Protecting coastal aquatic ecosystems in British Columbia through important restoration work
December 1, 2023
Gibsons, BC - Canada’s oceans and waterways are home to diverse ecosystems that play an important role in the health of Canadians and the environment. Climate change, pollution, and shipping activities can threaten marine life. Through Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is increasing protections and further preserving these important marine ecosystems.
Today the Member of Parliament for West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country, Patrick Weiler, on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, announced more than $12 million for 6 projects in British Columbia under the Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund (AERF). This fund supports projects to conserve and restore our aquatic ecosystems by addressing threats in these environments.
Projects receiving funding as part of today’s announcement include:
- $1,697,551 over the next four years to the Tla’amin Nation Government to work with partners to restore and support the reestablishment of Pacific salmon populations in the Unwin Lake watershed.
- $1,028,750 over the next four years for the British Columbia Conservation Foundation (BCCF) to work in partnership with shíshálh and Tla'amin Nations to help restore and enhance kelp forests along the Sunshine Coast with the intent to restore over 67,000 sq. metres of kelp at 25 sites.
- $1,502,135 over the next four years for the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society to work with partners to restore and enhance nearshore marine ecosystems along the east coast of Vancouver Island, including tidal marshes, eelgrass beds and kelp forests, critical rearing habitat and migratory corridors for Pacific salmonids.
- $5,000,000 over five years for Nature Trust British Columbia (NTBC) to work with partners to enhance climate change resilience by restoring estuarine and riparian habitats in the Salish Sea and North Vancouver Island.
- $312,602 over the next four years for Skeena Knowledge Trust to create a comprehensive salmon-specific project registry that will provide an overview of all completed aquatic-based salmon restoration projects across the Skeena River watershed and estuary.
- $2,599,000 over the next four years for Squamish River Watershed Society to restore Chinook salmon habitat within upper Howe Sound, including the Stawamus and Squamish River estuaries.
As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, the AERF supports projects to identify coastal and inland restoration priorities, develop and implement aquatic restoration plans, and stimulate partnership with Indigenous Peoples, conservation groups, and academia to address threats to Canadian aquatic species and habitats. Activities funded under the AERF will also help to address the root causes of impacts on those environments. Projects will help to protect and restore aquatic habitat for Canada’s coastline, estuaries, and inland regions.
The Oceans Protection Plan is a Canadian success story. When Indigenous Peoples, industry, communities, experts, academia, and government work together to protect our environment, grow our economy, and support good jobs across the country, we deliver real results. Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan will keep our oceans and coasts healthy, advance reconciliation, and build a clean future for our children and grandchildren.
“The Government of Canada is committed to taking action to restore and safeguard the health of our ocean and freshwater ecosystems. We are proud to help fund the work of these recipients in restoring and enhancing priority coastal and upstream aquatic areas. Working together, we can enhance our abilities to combat climate change through coastal restoration activities.”
The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“Canada’s coasts support our communities, enable international trade, are home to precious ecosystems, and play a key role in strengthening our economy. Under the Oceans Protection Plan—the largest investment ever made to preserve Canada’s coasts and waterways—the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Fund will help us continue to protect and restore aquatic ecosystems across British Columbia.”
The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport
“British Columbia is home to vibrant marine ecosystems that sustain wild pacific salmon and a diversity of aquatic life. Átl'ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound, and many other waterbodies in BC have been deeply impacted by human activity, jeopardizing the blue economy they enable for coastal communities. Through over $12 million in federal investments announced today, we are working in partnership with indigenous peoples and environmental organizations to bring back kelp forests, replant eelgrass, and restore riparian and marine ecosystems that provide immeasurable value to British Columbians.”
Patrick Weiler, Member of Parliament for West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country
“It’s our responsibility to take care of the land so that salmon can thrive. The Unwin Creek restoration project wakes-up an important fish habitat that has been sleeping for over 70 years and is an important step in fulfilling our promise to future generations of continued access to wild salmon. The project will benefit not only Tla’amin Nation, but all residents in the region who rely on salmon.”
Hegus John Hackett, Chief Tla’amin Nation
“BC Conservation Foundation is proud to partner with shíshálh and Tla'amin Nations and the Government of Canada on this innovative initiative to restore kelp forests in the Salish Sea. We look forward to working with Indigenous knowledge holders and western trained scientists to restore kelp that will provide habitat and food for salmon, rockfish, lingcod, herring, prawns, crab and the northern abalone. We hope this initiative will lead to similar kinds of projects that illustrate how working with natural assets can not only improve the environment, but create jobs, support communities and build modern, green economies.”
David Hendrickson, Executive Director British Columbia Conservation Foundation
Since 2016, the Government of Canada has dedicated $3.5 billion to the Oceans Protection Plan, making it the largest investment Canada has ever made to protect its coasts and waterways.
In December 2022, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $75 million over five years for the Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund, as part of the expanded Oceans Protection Plan, to support projects that conserve and restore priority coastal and upstream aquatic areas.
Building communities is important for sharing the best ways to protect and restore the environment. Community building was started under the Coastal Restoration Fund in 2017, and the Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund will continue to bring Indigenous groups, resource users, community organizations and other groups together to encourage local capacity to support aquatic habitat restoration, maintenance and revitalization.
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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