[ Qualicum Beach, BC - April 3rd, 2017 ] - People from all over the world are supporting a nomination to designate the Salish Sea as a World Heritage Site. SeaLegacy, (Qualicum Beach, BC) in partnership with the Salish Sea Trust (Cedar, BC), has collected as many as 6,000 signatures representing people from not only British Columbia and the rest of Canada, but also regions in Mexico, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, the United States, Iceland and many others.
“Every day we are get emails from new supporters who have signed the petition and I really enjoy seeing where they come from,” says SeaLegacy’s Kait Burgan. “The geographical differences and range is certainly impressive but what’s even more impressive is how every one of the people we hear from, knows how magical this place is.”
The Salish Sea, named in 2010 for the Coast Salish peoples, extends from the north end of the Strait of Georgia and Desolation Sound to the south end of the Puget Sound and west to the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, including the inland marine waters of southern B.C. and northern Washington. If successful, the Canadian portion of the area will carry a similar designation to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, the Great Wall of China and Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump here in Canada. Parks Canada will compile a short-list of ten potential sites later this year, and present it to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations). This campaign is geared towards getting on that list.
“I work in ecotourism, sharing this region with visitors from around the world. I also hike on the islands of the Salish Sea, walk the coastlines and sea kayak the ocean waters,” says one supporter from Comox, on Vancouver Island. “There are outstanding universal values of the Salish Sea from its significance to our local culture and nature, and our contribution to the world's heritage.
“I am a member of Swinomish Tribe and I grew up on the Salish Sea,” writes another supporter from Washington State. “ When I was small, I spent months on the water with my father, a commercial fisherman. Now my sons are fishermen. We harvest fish, shrimp, crab, urchin, and geoduck. We rely on the health of the Salish Sea to provide for us a pathway to financial security ... the health of our Salish Sea is sacred.”
Another letter, from a supporter in Calgary reads, “The Salish Sea is just one of many crucial ecosystems, however that does not make it less essential than Banff National Park, Wapusk National Park, or any of the many other protected areas in Canada. In fact it makes it more important than these already stable environments, as there is still the possibility that without protection, the Salish Sea will lose its thriving sea life.”
In addition to individual expressions of support, the campaign is garnering interest and encouragement from hockey legend Willie Mitchell who is well-known for his love of fishing and passion for the waters of British Columbia. SeaLegacy will be a releasing a mini-documentary on April 7th, featuring Mitchell, as well as National Geographic Photographers and SeaLegacy Founders Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mittermeier. Geraldine Manson, a Snuneymuxw Elder is also featured in the video, along with Tom Stenner, of Dolphin Marine Services in Gibsons. In addition, The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea has pledged their support and has been collecting signatures for the petition. The Gulf Island Alliance, the Federation of BC Naturalists, Oceans Initiative, and Island’s Trust, with the caveat that First Nations are on side with the campaign, which is ongoing and very encouraging at this stage. Other supporters include Andrew Weaver, Leader of the Green Party; Leonard Krog; MP for Nanaimo; Rachel Blaney MP for North Island Powell River; with more support being expressed from all sectors on an almost daily basis.
The public and other interested stakeholders have in until the end of April to voice their support by signing a petition or writing a letter, www.WeAreTheSalishSea.eco . Beginning in May, Parks Canada will be start their evaluation process to begin shortlisting.