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Misool Private Marine Reserve
Photo Credit: Moonfish Media for Kitasoo Xai'xais Stewardship Authority
Photo Credit: Moonfish Media for Kitasoo Xai'xais Stewardship Authority
As stewards of their traditional territory, the Kitasoo Xai'xais First Nation established Gitdisdzu Lugyeks Marine Protected Area to protect shallow marine ecosystems that are integral to their culture and traditions.
As stewards of their traditional territory, the Kitasoo Xai'xais First Nation established Gitdisdzu Lugyeks Marine Protected Area to protect shallow marine ecosystems that are integral to their culture and traditions.

Along the coast of Swindle Island, British Columbia, nestled along the Great Bear Rainforest, lie the rich waters of Gitdisdzu Lugyeks (also known as Kitasu Bay). The Bay's nutrient-rich swells provide refuge to a variety of fish, seabirds, and whales. The submerged eelgrass meadows and kelp forests serve as the most important herring spawning grounds on the British Columbian coast, as well as a nursery for a myriad of other juvenile fish.

Within the Indigenous territory of the Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nation, Gitdisdzu Lugyeks is also an integral part of the culture, livelihoods, and traditions of the local community. It is known as a spiritual place whose waters and marine life are vital to the Nation's economy, health, and culture.

As stewards of the lands they call home, the Kitasoo/Xai'xais Nation took action to protect these vital waters and advance Indigenous-led conservation in Canada by creating a permanent 33.5 square kilometer marine protected area in the Bay. Gitdisdzu Lugyeks MPA was formally designated and implemented by the Kitasoo Xai’xais Hereditary Chiefs in June 2022, and the corresponding management plan was put into effect in October 2023.

Gitdisdzu Lugyeks MPA is managed by the Kitasoo Xai’xais Stewardship Authority using a combination of traditional knowledge and the latest marine science with hopes that it will provide a blueprint for responsible marine stewardship that incorporates traditional values. Management will follow the guiding priniciples of the Nation: loomsk (respect), sagayt k’uulm goot (interconnectedness), sityaaw (reciprocity), and gugwilx’ya’ansk (intergenerational knowledge).

Having lived on the surrounding lands for thousands of years, the Kitasoo Xai'xais know the Bay's waters better than anyone. Already on the water every day as part of the Territory's management, the Kitasoo Xai'xais Guardian Watchmen will monitor and care for Gitdisdzu Lugyeks MPA. The leadership and stewardship of the Kitasoo Xai'xais Nation will ensure the continuity of their culture and protect the vital biodiversity and marine resources of the Bay for current and future generations.

Gitdisdzu Lugyeks Marine Protected Area

Blue Park Facts
  • Award
  • Gold
  • Award Year
  • 2024
  • Management
  • Kitasoo Xai’xais Stewardship Authority
  • Size
  • 33.5 km²
  • Other Awards and Designations
  • N/A
Photo Credit: Moonfish Media
Photo Credit: Moonfish Media
Photo Credit: Moonfish Media
Photo Credit: Moonfish Media
4 of the 5 main Pacific herring populations on Canada's west coast have crashed due to over-fishing. The last reamaining viable stock in the Salish Sea in still being fished at a rate of 20% annualy. This number does not take into account the needs of the ecosystem, ignoring the countless species that rely on herring as a critical food source. Tell Fisheries Minister Wilkinson not to kill the foundation of the west coast. Visit the link in my profile to learn more. With @pacificwild
Photo Credit: Tavish Campbell