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How First Nations Are Asserting Sovereignty Over Their Lands and Waters – The Tyee

Indigenous Marine Protected and Conserved Areas hold a key to food security and balancing ecological and economic priorities. Part one of two.

The spring herring spawn is unfolding in Kitasu Bay, known by the traditional name Gitdisdzu Lugyeks, and everyone has come out to feast.

Today the water is glassy, making it easy to spot humpback whales and their exhalations of breath, which send plumes of mist high into the air. Whiskery sea lions call out their chortling barks as they float on their backs, a look of gluttonous contentedness on their faces. The sleek black bodies of surf scoters form a massive raft known as a scooter of scoters, tens of thousands strong.

Kitasu Bay sits within the traditional territory of the Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nation and is located on the Central Coast of British Columbia. Last summer the nation declared it a protected area under their own laws, closing it to commercial harvest by non-Indigenous fishers. Their declaration invited the provincial and federal governments to work with them to develop a co-governance model, but added, “we seek no permission.”

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