Management Plan 2018

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

Gwaii Haanas Gina 'Waadluxan KilGuhlGa Land-Sea-People Management Plan 2018

Table of contents

Cover page — Gwaii Haanas Gina ’Waadluxan KilGuhlGa Land-Sea-People Management Plan

© Council of the Haida Nation and Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada, 2018.

Cette publication est aussi disponible en français.

Gwaii Haanas Gina 'Waadluxan KilGuhlGa Land-Sea-People Management Plan, 2018

  • R64-464/2018E-PDF
  • 978-0-660-27509-3

For more information about the management plan or about Gwaii Haanas:

Mailing address:
   Location: Archipelago Management Board
     Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve,
     National Marine Conservation Area Reserve,
     and Haida Heritage Site
     P.O. Box 37, Queen Charlotte, BC

   Fax number:  250-559-8366

Front cover image credits

© Jason Shafto/Full Moon Photo


On behalf of the Council of the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada, we are pleased to present the Gwaii Haanas Gina ‘Waadluxan KilGuhlGa Land-Sea-People Management Plan.

Gina ‘Waadluxan KilGuhlGa means “talking about everything”. The plan sets direction for the Archipelago Management Board (AMB) to manage Gwaii Haanas from mountaintop to seafloor as a single, interconnected ecosystem. It outlines a shared vision for the future, includes guiding principles based on Haida cultural values, describes the AMB’s goals and objectives for the next ten years, and provides zoning for the land and sea.

At the heart of Gwaii Haanas is the relationship at the AMB table, where Haida Nation and Government of Canada representatives sit together to make consensus decisions. This plan reflects the experience and knowledge the AMB has gained through decades of cooperative management, making decisions that respect dual authorities and laws.

During the course of plan development, the AMB worked with an advisory committee, Haida and local communities, and stakeholder groups including the fishing, tourism, conservation and shipping sectors. These groups shaped and strengthened the plan, and demonstrated that more can be achieved when we work together.

This plan is a significant accomplishment for both governments. It increases protection of the marine area, confirms and strengthens the role of the AMB in fisheries management, and commits to managing all fisheries to the highest standard using an ecosystem-based management framework. For the Haida Nation, the plan also advances a long-term vision and fulfills a responsibility to manage and protect this Haida Heritage Site based on traditional knowledge and laws. For Canada, it is the first management plan for a National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and the first integrated management plan for a linked terrestrial and marine protected area.

The Land-Sea-People plan provides a blueprint for responsible and respectful stewardship that will ensure the continuity of Haida culture and protect the natural heritage of Gwaii Haanas for future generations. We are grateful for the hard work, cooperative spirit and continued commitment of everyone involved. Haawa (thank you) and congratulations to all!


President Lantin
Vice-president Russ
Minister McKenna
Minister Wilkinson 

1.0 Introduction

“These shining islands may be the signposts that point the way to a renewed harmonious relationship with this, the only world we’re ever going to have.”

Bill Reid, Islands at the Edge

Gwaii Haanas is an ecological and cultural treasure. Located in southern Xaayda Gwaay (Haida Gwaii), an archipelago situated off the north Pacific coast, Gwaii Haanas is a 5,000 km2 protected area known for its diverse ecosystems, distinct flora and fauna, living Haida culture, and cooperative management model.

Haida oral traditions tell of the origins of Haida Gwaii, the supernaturals and the kuuniisii (Haida ancestors), who came out of the ocean. Kuuniisii lived in villages throughout Gwaii Haanas and governed through a clan system to manage relationships between the land, sea and people. The rich abundance of Haida Gwaii sustained clans and communities for thousands of years through to the present day, defining a culture rooted in the relationship between humans and the natural and supernatural worlds.

Environmental change has shaped the ecological and human history of the archipelago since ice disappeared from the coast of Haida Gwaii more than 15,000 years ago. A tundra landscape was slowly replaced by coastal rainforest. Archaeological evidence of human occupation dates back at least 12,000 years, where remains of the oldest known coastal sites have been found underwater, reflecting major changes in sea levels.

The first recorded European contact on Haida Gwaii occurred in 1774 and initiated a period of rapid economic, social and cultural change. The kuu (sea otter) trade fueled many of these changes and had significant ecological consequences, including the loss of sea otter in Haida Gwaii waters. Over the course of a century, introduced diseases such as smallpox and influenza reduced the Haida population from tens of thousands to approximately six hundred by the late 1800s.

The formation of Canada in 1867 and the Province of British Columbia in 1871 marked the beginning of an era of industrial extraction on Haida Gwaii that included whaling, mining, logging and fishing. By the 1970s, concern was growing over the impacts of these industries on culturally and ecologically important species and areas, resulting in awareness campaigns and litigation to protect the Gwaii Haanas area. In 1981, building on earlier efforts by Haida community members to protect southern Haida Gwaii, the Skidegate Band Council formally established the Haida Gwaii Watchmen Program. Four years later, the Haida Nation led the Athlii Gwaii blockade on Tllga Kun Gwaay.yaay (Lyell Island) that drew international attention and eventually resulted in the protection and cooperative management of Gwaii Haanas.

The Gwaii Haanas area, both land and sea, was formally designated in 1985 by the Haida Nation as a Haida Heritage Site. Canada and British Columbia subsequently committed to protect Gwaii Haanas through the designation of a national park reserve and a surrounding marine protected area in the South Moresby Memorandum of Understanding (1987) and the South Moresby Agreement (1988).

The Gwaii Haanas Agreement, which was signed in 1993, describes how the terrestrial area of Gwaii Haanas will be managed cooperatively by the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada through the Archipelago Management Board (AMB). Although the two parties have differing views on ownership of Gwaii Haanas, they agree that:

The Archipelago will be maintained and made use of so as to leave it unimpaired for the benefit, education and enjoyment of future generations. More specifically, all actions related to the planning, operation and management of the Archipelago will respect the protection and preservation of the environment, the Haida culture, and the maintenance of a benchmark for science and human understanding.

Gwaii Haanas Agreement, 1993

In 2010, Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve (NMCAR) was established and the Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement was signed. This agreement expanded the AMB’s role to include planning, operation and management of the Gwaii Haanas marine area and increased the board’s membership from four to six. The AMB is presently comprised of three representatives of the Council of the Haida Nation and three representatives of the Government of Canada (two Parks Canada, one Fisheries and Oceans Canada). The parties agree that:

The Gwaii Haanas Marine Area shall be regarded with the highest degree of respect and will be managed in an ecologically sustainable manner that meets the needs of present and future generations, without compromising the structure and function of the ecosystems.

Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement, 2010

This management plan sets strategic direction for the management and operation of Gwaii Haanas from mountaintop to seafloor. The plan outlines a vision for the future of Gwaii Haanas and describes the AMB’s goals and objectives for the next ten years. Central to the vision for Gwaii Haanas is the recognition that land, sea and people are interconnected.

Figure 1. Gwaii Haanas regional setting.
Map showing the location of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve off the mainland of British Columbia

2.0 Vision

Gwaii Haanas is known as one of the world’s ecological and cultural treasures. Cooperatively managed by the Council of the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada, Gwaii Haanas is a recognized leader in integrated and adaptive management, ensuring that protection, restoration and ecologically sustainable use opportunities are mutually achieved.

Managed with innovation and foresight, Gwaii Haanas exists for present and future generations. Its natural magnificence and rich, living Haida culture contribute to the social, cultural and economic well-being of island communities and provide exceptional learning and enjoyment opportunities. In Gwaii Haanas, the seamless interconnection of the land, sea and people is understood and celebrated.

3.0 Guiding Principles

These guiding principles are based on ethics and values from Haida law. They were adapted to support planning on Haida Gwaii and have been modified for the Gwaii Haanas context. They align with principles of ecosystem-based management described in scientific, planning and management literature (Table 1).

Yahguudang—Respect. We respect each other and all living things. We take only what we need, we give thanks, and we acknowledge those who behave accordingly.

‘Laa guu ga kanhllns—Responsibility.We accept the responsibility to manage and care for the land and sea together. We work with others to ensure that the natural and cultural heritage of Gwaii Haanas is passed on to future generations.

Gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagid—Interconnectedness. Everything depends on everything else. Healthy ecosystems sustain culture, communities, and an abundant diversity of life, for generations to come.

Giid tlljuus—Balance. The world is as sharp as the edge of a knife. Balance is needed in our interactions with the natural world. Care must be taken to avoid reaching a point of no return and to restore balance where it has been lost. All practices in Gwaii Haanas must be sustainable.

Gina k’aadang.nga gii uu tll k’anguudang—Seeking Wise Counsel. Haida elders teach about traditional ways and how to work in harmony with the natural world. Like the forests, the roots of all people are intertwined. Together we consider new ideas, traditional knowledge, and scientific information that allow us to respond to change in keeping with culture, values and laws.

Isda ad dii gii isda—Giving and Receiving. Reciprocity is an essential practice for interactions with each other and the natural and spiritual worlds. We continually give thanks for the gifts that we receive.

Table 1. Guiding and ecosystem-based management (EBM) principles.
Guiding Principles EBM Principles
Yahguudang—Respect Precautionary approach
‘Laa guu ga kanhllns—Responsibility Inclusive and participatory
Gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagid—Interconnectedness Integrated management
Giid tlljuus—Balance Sustainable use
Gina k’aadang.nga gii uu tll k’anguudang—Seeking Wise Counsel Adaptive management
Isda ad dii gii isda—Giving and Receiving Equitable sharing

4.0 Significance of Gwaii Haanas

Perched at the edge of the continental shelf, Gwaii Haanas (“Islands of Beauty”) is a dynamic and spectacular archipelago of 160 islands. On Daawxuusda (the west coast), upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich waters enhances biological productivity and on KandaliiGwii (the east coast), shallower waters are well-mixed by winds and tides. Gwaii Haanas supports both resident and migratory animals that depend on, and connect, the land, sea and people.

The endemic subspecies of taan (black bear) occurs from the alpine tundra to the intertidal, where it forages on shellfish. Bears and other species such as Guud (bald eagles) transfer marine nutrients to the land during fall chiina (salmon) spawning season by distributing carcasses into the forest. Gwaii Haanas is home to nearly a million seabirds including 22% of the world’s population of sGin xaana (ancient murrelets) and significant populations of haaja (Cassin’s auklets), hlaagwaats’ii (rhinoceros auklets), jiik’iida (storm petrels) and kuuxaana (tufted puffins). Seabirds forage widely at sea and come ashore to breed in coastal colonies. In recent history, the introduction and spread of invasive species have contributed to population declines in seabirds and other animals and plants native to Gwaii Haanas.

Since the beginning, Haida communities have sustained themselves on the abundance of Gwaii Haanas. Haida village sites and seasonal camps are located on the east and west coasts, connected by historic trails. Food harvesting occurs throughout the year, beginning with iinang (herring), which spawn in GawGajaang (Louscoone Inlet) in early March and are followed as they move north. Families spend time gathering food including k’aaw (herring spawn-on-kelp), k’yuu (clams), xaaguu (halibut) and chiina (salmon). Well-used harvesting areas in Gwaii Haanas include K’iid (Burnaby Narrows), T’aanuu Llnagaay (Tanu), T’aanuu Xyangs (Richardson Inlet), Didxwahxyangs (Darwin Sound), and throughout Gandaawuu.ngaay Xyangs (Juan Perez Sound) and Suu Kaahlii (Skincuttle Inlet), as ocean conditions are generally more favourable on the east coast.

SGuuluu Jaad (Foam Woman)

Xaagyah Gwaay.yaay [Bolkus Island] came to the surface, like a reef in the falling tide. On top of it Foam Woman was sitting, and the Families of the Supernatural Being swarm over to it from all sides. Only those were there out of whom the present island families were going to come. Before this, when it was not on the surface, the Supernatural Beings tried to climb on top of it. Foam Woman refused to allow them to. She did not look around aimlessly. She glared at them, then they were afraid, and they went back underwater, and waited for it to come above the surface of the water, as she had said. When a piece of the reef was above the surface, they began to talk over where they were going to settle.

GwaaGanad (Diane Brown)

Gwaii Haanas is also spiritually important. Haida culture is intertwined with all of creation in the land, sea, air and spirit worlds of Haida Gwaii. Humans exist between the undersea and sky worlds, shared with other creatures and supernatural beings. Several Kayxal (raven clans) trace their origin to SGuuluu Jaad (Foam Woman), who arose from a reef in Skincuttle Inlet as sea levels subsided. Oral traditions also speak of other supernaturals that inhabit many places in Gwaii Haanas. Today, many Haida find spiritual connection and inspiration by gathering traditional foods and medicinal plants, working as Haida Gwaii Watchmen, or enjoying time with friends and family. Connecting Haida to the past, present and future of Gwaii Haanas results in improved stewardship and a greater sense of place and belonging.

The cultural significance of Gwaii Haanas has been recognized internationally. The island of SGang Gwaay was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Site in 1981. SGang Gwaay provides a globally significant example of living Haida culture and illustrates the long and enduring relationship between Haida and the land and sea through monumental poles, architecture, and current use of the area.

Following the early fur trade, the natural richness of Gwaii Haanas continued to support industrial activities and the growth of new settlements in Rose Harbour (whaling), Powrivco (logging), Bag Harbour (fishing), Jedway and Ikeda Cove (mining), and other locations. Evidence of this industrial period persists on the Gwaii Haanas landscape, including at Kilslaay Kaajii Sding GawGa (Sedgwick Bay), the site of the logging blockade in 1985. This conflict initiated a turning point in the relationship between the Haida Nation, provincial and federal governments, and local communities with respect to governance of Haida Gwaii.

The designation of Gwaii Haanas as a protected area under Haida and Canadian law represents a rare achievement—the cooperative management of land and sea, from alpine to deep ocean. Twenty-five years after the Gwaii Haanas Agreement was signed, the continued commitment by the Haida Nation and Canada to work together serves as a model for the world.

5.0 Planning Context

This plan sets out the vision and management direction for an interconnected ecosystem of land, sea and people. It fulfils obligations under the Gwaii Haanas Agreement and the Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement as well as the Constitution of the Haida Nation, the Canada National Parks Act and the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act. It also replaces the 2003 Management Plan for the Terrestrial Area and the 2010 Interim Management Plan and Zoning Plan for the Marine Area, and serves to guide management of SGang Gwaay World Heritage Site and National Historic Site and T’aanuu National Historic Site. Management direction has been integrated and advanced through newly developed objectives and targets, and zoning for both the terrestrial and marine areas of Gwaii Haanas.

Good People Working Together

When I think of the many great things that have happened on these islands in my lifetime, I realize they would not have been possible without people, cultures, and nations coming together and building relationships. It is important that we honour each of our identities and that which makes us different, but we are strongest when we focus on what we have in common. Now, more than ever before, we need leaders who can reconcile differences and bring people together to find solutions not just for us today, but for the generations to come.

Ernie Gladstone, Parks Canada, AMB co-chair

The Haida Nation is upholding Haida rights and title to Haida Gwaii and pursuing recognition through the courts and reconciliation with the provincial and federal governments. This plan reflects the current legal context and will be reviewed when rights and title are resolved. In the meantime, all parties continue to work together on various initiatives related to the planning and management of Haida Gwaii. The Haida Nation and the Government of Canada view Gwaii Haanas as an example of reconciliation in action, offering lessons from more than 25 years of experience.

Examples of other planning and management initiatives underway for the area around Gwaii Haanas include implementation of the Haida Gwaii Marine Plan, which was developed under the British Columbia-First Nations Marine Planning Partnership (MaPP), and the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) Plan. The Haida Nation and the Government of Canada are also cooperatively developing a management plan for SGaan Kinghlas-Bowie Seamount Marine Protected Area. First Nations, British Columbia (B.C.) and the Government of Canada are engaged in a Marine Protected Area Network planning process for the Northern Shelf Bioregion, of which Gwaii Haanas is a part. On the land, new protected areas were established through a planning process that resulted in the 2009 Kunst’aa Guu – Kunst’aayah Reconciliation Protocol. This protocol provides a framework for B.C.-Haida Nation decision-making for the terrestrial area outside of Gwaii Haanas.

Each of these processes involves government-to-government cooperative partnerships, with different parties exercising concurrent jurisdiction and authority depending on the scope of the initiative. This multi-layered management environment requires an extraordinary level of coordination. Ensuring that planning and management are aligned and complementary is a priority for all parties.

Although there have been many notable successes, cooperative management of Gwaii Haanas has not been without challenges. Conflict over the commercial herring fishery in Gwaii Haanas in 2014 and 2015 involved court action and strained the relationship between the Haida Nation and Canada. Learning from this experience and moving forward together to manage Gwaii Haanas, including fisheries, is a shared priority.

Haida Herring Sayings

Gandlaay iinang ad sGuuluu Gihl.
Water is bubbling with herring.

iinang k’aayging
School of herring.

K’aaw xawliiyay
Herring roe-on-kelp is delicious.

The recovery of herring and many other species in Gwaii Haanas is influenced by some factors beyond the control of the AMB such as climate change. Rising sea levels, changing ocean conditions and warming temperatures will affect productivity, food web dynamics and species’ ability to respond to change on land and in the sea. Coastal erosion has already impacted sensitive archaeological sites throughout Gwaii Haanas. Human activities, including traditionally based use, commercial fisheries, tourism and vessel traffic, may be affected by these changes. The AMB is committed to mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change in Gwaii Haanas.


6.0 Goals. Objectives and Targets

Management of Gwaii Haanas over the next ten years will be based upon the following goals and objectives. The goals outline high-level direction and the objectives describe AMB priorities in support of each goal. Targets allow the AMB to measure and report on progress towards each objective. Annual workplans, including fisheries management plans, will be developed based on the guidance provided in this plan to ensure alignment with AMB objectives.

GOAL 1. Implement effective collaboration for planning and management.

A strong and open relationship between the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada is fundamental to the success of Gwaii Haanas. The AMB strives to reach consensus on all issues. In the event of an AMB disagreement, the matter may be referred to senior representatives who must attempt to reach agreement in good faith. The AMB’s experience of cooperative management, spanning more than two decades, provides an example of reconciliation in action that links to broader governance and reconciliation efforts on Haida Gwaii.

The Legacy Pole

In my capacity as President of the Haida Nation, I frequently ask myself the question, “What would our ancestors think?” I was asking myself this question while at Windy Bay celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement and participating in the raising of the first pole in Gwaii Haanas in over 130 years. There was so much emotion in the air and I recall the feeling of pride from everyone who was witnessing this historic event. It was impossible not to feel proud. This feeling was magnified when you think about the past—the challenges our ancestors faced that allowed this celebration to happen. It is humbling and emotional when you ponder the sacrifices made to protect these lands and waters. Although rooted in conflict, they paved the way to an era of cooperation between the Haida Nation and Canada.

kil tlaats 'gaa (Peter Lantin)

With the Canada-Haida relationship at its core, the AMB also works with other governments and organizations, including the Province of B.C., on broader management initiatives on Haida Gwaii. At the regional level, the AMB engages in processes such as Marine Protected Area Network planning and implementation of the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area Plan. Canada, the Haida Nation and B.C. are also working together on marine emergency preparedness and response planning as well as coordinated enforcement. Improved compliance may be achieved through education and outreach in collaboration with partners such as the Haida Gwaii Watchmen Program.

AMB decisions are informed by the best available information including Haida traditional knowledge and laws, local knowledge, and science. During implementation of this plan, the AMB will solicit advice from an advisory committee, local communities, and others affected by AMB decisions.


Objective 1.1.

Strengthen the relationship between the Haida Nation and Canada.


  1. Collaborative work by employees of partner organizations on Gwaii Haanas management and initiatives increases.
  2. A collaborative process for AMB fisheries management decision-making is implemented.
  3. The AMB leads two major projects (e.g., pole raising) that highlight the cooperative relationship between the Haida Nation and Canada.

Objective 1.2.

Improve coordination between the AMB and relevant initiatives and associated organizations.


  1. The AMB engages stakeholders in the implementation of this plan.
  2. The AMB participates in and coordinates with local and regional management and planning initiatives relevant to Gwaii Haanas.
  3. Prevention, compliance and enforcement programs are coordinated among AMB partners and the Province of B.C. as appropriate.
  4. Emergency preparedness and response are coordinated among AMB partners and other relevant agencies and organizations.

GOAL 2. Protect, conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystems.

Spring in K’iid (Burnaby Narrows)

It was common to us, just to see … thousands and thousands of tonnes of herring – big spawns, as far as you can see … I know there was millions of tons of fish because when they start moving to Burnaby Narrows it just sounded like a big rainfall or something, at night time, going through the narrows. And then the sea lions and the killer whales … right with them too. You hear those … sea lions roaring all night … going through the narrows after the herring. When we go [now] … looking for k’aaw in the spring it’s not nearly as much spawn, and a few sea lions…

Gidaansda (Percy Williams)

From rainforest to kelp forest, Gwaii Haanas is home to some of the most productive biological communities in the world. A key priority is conserving the diversity of species, populations and communities, including their ability to adapt to climate change. This is achieved through responsible stewardship of the land and sea.

The ecological health of Gwaii Haanas is important both to resident and migratory species. The AMB has recently developed an action plan for species at risk in Gwaii Haanas. This plan prioritizes actions that are most likely to improve species population status. The AMB also supports rebuilding populations of ecologically and culturally significant species to support Haida culture and an abundant food web. Zoning of human activities is a tool that can be used to achieve relevant objectives.

The main threat to terrestrial ecological integrity in Gwaii Haanas is introduced species, primarily k’aad (deer), kagan (rats) and gwiiguu (raccoons). Over the past decade, major restoration projects have been undertaken. SGin Xaana Sdiihltl’lxa: Nightbirds Returning aimed to protect and restore seabird colonies through eradication of invasive rats. Llgaay gwii sdiihlda: Restoring Balance focuses on increasing ts’uu (red cedar) and understorey plant abundance on several islands in the Juan Perez Sound area through deer management. An active biosecurity program that works hand in hand with restoration efforts will be key to minimizing the spread of introduced species in Gwaii Haanas.

Success of efforts to improve ecosystem structure and function depends on collaboration with partners. GaalGuuhlkyan (abalone) restoration efforts in Gwaii Haanas, for example, involve an ongoing partnership with the Haida Gwaii Marine Stewardship Group. Work to protect, conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystems in Gwaii Haanas also links to broader protected areas management efforts led by the Haida Nation, B.C. and Canada on Haida Gwaii and in the north Pacific.


Objective 2.1.

Protect and conserve habitats, species and food webs in Gwaii Haanas.


  1. Key ecological features and species and their habitats are documented and conserved.
  2. Key marine areas of high biophysical diversity, special, and rare and sensitive ecosystem elements are documented, and areas of full protection increase from the 2010 baseline of 3%.
  3. The Gwaii Haanas Species-At-Risk Integrated Action Plan is implemented.
  4. Action plan(s) for other AMB-identified species (e.g., Pacific herring, red cedar) are developed and implemented.
  5. Offshore islands, eradication sites, and other AMB-identified areas have no new invasive species.

Objective 2.2.

Restore habitats, species and food webs in Gwaii Haanas.


  1. An invasive species biosecurity plan that includes prevention, detection and adaptive response measures is developed and implemented by 2019.
  2. Seabird abundance increases through successful eradication of invasive rats and continued biosecurity.
  3. Understorey plant abundance increases through active deer management and biosecurity.
  4. A herring rebuilding strategy and implementation plan are collaboratively developed by 2020.
  5. AMB-identified priority restoration projects (e.g., salmon streams, kelp forests, contaminated sites) are developed and implemented where appropriate.

GOAL 3. Support the continuity of Haida culture.

O Cedar

When steamed
it will bend without breaking
it will make houses and boats
and boxes and cooking pots.
Its bark will make mats,
even clothing.

Bill Reid, Out of the Silence

Haida culture is based on the Haida relationship with Haida Gwaii. In Gwaii Haanas, this means sustaining a strong and enduring relationship to the entire area. Gwaii Haanas continues to have great cultural, spiritual and economic importance, and the sharing of traditional knowledge, laws and language is central to connecting people and place.

Traditionally based land, sea and air activities continue and are important for Haida food security and spiritual and cultural well-being. Accessing Gwaii Haanas can be difficult and costly, and the AMB is working to ensure both present and future generations of Haida have opportunities to experience Gwaii Haanas.

Haida culture is tied to viable livelihoods and community well-being. Career and other economic opportunities in Gwaii Haanas are available to Haida citizens. They include a broad scope of potential activities such as fishing, art, tour operations and employment in government and non-profit organizations.

The Haida Gwaii Watchmen program is a touchstone to our past and future. There are few places left on the planet where one can go to feel that sense of being a part of all things. Gwaii Haanas is one of those places.

Cindy Boyko, AMB co-chair

The Haida Gwaii Watchmen Program protects key cultural sites and provides employment opportunities for Haida. In operation for years prior to the designation of Gwaii Haanas, the program reconnects people to the land and sea and facilitates traditionally based use and stewardship. ‘Laana DaaGang.nga GawGa (Swan Bay Rediscovery Camp) offers opportunities for island youth to connect to Gwaii Haanas while learning about cultural stewardship and leadership.

Gwaii Haanas is home to a rich archaeological record that documents widespread Haida use of the area. Over 700 coastal archaeological sites have been identified, some of which date back at least 12,000 years. Current archaeological research in Gwaii Haanas focuses on tidal and subtidal areas, where people may have lived when sea levels were lower.


Objective 3.1.

Continue to support a living Haida culture and economy.


  1. The Haida Nation identifies and implements protocols to guide Haida use and stewardship in Gwaii Haanas by 2023.
  2. Development and growth of new and existing Haida cultural programs (e.g., Haida Gwaii Watchmen, Swan Bay Rediscovery) are encouraged.
  3. Economic opportunities for Haida in Gwaii Haanas are maintained or increased based on a 2018 baseline.
  4. Opportunities for Haida cultural activities (e.g., carving projects, sharing language, traditionally based use) in Gwaii Haanas increase through partnerships and application of traditional knowledge and laws.

Objective 3.2.

Protect features of spiritual and cultural importance.


  1. Sites and areas with significant spiritual, cultural and/or archaeological values are documented and protected, consistent with Haida law.
  2. Haida traditional knowledge and laws about Gwaii Haanas (e.g., Haida place names, oral traditions) are shared as appropriate.

GOAL 4. Foster ecologically sustainable resource use that benefits Haida Gwaii communities.

The Gwaii Haanas ecosystem continues to support Haida communities as it has done for millennia. The area also supports tourism and fisheries that, in turn, sustain local and regional businesses. In addition, vessels regularly travel through Gwaii Haanas. This range of activities provides important cultural, social and economic benefits to communities.

The primary terrestrial management goal in Gwaii Haanas is to maintain or improve ecological integrity. Commercial and recreational extraction does not occur in the terrestrial area. The marine area is managed for the purpose of protecting and conserving ecological and cultural values. Commercial and recreational marine activities such as fisheries may occur if they are conducted in a manner that is consistent with this management plan and do not compromise ecosystem structure or function.

The Making Tide

I’m a real believer in looking up at the moon when you’re catching fish. You look up and say ‘hey, it’s a “making tide”’ – the moon is getting a little bigger each day. The fish bite on the making tides in this area. So you don’t just go out and catch fish. You’ve got to know where to go. You have to think like a fish. If you don’t think like a fish you won’t make a successful fisherman. I got tangled up in the tide rips out by Flamingo [Inlet] once - it was a beautiful day and it came up just like you were in a washing machine. When you’re out fishing for 54 years, you’re going to end up with three or four times when you’re going to get caught in the weather. But the rest of the time it’s beautiful. That’s why we fish.

Norm Ostrom, Commercial fisher

An ecosystem-based management (EBM) framework to evaluate human activities in Gwaii Haanas will be developed to ensure that activities are ecologically sustainable and provide social, cultural and/or economic benefits. This work will begin with fisheries and later be expanded to evaluate other activities. Reducing the ecological footprint of Gwaii Haanas operational activities is also a priority.

Visitation to Gwaii Haanas has increased in recent years. Ferry and flight services continue to be critical for accessing Haida Gwaii and also limit visitors to Gwaii Haanas. Over the next decade, the AMB will work in partnership with others to facilitate access to Gwaii Haanas.


Objective 4.1.

Ensure tourism in Gwaii Haanas is ecologically sustainable.


  1. Visitor policies (e.g., Backcountry Management Plan) are reviewed every five years to facilitate visitation and encourage business growth while protecting natural and cultural heritage.
  2. Tourism activities in Gwaii Haanas are managed to minimize impacts in sensitive locations (e.g., seabird colonies).

Objective 4.2.

Ensure fisheries in Gwaii Haanas are ecologically sustainable.


  1. Haida traditional knowledge is incorporated into decision-making processes for AMB-identified fisheries (e.g., Pacific herring) by 2020 and for all fisheries in Gwaii Haanas by 2023.
  2. An EBM framework that includes the identification of specific, measurable objectives and a process to evaluate Gwaii Haanas fisheries against these objectives is developed by 2020.
  3. Three AMB-identified fisheries (e.g., geoduck, red sea urchin, sea cucumber) are evaluated using the EBM framework by 2020. All fisheries in Gwaii Haanas are evaluated by 2021, and new and/or reopening fisheries are evaluated as needed.

Objective 4.3.

Work with relevant agencies to manage and monitor vessel traffic to minimize impacts to Gwaii Haanas.


  1. The AMB works with relevant agencies to strengthen communication about vessel movements in or near Gwaii Haanas.
  2. The AMB works with relevant agencies to encourage large vessels to transit sufficiently far offshore of Gwaii Haanas to ensure adequate response time and prevent accidents.
  3. Marine infrastructure to enable safe navigation in Gwaii Haanas is improved (e.g., buoys, markers).

Objective 4.4.

Improve local benefits from activities in Gwaii Haanas.


  1. The AMB works with appropriate local, regional and national organizations to facilitate visitation to Haida Gwaii (e.g., access, collaborative marketing).
  2. Visitation to Gwaii Haanas increases by a minimum of 2% per year based on a 2015 baseline.
  3. Opportunities for local visitation to Gwaii Haanas increase.
  4. The AMB collaborates with businesses, government agencies, and other organizations to build local capacity and provide economic opportunities on Haida Gwaii.

Objective 4.5.

Reduce the environmental impacts of operations in Gwaii Haanas.


  1. Greenhouse gas emissions from Gwaii Haanas operations are reduced by 10% by 2023 and 20% by 2028.
  2. Alternative energy sources power all field operations stations by 2020.

GOAL 5. Advance knowledge and understanding of Gwaii Haanas.

Kilgii Gwaay

There’s a small beach in southernmost Haida Gwaii which harbours one of the greatest secrets of the Northwest coast. To the casual eye it’s nothing special. It’s a gravelly little cove in Gwaii Haanas, strewn with boulders, rimmed by sharp bedrock and low-hanging boughs. You’d kayak past without even taking a picture. But what archaeologists have found there is a stunning suite of artefacts telling of the Haida way of life over 10,000 years ago. All from a time when the world was still sloughing off the last ice age and transformation was everywhere.

Quentin Mackie, University of Victoria

Gwaii Haanas provides a benchmark for science and human understanding of the land and sea. Decades of research, in collaboration with partners, has led to documentation of almost 6,800 species in the area, an archaeological inventory of terrestrial and coastal sites, mapping of the seabed, and many other significant research achievements.

Monitoring priorities include maintaining long-term ecological datasets and developing a comprehensive marine monitoring program, which will include indicators related to marine ecology, use, governance and benefits to coastal communities. This program will be developed in coordination with broader monitoring efforts on Haida Gwaii. New Gwaii Haanas research will involve documenting traditional knowledge and laws, inventorying underwater archaeological sites and advancing understanding of Gwaii Haanas as a linked land-sea-people ecosystem.

Research and monitoring objectives will be achieved by collaborating with government research programs, universities, and local organizations. Results of this work will inform AMB decisions and may also benefit management of other areas on Haida Gwaii and in the broader north Pacific region.

Objective 5.1.

Support and further develop the Gwaii Haanas monitoring program.


  1. A comprehensive marine monitoring program is fully developed and operational by 2023.
  2. Long-term monitoring programs (e.g., Ecological Integrity program) and datasets (e.g., eelgrass, salmon, herring) are maintained or improved.
  3. New and existing partnerships (e.g., Haida Gwaii Watchmen, Haida Fisheries Program, tour operators, fishing industry) support monitoring activities.
  4. Gwaii Haanas monitoring activities are integrated with broader local and regional monitoring initiatives (e.g., design, data sharing).

Objective 5.2.

Promote and advance research that supports decision making in Gwaii Haanas.


  1. Haida traditional knowledge and laws and other local knowledge about Gwaii Haanas is documented and inventoried.
  2. Archaeological inventories of five subtidal sites with high probability of previous Haida occupation are completed.
  3. Research areas are identified and protected for collection of baseline information.
  4. Research that advances knowledge of social-ecological systems and land-sea connections, as well as tools for implementing ecosystem-based management, are supported.
  5. Partnerships result in five research achievements (e.g., sea bottom mapping, socio-economic analysis, peer-reviewed publications).

GOAL 6. Enhance public awareness of and appreciation for Gwaii Haanas.

Haida Sayings

Haay.yad tl’aaw gam taajuuwaay sihlgyang dii giijiigid Gang.
Today there is no wind to hold me back.

Chiixwas gen gaguu gataa daanaay guu ga taa iijii.
When the tide is out, the table is set.

DaaGahl sin ‘laa gii dii sdaahll ga.
I hope the weather is good tomorrow.

Chiixwaay ad k’aadsgiidaay gam nang k’yaawGa Gid Gang.
Time and tide wait for no one.

Public awareness and outreach activities are critical to achieving the vision for Gwaii Haanas. Regular communication of Gwaii Haanas stories nurtures a sense of pride, understanding and support for Gwaii Haanas among Haida, local and broader Canadian audiences.

Current programming includes community events, youth engagement and media relations. These and other initiatives help to raise Gwaii Haanas’ profile nationally and internationally.

Priorities for the next decade include expanding local outreach programs and reaching new audiences in urban centres such as Vancouver. Increasing use of social media and establishing partnerships with other organizations with expertise in communications and outreach will contribute to the success of these efforts.


Objective 6.1.

Increase awareness of, and connection to, Gwaii Haanas at local, national and international levels.


  1. Participation in Gwaii Haanas outreach and engagement programs (e.g., local and regional speaker series) increases by 20%.
  2. Engagement with Haida Gwaii youth increases (e.g., participation in school programs, Haida Gwaii Youth Assembly).
  3. All Haida Gwaii students have the opportunity to visit Gwaii Haanas during their high school years.
  4. Gwaii Haanas is featured in 50 media and/or academic publications.
  5. The virtual reach of Gwaii Haanas increases by 50% (e.g., through websites, social media, virtual tours).

Objective 6.2.

Build awareness of the Gwaii Haanas cooperative management relationship.


  1. Haida Gwaii residents and the broader public have multiple opportunities to learn about Gwaii Haanas every year (e.g., past and present human uses, cooperative management, Haida law).
  2. Haida language and oral traditions are included in Gwaii Haanas communications.
  3. The AMB shares their knowledge and experience of cooperative management with at least two external groups per year (e.g., through meetings, conferences, field excursions).

GOAL 7. Facilitate opportunities for meaningful visitor experiences.

Gwaii Haanas is a magical place. I’m a redneck and it takes a lot for me to say that. You can be out on the west coast and go from 1000 fathoms up to the edge of the beach in half a mile or a mile in some of those spots. There aren’t too many places on the planet where you can do that.

Lindsey Doerksen, Commercial Fisher

This area has an effect on people, one that I have witnessed time and time again.

Al Whitney, early tour operator

For many, a visit to Gwaii Haanas is the trip of a lifetime. Visitor satisfaction remains high and many visitors describe their trip to Gwaii Haanas as life-changing. Interactions with Haida Gwaii Watchmen are often cited as the highlight of visitors’ experience.

The AMB is working to target new visitor markets and may expand services and facilities. Opportunities to improve and increase infrastructure may include backcountry campsites and trails and improved access to freshwater. Any new services and facilities will be culturally and ecologically appropriate, respecting the Gwaii Haanas sense of place.

To support Gwaii Haanas visitation, the AMB will partner with local and regional tourism organizations to improve destination marketing to Haida Gwaii, including Gwaii Haanas and other protected areas on the islands. Partnerships with schools and universities can increase visitation by youth. Working with tour operators is also important to ensure outstanding and memorable visitor experiences.


Objective 7.1.

Maintain or increase visitor satisfaction.


  1. Visitor opportunities diversify and increase through partnerships with tour operators, local businesses and other organizations (e.g., cultural workshops, guided activities, citizen science).
  2. Infrastructure appropriate to the Gwaii Haanas experience improves and increases.
  3. Vessel and air traffic (e.g., helicopters, float planes, drones) is managed to minimize noise and maintain a remote experience in Gwaii Haanas.
  4. Beach garbage is removed from high-priority sites on an ongoing basis.
  5. 95% of visitors enjoy their experience in Gwaii Haanas.

Objective 7.2.

Increase opportunities for learning in Gwaii Haanas.


  1. Everyone travelling in Gwaii Haanas has the information needed for a safe and meaningful visit (e.g., orientations, interpretation).
  2. Best practices for Gwaii Haanas cultural tourism are documented and available for use by protected area managers and others.
  3. Through partnerships, post-secondary students have opportunities to participate in field courses in Gwaii Haanas on an ongoing basis by 2023.
  4. Interpretation by Haida Gwaii Watchmen and tour operators is supported through education and training opportunities.

7.0 Zoning

This plan includes marine and terrestrial zoning to support implementation of the goals, objectives and targets. Zoning does not infringe on inherent Haida rights.

The marine area of Gwaii Haanas was first zoned in 2010 through the Interim Management Plan. Zoning at that time was modest in scope and the AMB committed to advance comprehensive marine zoning following establishment. The terrestrial area of Gwaii Haanas has been managed cooperatively by the Haida Nation and Canada since 1993 but has not previously been zoned. Zoning of the land and sea together, described below, reflects gina ‘waadluxan gud ad kwaagid – an understanding that everything is connected to everything else. This also allows for greater integration of marine and terrestrial management.

The intent of the zoning plan is to achieve key ecological and cultural objectives while minimizing socio-economic impacts. The zoning plan is also designed to maximize ecological connectivity, enable easy navigation and understanding, and provide opportunities for scientific research.

On the land, where no commercial or recreational extraction occurs, zoning aims to protect sensitive features such as archaeological sites and seabird nesting areas, and also to limit infrastructure development by confining it to defined areas. In the marine area, sustainable fishing activities continue to provide livelihoods and connect people and families to Gwaii Haanas. Marine zoning aims to expand protection of ecological and cultural features while maintaining viable commercial and recreational fishing opportunities.

The full zoning plan is presented in Appendix A and the marine and terrestrial zoning frameworks are outlined in Appendix B. Each marine strict protection zone or Daanaay Kuuyada (precious area) is described below. Numbers correspond with the zoning map in Appendix A.

  1. At over 500 square kilometres, the Kun Skuujii sda GawGaay.ya (Kwoon Cove to Gowgaia Bay) zone on the west coast is the largest area of strict protection in Gwaii Haanas. From sheltered waters out to the continental shelf, this area has several estuaries, sensitive corals and sponges, and is important habitat for rockfishes, seabirds and whales.
  2. SGang Gwaay (Wailing Island) is a Haida village that is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It commemorates the living Haida culture and relationship to the land and the sea.
  3. The waters surrounding Gangxid Tllgaay (South Kunghit Island) are characterized by strong tidal mixing, which creates an area of very high productivity. Kay Tay Daanaay (Kerouard Islands), at the southernmost tip of Gwaii Haanas, is home to thousands of nesting seabirds and a Steller sea lion rookery.
  4. The Gangxid Xyuu Kun sda Kan ‘Láas Kun (Lyman Point to Receiver Point) zone includes nesting tufted puffins, a designated Important Bird Area, corals and sponges and whale and rockfish habitat.
  5. Kayjuu Kun (Benjamin Point) is an area of high tidal current that includes Garcin Rocks, the site of a second Steller sea lion rookery in Gwaii Haanas.
  6. The estuaries of St’aa K’ii GawGa (6a. Flamingo Inlet), GawGajaang (6b. Louscoone Inlet), K’insiGid (6c. Rose Inlet) and GawGan (6d. Huston Inlet) act as nutrient and energy interfaces between the land and the sea.
  7. The Tang.Gwan Giisda Kaadlljuu (Coming Out of the Ocean First) zone includes Xaagyah Gwaay.yaay (Bolkus Island), a Haida origin site where SGuuluu Jaad (Foam Woman) first came out of the water. Suu Kaahlii (Skincuttle Inlet) is also an ecological hotspot, home to thousands of nesting seabirds. The strict protection zone here extends north into K’iid (Burnaby Narrows), the site of one of the most abundant and diverse temperate intertidal communities in the world.
  8. Kuuniisii Xaw GawGa sda Gaaduu Gwaay (Matheson Inlet to Huxley Island) is an area of archaeological significance, both on the land and under the sea, where underwater exploratory research has identified a potential human habitation site from when sea levels were lower.
  9. Gandaawuu.ngaay Xyangs sda Tllga Kun Gwaay.yaay (Juan Perez Sound to Lyell Island) is an area of very high cultural value that includes two Haida Gwaii Watchmen sites. Several marine and terrestrial ecological restoration projects have also been located in this highly productive area.
  10. The small strict protection zone in southern Didxwahxyangs (Darwin Sound) includes a unique sheltered area of high productivity.
  11. The T’aanuu K’aadxwah Xyangs sda Gwaay Xaa’ans (Klue Passage to Lost Islands) zone includes T’aanuu Llnagaay (Tanu) and nearby K’ang.Guu Gwaay.yaay (Kunga Island), which have very high cultural value are key areas for Haida use.

A monitoring plan will be developed to assess the effectiveness of zoning in achieving ecological and cultural objectives. Regular monitoring within and outside of strict protection zones will illustrate ecosystem responses to the zoning plan and will allow the AMB to adapt and respond to new issues and priorities as they arise.

Promoting awareness will help improve zoning compliance and ensure that people who spend time in Gwaii Haanas understand AMB management direction. Enforcement activities will be carried out cooperatively under Haida and federal authorities and laws.


This plan describes how the Haida Nation and Canada will work cooperatively to advance their collective vision for Gwaii Haanas. Implementation will require ongoing participation of Haida and local communities, stakeholder groups and others. Engagement with other government departments, non-government organizations and researchers will also contribute to the plan’s success.

The AMB is entrusted to safeguard and manage Gwaii Haanas to the highest standards of conservation and protection. Through responsible stewardship, the abundant diversity of life in Gwaii Haanas will continue to sustain the connection between land, sea and people for generations to come.

Appendix A. Zoning Plan

Marine and detailed terrestrial zoning plan for Gwaii Haanas.

Gwaii Haanas National Park Zoning

Appendix B. Zoning Framework

Terrestrial zoning framework TERRESTRIAL ZONE
Restricted access Conditional access Backcountry Infrastructure
Activities Traditional use* Yes Yes Yes Yes
Research, monitoring and restoration C C Yes C
Education, tourism and recreation No C Yes C
Camping No No Yes C
Infrastructure Safety infrastructure Yes Yes Yes Yes
Trails No C C Yes
Basic shelters No C C Yes
Freshwater intakes No C C Yes
Accommodations facilities for operational use No No No Yes
Accommodations facilities for commercial use No No No C
Marine zoning framework MARINE ZONE
Restricted access Strict protection (IUCN II) Multiple use (IUCN VI)
Activities Traditional use* Yes Yes Yes
Research, monitoring and restoration C C Yes
Tourism and education No Yes Yes
Commercial fisheries/harvest No No Yes
Recreational fisheries/harvest No No Yes
Shellfish aquaculture No No No
Finfish aquaculture No No No
Infrastructure Safety infrastructure No Yes Yes
Anchorages No Yes Yes
Mooring buoys No Yes Yes
Docks No C Yes
Gwaii Haanas operational floating accommodations No No Yes
Commercial floating accommodations No No No

C: Conditionally allowed if activity aligns with site-specific objectives
*Traditional use is allowed in all zones, consistent with the Haida Constitution and section 35 of the Constitution Act

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