Raincoast is going to Ottawa… again!

Raincoast’s Director of our Fraser River Salmon Conservation Program, Kristen Walters, will be attending Nature on the Hill – an event hosted by Nature Canada that connects conservationists with Members of Parliament to discuss pressing biodiversity issues.

From April 29 to May 2, Nature Canada is joining forces with groups across the country for Nature on the Hill—a unique and critical opportunity to ensure that parliamentarians and decision-makers deliver on Canada’s bold promises to halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

Raincoast is excited to be selected as Nature Canada’s West Coast partner to highlight the challenges our coastal ecosystems and species face under siloed decision-making, unsustainable land-use decisions, and a rapidly changing climate. 

For the second year in a row, Kristen Walters will be attending Nature on the Hill on behalf of Raincoast. Last year, Kristen met with Members of Parliament from British Columbia and called on the government to reject the megaport expansion project, Roberts Bank Terminal 2, which will have significant adverse effects on endangered Southern Resident killer whales due to impacts to Chinook salmon prey availability, underwater noise, and potential ship strikes.

Four people in suits smiling for the camera.
MP Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni).
Three people in suits standing in front of a bookshelf. One is holding a Nature Canada folder.
MP Taleeb Noormohamed (Vancouver Granville).
Four people in suits smiling for the camera in a parliamentary office.
MP Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay).

This year, Raincoast will be one of the many conservation groups advocating for the implementation of biodiversity accountability legislation, which will enact the federal 2030 National Biodiversity Strategy into law. This law would require the government to meet the goals of halting and reversing biodiversity loss, and protecting 30% of lands and waters by 2030, as outlined in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

In Ottawa, Kristen will also focus on advocating for place-based issues in British Columbia, such as threats facing endangered Southern Resident killer whales and at-risk Pacific salmon populations.

Raincoast’s goals for Nature on the Hill

1. Legislation of a mandatory 1,000 metre vessel buffer zone for Southern Resident killer whales

Underwater noise and physical disturbance from vessels affects the ability of Southern Resident killer whales to communicate successfully and forage efficiently. Southern Resident killer whales can lose more than 50% of their echolocation range when foraging near commercial shipping traffic. Increased shipping traffic from container expansions at Roberts Bank, and oil tankers for Trans Mountain terminal will make it harder for these whales to catch salmon.

Recently, Washington State (U.S.), passed legislation (Senate Bill 5371) that establishes a mandatory 1,000-yard buffer for recreational and commercial whale watching vessels around Southern Resident killer whales. The law comes into effect in January, 2025, and will reduce the effects of vessel noise and disturbance on these whales.

Contact your Member of Parliament to urge the federal government to implement matching 1,000 metre buffer zones for vessels. This will reduce the negative impacts of underwater noise on nutritionally-stressed Southern Resident killer whales.

2. Renewal of the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative

Raincoast strongly supports the renewal of the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI). The PSSI was established in 2021, and was a once in a generation $647 million investment in salmon recovery. It was intended to be a 15-year initiative spanning over three salmon generations, however, the federal government has indicated it will soon expire. This initiative has funded new salmon stewardship projects, hatchery reform, harvest transformation, and reduced silos between government departments. A renewal of the PSSI would ensure ongoing investment in salmon recovery through the next election cycle.

3. Ending open-net pen aquaculture in British Columbia 

On the coast of British Columbia, 85 aquaculture licenses that allow salmon farming in open-net pens are due to expire on June 30th. Removing open-net pens has been decades in the making. Over 10 years of peer-reviewed science has identified numerous risks open-net pen salmon farms pose to wild Pacific salmon through the transfer of harmful parasites and pathogens.

However, of these 85 licenses, 66 are seeking a 6-year renewal. Raincoast does not support the government’s consideration of up to a 6-year license renewal for fish farms. We hope this government will deny these renewals and re-commit itself to the promise of a 2025 Aquaculture Transition plan. British Columbia is already experiencing significant declines in wild salmon populations, and as such, a transition away from open-net pen aquaculture is a critical step in advancing the recovery of wild salmon populations.

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.