History of the Establishment of Gwaii Haanas

In 1974, disputes began over the future of southern Moresby Island. Unsustainable logging plans precipitated a public proposal to protect the South Moresby Wilderness Area.

Chief Reynold Russ signing the Gwaii Haanas Agreement © Rolf Bettner

In 1985, the Haida Nation designated the area a “Haida Heritage Site” and a blockade was held on Lyell Island.

Logging continued in the face of legal and political controversy until July of 1987, when Canada and British Columbia signed the South Moresby Memorandum of Understanding.

One year later, the South Moresby Agreement was signed, paving the way to Canada's designation of the area as a National Park Reserve.

The Government of Canada and the Council of the Haida Nation signed the Gwaii Haanas Agreement in 1993. The Agreement expresses respect for Canadian and Haida interests and designations, and includes a mutual commitment to protect Gwaii Haanas.

Based on the Agreement, Gwaii Haanas is cooperatively managed by the Archipelago Management Board (AMB), which is made up of an equal number of representatives from the Council of the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada.

On January 16, 2010 the Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement was signed, expanding the cooperative management partnership to include representation from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The AMB is responsible for all aspects of planning, operation, and management of Gwaii Haanas.

Timeline of Establishment

1985 The designation of the terrestrial and marine areas as a Haida Heritage Site by the Council of the Haida Nation.

1988 The commitment from the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada to protect the terrestrial and marine environment (The South Moresby Agreement).

1993 The Gwaii Haanas Agreement in which the Haida Nation and the Government of Canada agreed to the co operative planning, management and operation of the terrestrial and marine areas.

1997 Four major oil companies gave up their petroleum leases within the boundaries of the proposed Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve.

2001 The transfer of seabed interests from the Province of British Columbia to the Government of Canada.

2002 The enactment of the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act. The act provides the authority for the establishment of national marine conservation areas and outlines the steps required to do so.

2008 Formation of an Interim Marine Advisory Committee.

2010 (January) Signing of the Gwaii Haanas Marine Agreement to complement the existing Haida designation for the ocean area as a Heritage Site.

2010 (June) Establishment of the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve.

2012 Integrated Management Planning for terrestrial and marine areas underway. Deadline 2015.