Nation says recent grounding events show the limits of "world class" ship safety; nation reserves the right to determine what ships are allowed to transit through its territorial waters. HARTLEY BAY (July 23, 2014) - Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at First Nation, was returning from a commercial fishing trip early this morning when he saw the listing 228-metre Amakusa Island bulk carrier being towed into Prince Rupert harbour for repairs.
The double-bottomed ship sustained a large six-metre gash in its hull that flooded two ballast tanks when it ran aground in Prince Rupert's outer harbour last week.
Photos of the ship are available here: http://ow.ly/zvWHJ
"This incident shows us just how shallow the federal government and industry's promises of "world class" ship and tanker safety are," said Clifton. "In each of the past two groundings in Prince Rupert, a BC pilot was on board, and while these pilots are accomplished mariners, they are not immune to human error."
The Gitga'at First Nation has launched a court challenge of the federal cabinet's decision to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers project, and is seeking a declaration of Aboriginal title that would affirm that the waters and routes of marine travel through the core of Gitga'at Territory are Gitga'at's to use, and it is for the Gitga'at to collectively decide what uses their lands, waters and resources can be put to.
"With the sinking of the Queen of the North, our nation knows only too well the true costs of human error," said Clifton. "It's for that reason that we reserve the right to decide what uses our waters can be put to."
Gitga'at territory encompasses approximately 7,500 square kilometres of land and water, including a major portion of Douglas Channel, which is the proposed route oil tankers would have to travel to get to and from Kitimat.
Andrew Frank Communications Officer Gitga’at First Nation 604-367-2112