

What is the Archipelago Management Board?

The Archipelago Management Board (AMB) governs the planning, operations and management of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site. The AMB is made up of an equal number of members representing the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada. Parks Canada represented Canada prior to the signing of the Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement in 2010, and in 2011 Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) joined this cooperative management board.


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