October 19, 2016
The Haida Nation stands with the Heiltsuk Nation and supports their assertions regarding the speed of the federal government’s response, the environmental impacts to the community and subsequent economic hardship from the sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart and grounding of the barge DBL55.
“From our perspective it is hard to find anything positive about this situation,” said kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation. “The spill at Qvuqvai near Waglisla Bella Bella, illustrates what coastal nations have been saying for years: There is no technology or response available today that can begin to deal with the impact of oil, diesel or other petroleum products spilling into the waters and onto shorelines.”
Coastal waters pose many unique challenges to those who operate in them and it has been shown many times that small communities are always the first responders to marine accidents. In this case, people from Waglisla and the surrounding area were on the scene 20+ hours before the federal government was able to place anyone in the area.
The problems with shipping petroleum products has been thoroughly detailed and itemized and most people are aware of the issues. With todays heightened awareness around shipping on the coast, the pending moratorium, and the forecasted increase in vessel traffic, the Haida Nation is calling on the federal government to take action in the interest of minimizing accidents in the immediate future. At this time prevention is the best course.
“The nations that have been involved in shipping issues on the coast have met with the federal government over the last few months and it has been indicated that policy is changing to address our concerns. Unfortunately, the policy isn’t changing fast enough to deal with today’s problem,” said kil tlaats ‘gaa. “There is action the federal government can take today to address the issues surrounding
- Revoke the ticket which allows the Nathan E. Stewart and other vessels of this type and weight to travel the Inside Passage. This would not include vessels servicing coastal community infrastructure.
- Ensure that vessels transporting large volumes of oil respect the Voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone.
- Place substantial monetary and technical resources in first responding communities along the coast.
In the long term, the tanker moratorium should address the issues associated with this type of vessel and contract, and in addition be supported and signed off by coastal nations. Having all nations along the coast sign off on the moratorium will ensure co-stewardship of the coast and an investment in the well-being of the land, waters, animals and communities that depend on it.
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ENQUIRIES Haida Nation Communications – Simon Davies
250 637 1130