Investigate. Inform. Inspire.
For a long time, the Raincoast Conservation Foundation was known primarily for our conservation efforts in and around the Great Bear Rainforest where we have worked collaboratively to protect the region’s namesake bears and their habitat. Several years ago, we made the decision to expand our work across the British Columbia coast with a new focus on the Salish Sea. We took this direction recognizing that the connectivity of coastal ecosystems is not limited by lines on maps.
We could see the emerging challenges to the Salish Sea from increasing industrialization, and the accompanying threats to the region’s ecology and biodiversity. These threats are exemplified by the plight of the Southern Resident killer whales – the region’s top predator, and the salmon populations of the Fraser River.
We identified gaps in scientific research that are needed to inform the public discourse, environmental assessments and decision making processes related to the future of the Salish Sea. Initiating our involvement in the Salish Sea was a substantive effort and required developing a strong research program that would underpin our conservation initiatives and community engagement.
I am pleased to report that we have accomplished this, and much more. Our 2016 Salish Sea highlights are below. This work has been made possible by a highly skilled and dedicated staff, the building of relationships with individuals and their communities, numerous partners and you, our supporters.
As 2016 closes, I invite you to learn more about our work in Tracking Raincoast into 2017. Happy New Year and thank you for your support of our efforts in the Salish Sea.
For the coast,
P.S. – You still have time to receive a 2016 tax receipt if you donate before the end of the year.
2016 Raincoast highlights from the Salish Sea
Southern Resident killer whale research and conservation
We produced a Population Viability Analysis to understand and rank threats facing this endangered population and to provide direction on the most effective conservation actions available. As one of the Canada’s most iconic and endangered group of animals, we plan to identify an independent Action Plan, as action for their survival cannot wait.
Interveners in the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion
We submitted 500 pages of scientific evidence to the National Energy Board on the impacts the TMX would have on Southern Resident killer whales, Fraser River salmon and the Salish Sea. In 2016, we filed two legal actions to the TMX, challenging the NEB recommendation for approval and the federal cabinet approval of the project. Both are before the courts.
Fraser River estuary and juvenile salmon research
2016 was the pilot year of this multi-year study. Using DNA analysis, we are learning how populations of juvenile Chinook salmon use the different habitats in the Fraser estuary. Our goal is to understand how to better protect rearing habitat for some of Canada’s most important runs of wild salmon.
Building a vision for salmon in the Lower Fraser
We continue to develop a common vision with partners, mapping the potential scope for habitat protection and restoration, identifying salmon-friendly flood management options and helping to assess strategies for ensuring the long-term resilience of the Fraser River estuary. As interveners in the federal review of Robert’s Bank port expansion, we also critiqued how this project may impact the rearing grounds of Chinook salmon.
Salish Sea spill map and ocean current study
Now in its fourth year, our drift card deployment has shown that spilled oil would likely travel much farther than Kinder Morgan’s simulations suggest. To date, we’ve dropped more than 5,000 cards in 42 deployments, and have received reports of more than 2,200 recoveries. With analysis ongoing and academic publications pending, our drift card project uniquely integrates citizen science and outreach.
Salish Sea emerging stewards program
To support youth environmental stewardship, we are working with local First Nations to develop programs that use their traditional territories and Raincoast’s research vessel Achiever as a classroom with the goal of engaging the next generation in science and conservation.