Four-month campaign to name Salish Sea a World Heritage Site begins
In this photo taken July 31, 2015, an orca whale breaches in view of Mount Baker, some 95 kilometres distant, in the Salish Sea in the San Juan Islands, Wash. (AP /Elaine Thompson)
A campaign has kicked off on Canada’s west coast to have the Salish Sea declared a World Heritage Site.
"The Salish Sea is a unique inner sea with a long history of providing food and sustenance, habitat and biodiversity for marine species, and a wealth of resources to all those living alongside its shores," stated Laurie Gourlay, the interim director of the Salish Sea Trust that's in charge of the new campaign.
The Salish Sea, which has been registered as a non-profit society, extends across the U.S.-Canada border and has been the subject of many studies, conferences and proposals.
"The Salish Sea's historical, cultural and natural heritage is rich and reflects the highest tenets and objectives of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites,” Gourlay said.
The Salish Sea Trust has begun its four-month campaign to submit the application to be reviewed by Parks Canada.
It will then be forwarded to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Site program in January.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made it an election promise to increase Canada’s marine protected areas – five per cent by 2017 and 10 per cent by 2020.
In August, Trudeau invited Canadians to nominate areas as candidates for UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the nominations will be revealed in 2017 in honour of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.
The minister is working on a committee consisting of heritage experts to look over submissions for Canada’s next world heritage bid.
To gain world heritage status, sites must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, World Heritage Sites are areas assigned by UNESCO with the goal of preserving places of “cultural, natural and historic significance.”
There are 18 World Heritage Sites in Canada – the oldest being Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories, designated in 1978, and the newest is the Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve in Newfoundland, designated in 2016.
With files from the Canadian Press