An Update to our Haida Gwaii Customers

Jan 24, 2024

CityWest Haida NCRD

We want to update the Haida Gwaii community on the current service interruption. Since December 24th, 2023, our subsea fiber optic cable, stretching from Tlell to Bonilla Island, has suffered four distinct breakages due to unsanctioned crab fishing activities on a critical infrastructure right-of-way.

Our dedicated teams have successfully repaired two of these breaks along the Hecate Strait to ensure the complete restoration of your services. The repair work has been challenging due to the harsh winter conditions, but we are nearing the completion of full-service restoration. We extend our gratitude to the Haida repair team from Highlander Marine Services for their thorough and efficient work on the subsea cable near Tlell. No one knows the water better than this team and we are grateful for their partnership and efforts.Haida Gwaii Cable

Investigations have shown that a handful of fishing vessels are deliberately disabling their AIS beacons, making it impossible to track their activities on the water (see image - marine vessel charts indicate an absence of fishing vessels in the vicinity. However, crabbing pots are observed directly on top of the Haida Gwaii subsea fiber line and right-of-way). We have been informed, that by law, these vessels are required to keep their AIS systems in operation for at least 30 minutes immediately before departure and for the entire duration of the voyage. 

These unfortunate events seem to only be caused by a small group of less than a handful of crabbing vessels who continue to ignore the right-of-way and directly affect connectivity for all our customers on Haida Gwaii, causing significant damages to all involved.

Since the start of this project, the Connected Coast Network’s map, which includes the route of the subsea cable to Haida Gwaii, has been publicly available on mariner charts to prevent these avoidable outages. Teams have also reached out to the local Crabbing Association to ensure appropriate distribution of knowledge about your subsea fibre line.

We have appealed to the government to step up enforcement activities to protect the line in order to safeguard and improve connectivity to Haida Gwaii.

We are working diligently with the province of B.C., MLA Rice, MP Bachrach, and the federal government, to upgrade the existing fibre line with an armoured line to protect it from crabbing and fishing activities. We also have a provincially supported CRTC application to build a secondary fibre cable to Haida Gwaii, to serve as a full-service backup link to the existing cable.

While we work to strengthen the Connected Coast Network, we are also in the process of doubling the capacity of our existing on-island backup link. This will give our customers faster speeds and allow you to use your Stream TV services during a fibre break.

CityWest and our partners at the Council of the Haida Nation, Old Massett Band Council, Skidegate Band Council, and the North Coast Regional District are all committed to improving connectivity to Haida Gwaii. And we will continue to endeavour to bring you the best services possible.