RRAB meeting December 6, 2001

Rocks Advisory Board MeetingDecember 6, 2001, 11:00 am – 2:30 pm
Canadian Coast Guard Base, 25 Huron Street, Victoria, BC

Kelly Francis – Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Keith Symington – Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society

Observers: Sean Leroy – UBC Graduate Student
Louise Murgatroyd – Minutes


Update on First Nations Activities

  • Kelly Francis discussed two meetings held with First Nations which were productive and demonstrated an appetite on part of chiefs to support and participate in MPA. Kelly updated the RRAB on developments occurring subsequent to publication of the designation regulation in Part I of the Canada Gazette – the Chiefs of T’souke, Songhees and Beecher Bay wrote to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in November, 2000 expressing opposition to the proposed MPA at Race Rocks citing Delgamuk, infringement of rights and lack of consultation. At that point the regulatory process was put on hold pending resolution of these concerns. Kelly and Dick Carson met with each individual Chief in December – while there was general support for the MPA, the Chiefs expressed concern over inadequate consultation; DFO has acknowledged that it has not engaged in this effectively; Chiefs have since written letter of support on the condition that there i true co-operation and acknowledgement of Douglas treaty rights. The most ect meeting with FN’s in June, 2001 was very positive with agreement to share info on RR, including all documentation, recommendations, copies of all info for their review and a desire to meet again to review all of this: this meeting has not occurred yet.
  • Angus Matthews pointed out that the intervention was triggered by not dealing with wider scope of First Nation interests appropriately; he inicated that there were very serious flaws in wording of gazette piece, not reflecting recommendations of RRAB, serious disconnect between Ottawa and RRAB; understood need for wider consultations and wording needs to be much more sensitive.
  • Kelly Francis discussed the need for another version of the regulation that better captures First Nations rights to access resources for Food, Social and Ceremonial purposes and indicates that that these rights are not being infringed upon
  • Angus Matthews expressed his hope that that the new wording would be reviewed by the Board so that it can go through second time without difficulties and that failure at this juncture would be disastrous.
  • Marc Pakenham pointed out that Ottawa’s unfamiliarity with MPA regulation is a factor and it that it is necessary to keep them in tune with wording and regulation and that problems had been experienced with this previously.
  • Garry Fletcher stressed the importance of dealing with and documenting the mechanisms of what has gone wrong with the process, given that this committee was set up as unique experience and it is a first-time scenario and will be held up as a model for future processes of consultation; he expressed concern over the legacy of the process and strongly expressed the need for governmental transparency with respect to this and future advisory board processes; he elaborated by stating that the establishment of the RRAB was mandated under the Oceans Act, that the Board was under the impression that Tom Sampson had been present as overall representative of First Nations, but that a mistake had been made in that not all tribes were represented; he further expressed discomfort that there are parallel meetings between government and First Nations, rather these should involve the RRAB, and not be held separately.
  • Kelly Francis responded that the vision was that First Nations would come to the RRAB table as equals but that at the moment they are not comfortable with working with third parties
  • Garry Fletcher stated that this must be addressed in the future.
  • Marty Roberts indicated that First Nations want government to government meetings first; and that they have added conditions, for example, as in the initiative with CW a similar process to Race Rocks; he pointed out that the process was challenging and frustrating for those who wish to see it happen but that First Nations have a protocol which they expect to be adhered to.
  • Garry Fletcher questioned whether future boards will have representatives from the Coast Salish Council pointing out that a great deal has been learned from Tom Sampson and his input.
  • Kelly Francis stated that First Nations must be allowed to decide how they wish to be represented, i.e. individual chiefs or one person to represent all.
  • Keith Symington pointed out that a lesson to learned from this is to talk of co-operative management and steering committee participation; that First Nations must be invited as co-chairs for meetings, rather than participants.
  • Angus Matthews suggested a further lesson is tripartite arrangements are necessary and that much has been learned of this model after the fact.
  • Marc Pakenham pointed out that thoughout the process efforts to establish communications with chiefs were unsuccessful, many lessons have been learned and he felt that the Board is now on the right course.
  • Kelly Francis emphasized that Tom Sampson’s role has been critical to the process and that in retrospect, there should have been more active communication with chiefs who had a specific interest in the area.
  • Keith Symington pointed out the difficulties inherent with territorial overlap between tribes and that First Nations must determine representation.
  • General discussion over Tom Sampson’s status on the RRAB; invitation to this meeting was sent.

Status of other Pilot MPAs

  • Angus Matthews inquired into the status of other pilot MPAs
  • Kelly Francis provided the following update: Endeavour has been gazetted and undergone (Regulatory Impact Assessment Statement) RIAS; there is a hold-up due to DND concerns of access for reasons of national security and has therefore gone back to the deputy minister level for consideration; Bowie is further behind, still in the midst of consultations and the draft management plan; there has been one meeting of the advisory board; should be tied up by the end of the fiscal year; Gabriola – there has been no progress but meetings are planned during the next few months; no RIAS?s have yet been submitted for East Coast MPAs.

Race Rocks Management Plan

  • Kelly Francis discussed the notion of an overarching strategic vision for RR in which the ER and MPA management plans are nested; this recognizes differing mandates of provincial and federal governments and allows for overlap between them.
  • Garry Fletcher asked how two plans would be dealt with, when originally there was to be only one plan.
  • Kelly Francis explained that the two management plans will be linked and will appear as one management plan for RR; logistics will be understood as single entity.
  • Chris Kissinger pointed out that whether there are one or two plans, there are areas where the provincial and federal governments cannot speak for one another; relevant chapters in parallel documents beneath umbrella document would work well for evryone with the potential for First Nations elements to fit in as well.
  • Garry Fletcher felt there should be a single management plan and expressed disappointment that his advice on this matter has not been taken.
  • Angus Matthews suggested that cross-referencing would become confusing and that the ecosystem dictates a need for a single, unified document with parts that detail the responsibility of each agency; this would address the legal authorities of each; he pointed out that it was a recommendation of the Board and part of the pilot to determine how effectively the provincial and federal governments can manage RR.
  • Chris Kissinger passed out latest draft of provincial ER management plan which was pulled together by Marty Roberts who is a new face but familiar with the background and the process; he opened the floor to comments on the document.
  • Marty Roberts explained that the planis essentially the same one that was prepared of the period of time when the pilot was announced but was put on hold to allow the MPA process to unfold; he has taken the existing plan and updated it with recommendations and key issues that were unresolved but incorporated direction from the RRAB which makes it a far more substantial document; he further stated that a document like this is difficult to review because of its size and encouraged written comments based on the discussion during the meeting.
  • Angus Matthews expressed his satisfaction at seeing that all recommendations made by RRAB were in the document; he complimented the work and the updates; he still holds major reservations about First Nations and fears that the upcoming provincial treaty referendum will sour relations with First Nations because of the larger referendum issue; he asked what latitude the province had in dealing with fiduciary responsibility towards First Nations; he drew attention to p.12, which deas with First Nations relations and suggested that there needs to be stronger emphasis on First Nations’ management role, not simply discussion and relationship building; that the identification of First Nations’ management role is absent, the word “management” might be added to “objectives” here; felt the document must be more proactive in this area; also pointed a large gap in p. 26 that deals with roles, responsibilities and relationships; he suggested that First Nations secton should be inserted heretonsure issue is addressed fully.
  • Marty Roberts asked Angus for a sense of wording with respect to this; he suggested a continuum from consulting to shared decision-making.
  • Angus Matthews agreed that wording should indicate direction towards shared decision-making and the establishment of a management committee; he brought up the example of Cape Scott as a model.
  • Marty Roberts felt that the province was unclear in providing direction and mandate and asked when First Nations’ right to hunt can be infringed upon for the purposes of conservation; he cited the example of the protection of nesting seabirds at RR, indicating that the province’s position would be that this should be restricted because of conservation needs; he indicated further that the province will be reluctant to enter into shared decision-making and will remain true to the ER act; evolution is important along with the notion of shared responsibility for a mandate of shared protection however he is not optimistic; he pointed out that the First Nations network is very good and in some cases the province will utilise this, for example, the central coast where there is more willingness to enter into shared management of interim protected areas; First Nations want to re-visit land use decisions with shared decision-making.
  • Angus Matthews pointed out that this approach does not corresponding to the recommendations of RRAB and that the province could derail federal plans because of this discrepancy; there could be some flexibility on the conservation issue with respect to the harvesting of Sea Gull Eggs from Great Race Rocks, however he felt there could be a high level of co-operation from First Nations; he felt the province should do whatever it can to facilitate this and that if the federal government can pull together the larger picture with First Nations it would be a huge success.
  • Keith Symington suggested that shared decision-making or co-management arrangements could be fleshed out but that the this is not reflected in the current ER plan and will be picked upon by First Nations; the Board must look very carefully at the language of the plan and specify First Nations rights to harvest.
  • Chris Kissinger pointed out that the document does reference Douglas Treaty and fishing rights, among others.
  • eith Symington felt that there should also be included an element of no-take recommendations, reflecting rights to harvest still exist and that the plan is to work with First Nations to respect conservation goals; he felt First Nations would win in any battle that might ensue over this issue.
  • Marty Roberts expressed hope not to see this a battle and offered the notion of asking permission for harvesting and that First Nations are aware of the law, and the risk of being charged; he noted the need for further dialogue before this activity is engaged in and that an agreement could be drawn up to accommodate these activities as long as a sense of commitment and honouring of protocols vis a vis government to government relations.
  • Angus Matthews mentioned that Tom Sampson had suggested that First Nations would agree to a five-year period of total protection to monitor the effects of the MPA and evaluate its effectiveness; the big challenge lies in the profile and the fact that regulations exist is an invitation to test those regulations rather than promoting discussion; he has a great deal of faith in the potential to forge relationships over conservation objectives.
  • Keith Symington discussed the need to link conservation objectives to the steering committee in order to ease misgivings and participate in conservation objectives; he noted the lack of content with respect to the application of traditional knowledge and thatCPAWS supports this and is looking forward to cohesion between the provincial and federal agencies.
  • Marty Roberts state that not much has changed in terms of First Nations’ use of the area and that it is still subject to same laws including the fishing closure that has been in place since 1991.
  • Angus Matthews felt that there have been some changes, e.g. Great Race Rock is now included in the ER, and pointed out that the fishery closure only applies to groundfish.
  • Keith Symington felt that if no-take were gazetted alarm would be raised.
  • Jennie Sparkes noted that elements of the document are streamlined to specific needs but that it also contains an umbrella component; she referred to the final on page 5 referring to the management plan and agreement pointing out that this was fine for the umbrella level however at the provincial level it may not be appropriate. She suggested tat this might be identified as a component of the plan and not the basis for it.
  • Marc Pakenham suggested that one area in which progress was needed was to determine a hierarchy in the “sea” of recommendations, first and second priorities; there are many recommendations from RRAB, priorities from the management plan all with implications for resources; he felt that the RRAB must determine direction and priorities since there can only be so many first priorities, i.e where to start?
  • Garry Fletcher felt that the map of the ER is inadequate and that a CHS chart should be used onto which the ER boundary is superimposed.
  • Chris Kissinger responded that the province was limited to the TRIM database and inquired whether access to CHS charts was possible.
  • Garry Fletcher also noted the importance of presenting areas outside the ER.
  • Keith Symington added some points about formatting and clarification of reasons for establishment of the ER on p.11, i.e. education and research vs. high volume intertidal research.
  • Cheryl Borris responded that there are several reasons for establishing an ER but that the primary ones are research and education, therefore this section could be reorganized with different subheadings.
  • Chris Kissinger pointed out that each purpose appropriate to the ER has been highlighted in the document.
  • Garry Fletcher wished to add “marine biology” to p. 33 and felt that aquaculture should be added as a consumptive use; he also inquired into how dynamic/adaptive, i.e. can it be changed or added to?
  • Jennie Sparkes asked whether consultation would be required for this?
  • Chris Kissinger responded that the document is part of the consultations; that it was constructed with the knowledge that consultations are required; that the strategy for consultation on the document has not been formalized and that there is no legal requirement for this.
  • Jennie Sparkes suggested it might be worthwhile to put this draft out for consultation along with DFO’s plan to avoid public confusion.
  • Chris Kissinger responded that it was still necessary to get Pearson College signed off with permits.
  • Angus Matthews suggested posting the plan on the website and noted that Ecological Reserves links have gone missing from the BC Parks website.
  • Marty Roberts responded that they fall under protected areas and that there is on going debate over separate legislation (between ERs and parks).
  • Keith Symington, referring to p.17, brought up the need to flesh out the issue of ocean dumping adjacent to the ER.
  • Marty Roberts commented that marine areas are very susceptible to adjacency issues and that it’s important to include the statement.
  • Angus Matthews commented that the RRAB has asked the province to consider adjacency.
  • Kelly Francis stated that a memo had been sent with respect to this but that she was unsure of the response.
  • Marc Pakenham pointed out that nautical charts indicate that RR is within the blast zone of Benthic Island and also within the safety perimeter of Benthic Island and that this incongruity needs to be addressed.
  • Chris Kissinger commented that the province is participating in a process to ensure the prohibition of dumping.
  • Garry Fletcher noted an edict from the Port of Vancouver stipulating no dumping unless west of RR.
  • Kelly Francis mentioned that there should be discussions with a habitat biologist on this issue, but statistics show that there has been no dumping here.
  • Jennie Sparkes commented that the key management issues and opportunities on p.8 have negative connotations; she pointed out differing management perceptions of First Nation actions within the MPA and ER; she felt it would be prudent for the province to attend First Nations meeting with federal government.
  • Kelly Francis agreed, proposed meeting in January.


Whale Watching Incident at RR

  • Garry Fletcher presented video on Harlequin Ducks that over-winter in RR; the birds are on the rocks because a sea lion has just passed; he presented video of a whale watching incident which he took from the tower; Discovery Launch and the Prince of Whales were on scene along with several hundred seals and sea lions that are normally okay with the boats; POW came around north end and caused stampede on north section of the rock; it was an accident but they do happen due to narrow gap in passage between kelp and island; he felt that passengers standing on the top deck made the profile of the vessel look larger, inciting a flight response; this behaviour can be expected in the public boat commercial operator should know better; he suggested that if this is how guidelines are interpreted then there is something wrong and the behaviour is not acceptable.

Marine Mammal Monitoring Project

  • Marc Pakenham tied the above incident into the M3 project and discussion with industry about its guidelines; RR has not been discussed recently but more observational data required to evaluate the validity of the guidelines; works into M3 project and discussion with industry about their guidelines; Marc described the M3 program which began in June to monitor eco-tourism in the trans-boundary area inorder to characterize viewing and vessel/human interactions; second function is outreach to educate and promote stewardship; two staff members worked throughout the summer monitoring activities from the vessel; the program was funded through DFO and HSP, VOLWS, Pearson College, Vancouver Aquarium and Soundwatch; the industry is monitored according to their own guidelines and guidelines approved by the US and Canada; guidelines developed by M3 and others are distinguished from WWOANW in that they are simple nd easy to understand; future activities will be monitored according to these guidelines that depart from inusy on two points: parking in the path of whales and engaging in dolphin bow-riding (both activities allowed for in WWOANW); larger number of boats leading to worse behaviour such as crowding, getting in path; will work with industry on consolidation of guidelines; many issues with commercial vessels, aviation, ferries (e.g. Seattle which engages in opportunistic viewing activities; monitoring at RR art of M3 activities, volunteers; need to work to align RR monitoring with M3; departure between M3 guidelies and vessels operating at RR; updated version of brochure will be printed; precautionary approach being taken and onus is on industry to prove no harm; notion that no disturbance is acceptable – once disturbance occurs behaviour has gone too far; Marc has abstracts from papers on effects of repeated disturbances on haul-outs that can lead to long-term evacuation; M3 looking at both short and long-ter impacts; southern residents have been assigned endangered status (COSEWIC); transients are threatened as re northen resident population; work supports recovery plans to be developed by DFO; heighten intensity of monitoring activities and resources devoted to these creatures; also working on development of marine mammal regulations including federal regulations on marine mammal viewing; DFO consultations will take place in the New Year; licensing is being discussed and there is some interest on the east cost, this issue needs more thorough examination on west coast; 30 000 brochures have been printed up and distributed broadly in Puget Sound; US Fish and Wildlife Service has indicated it will support further printing for distribution in Puget Sound; M3 examining use of different platforms for observing behaviour such as aerial observation, digital video analysis.
  • Cheryl Borris asked whether DFO can regulate/stop whale watching in the same way that it does fishing.Marc Pakenham responded that there was considerable interest in this; he went on to discuss the presentation of papers and the Marine Mammal Biology Conference in Vancouver on the impacts of noise on cetaceans and mammals; M3 plans to work with Dr. David Bain to look at acoustic impacts; indicated there may be a move towards temporal respite for orcas; the US may also move orcas to their endangered species list which will create a major shift in the management regime; he brought up the impending changes to the vessel management scheme which will place it in closer proximity to San Juan island and the _ mile exclusion zone for whale watching.
  • Angus Matthews stated that commercial whale watchers have indicated they will not enter RR when whales are present; he indicated that whale watcher compliance at Race Rocks has been very good and that the no-go zone has been respected.
  • Marc Pakenham pointed out that boats continue to move very close to shore, not necessarily in Race passage, but elsewhere.
  • Angus Matthews responded that there is a separate set of standards for operation at Race Rocks that do no correspond with M3 guidelines and that the RR guidelines are lax compared to these.
  • Marc Pakenham indicated that the gap between these guidelines is closing, and that there have been discussions with Dan Kukat and the Association; M3 guidelines are starting to get buy-in from industry.
  • Garry Fletcher asked whether RRAB could recommend setting up a registry for whale watching boats in the area.
  • Marc Pakenham mentioned the potential for an observer program, modeled on fishery observer programs.
  • Kelly Francis commented that the guidelines will form the basis of regulations.
  • Marc Pakenham commented that CPAWS has some funding for harmonization of nternational guidelines; Marc has had some discussions with colleagues in Mexico, to incorporate guidelines into Baja to Bearing initiative.
  • Angus Matthews brought up two further issues that are on-going: Department of National Defence disruptions and the unexpected blasting on September 14 for which there was no notification given at Rare Rocks; and kayak “disturbance by stealth”.
  • Marc Pakenham responded that M3 has had meetings with kayak guides alliance to discuss guidelines; industry representatives have recognized problems associated with kayaks at Race Rocks and have indicated a willingness to explore voluntary provision to stay out of RR.
  • Chris Kissinger asked how whale watching guidelines might be reflected in the management plan.
  • Marc Pakenham commented that this should be a priority item for the RRAB and the importance of keeping the process alive; there is a ned to clarify RR guidelines by the whale watching industry.
  • Angus Matthews felt that the M3 guidelines wouldn’t work at RR and must be tailored to the area; he suggested that voluntary guidelines need to be developed and then turned into regulations.
  • Chris Kissinger again asked where these might fit into the management plan.
  • Marc Pakenham commented that all recommendations are subject to monitoring therefore further evaluation of M3 guidelines will indicate how effective they are.
  • Chris Kissinger suggested that if we know that regulations are on their way then should RRAB be proactive i.e. management plan to reflect this?
  • Jennie Sparkes responded that measures currently in place are those that have been recommended by RRAB; any new findings must be presented to the Board and then reviewed accordingly.
  • Marty Robrts felt that the plan could be more explicit; where monitoring reveals that these guidelines are not adequate they must be revisited.
  • Marc Pakenham indicated that a definition of disturbance might be agreed upon in addition to adopting a principle of “no disturbance”.
  • Garry Fletcher brought up the weekly presence of a UVic Research vessel that has not notified Pearson College of BC Parks of its activities and that there seems to beno accountability in this case; he has observed some form of testing going.
  • Marty Roberts responded that the UVic class for which the boat is operated are advocates of marine mammal protection however jurisdictions must still be respected – little awareness of what activities are being undertaken.
  • Marc Pakenham pointed out that research permits are a function of DFO; if research is being conducted then it must be subject to DFO permit; h suggested that communication within DFO may be lacking in this case; M3 is dealing with large number of researchers, photographers, that have permits; this behaviour needs to be monitored also and there is a case to be made for the identification of research vessels on the water.
  • Marty Roberts pointed out that the Ecological Reserve Act is clear on permitting; need to look at a more seamless response between DFO and the province.
  • Cheryl inqured into the adaptability of the management plan and whether it can provide for the review of whale watching guidelines and adapt accordingly.
  • Chris Kissinger indicated that changes could be made when there were enough smaller issues or pressing larger ones to warrant revision.
  • Marty Roberts added that the role of RRAB is to bring up issues that need to be addressed, including when to revisit the management plan.

Concluding discussion

  • Marc Pakenham commented that racerocks.com is a wonderful website, its webcasting is considered groundbreaking technology and is every effective.
  • Angus Matthews pointed out the daily log feature on the website and drew attention to Carol Slater’s excellent entry from the previous evening.
  • There was general discussion of CBC Radio Ideas programs for 8-art Ocean series
  • Angus Matthews brought up the need for feedback; stated that RR’s money situation is grim – BC Parks has little money other than for maintenance and some money has come from DFO for monitoring work; daily costs to run RR are $410/day or $150,000/year. Some money has just been donated by the Richard Ivey Foundation in addition to Dr. Anita Voss and the Friends of Ecological Reserves; he mentioned the recommendation for a traditional use study, indicating it s a priority action and offered Pearson College’s facilities to facilitate any initiatives in this area.
  • There was further general discussion of the management plan including the possibility of providing a link for Board members to access the document on line.
  • Angus Matthews brought up concerns about attendance at the meeting.
  • Marc Pakenham responded that all members had been contacted.