Between 1992 – 93 catches of wild Coho, Chinook and Steelhead in the Strait of Georgia abruptly and mysteriously declined by 90%. The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project was launched five years ago to find out what caused these losses and what needs to be done to recover them. The Pacific Salmon Foundation has identified three key activities to benefit salmon now and in the future. Please give generously today and help us raise $100,000 to carry on these projects. Your donation will be matched thanks to a challenge fund set-up by the Sitka Foundation. Also, you could win a prize incentive package donated by Stanley and Proline Sports.
Every dollar you donate will be matched! And for every $100 you donate you will be entered to win an outdoor lifestyle package donated by Stanley and Proline Sports! $100 = 1 entry, $5 = 5 entries. See package in media carousel below.
1) Healthy Habitats = Healthy Salmon
Estuaries are some of the most ecologically productive habitat in the world, supporting hundreds of different marine species including salmon. But they are also hotspots for human activity and development. That's why volunteers are hauling up hundreds of tonnes of underwater garbage, including abandoned boats, that are damaging nearshore habitat in over 20 different sites around the Strait of Georgia. Once debris is removed, volunteers will attach eelgrass shoots to washers and divers will replant the eelgrass shoots - prime habitat for juvenile salmon. (See media carousel for a video on this project)
One major finding through the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is that wild salmon need healthy, interconnected habitats that protect salmon from the time they emerge from gravel to the period they migrate downstream and into estuaries. Our research revealed significant salmon losses in rivers from predators including herons, mergansers, raccoons and bull trout. Historical depletion of side channel habitat away from the mainstem, coupled with lower flows in rivers resulting from climate change have left juvenile salmon more exposed. Young salmon need side channels with low hanging vegetation that provide refuge from the fast-flowing waters of the mainstem and protection from predators. Such plant cover is also vital for keeping the water shaded and cool. Once the young salmon reach estuaries, healthy eelgrass and kelp habitat become vitally important for shelter and food supply as juveniles fatten up for their ocean journey.
Your donation today will support volunteer organizations that are building side channels, revitalizing streamside plant habitats, and restoring nearshore eelgrass beds and kelp forests in sites surrounding the Strait of Georgia.
2) Supporting Citizen Scientists
Many readers may remember ‘The Warm Blob’ that dominated headlines for the past few years. In the salmon world it meant unpredictable impacts to the food web and salmon returns. It also underlined the need for constant monitoring and a complete picture of the entire ever-changing Strait of Georgia environment. Essentially we need to be everywhere at once, all the time…and on a limited budget!
Enter the Citizen Science Program, one of the most successful by-products of the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project. The program outfits volunteers who sample on the same day in nine different areas of the Strait, allowing for comparative data points across the entire Strait of Georgia ecosystem. These volunteers use their own fishing vessels to take key oceanographic measurements, then transmit the data through a smartphone app to a data management system at Ocean Networks Canada. The data are being utilized for research and decision-making on juvenile salmon distributions, ocean acidification, disease development in Pacific salmon, nearshore habitat restoration and more.
3) Researching Salmon Disease
Last year the Pacific Salmon Foundation released a position statement recommending that all B.C. salmon aquaculture operations should be moved to closed-containment facilities on land. The position was informed by findings through the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative – a partnership between the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Genome BC. The Initiative was started to provide scientific clarity on interactions between wild, hatchery and aquaculture salmon, and the presence of salmon diseases that could undermine Pacific salmon survival.
Thanks to cutting-edge genomic technology a huge volume of samples have been analysed. To date, these samples have revealed the first finding of Piscine Reovirus (PRV) on a B.C. salmon farm, the association between PRV and jaundice anemia in Chinook (see media carousel), and the identification of eight new viruses from aquaculture and wild salmon. More work is required to determine if exchange of these viruses is occurring between farmed and wild salmon. These tools could also be used to improve hatchery release strategies and survival for hatchery fish.