With all of the challenges Pacific salmon face, marine debris in their estuary rearing habitats should not have to be one of them. Unfortunately, many nearshore areas that provide critical habitats for young salmon, forage fish and other prey items have been degraded by coastal development and recreational activities. Working with our partners, SeaChange Marine Conservation Society, Pacific Salmon Foundation has been supporting marine debris removal and eelgrass restoration and monitoring throughout the Strait of Georgia.
Through this partnership, items like ghost nets, abandoned boats, buckets, ropes, anchors and even toxic creosote pilings have been collected and disposed of properly. In the last year, over 37,000 kg of underwater marine debris have been removed from multiple regions of the Strait of Georgia. Large areas of degraded eelgrass habitat (707 m²) have been restored by transplanting 7,074 eelgrass shoots. Significant marine riparian habitats have also been restored.
Steps are being taken to ensure these rehabilitated areas remain healthy and debris free. The eelgrass restoration sites have been monitored and assessed. Thus far, the majority of sites have been assessed as successful based on eelgrass shoot densities and most beds have shown signs of growth and expansion. To prevent future damage, a number of ‘Anchor-out-of eelgrass’ signs, marker buoys along and mid-line float moorings have been installed to raise awareness and help boaters avoid incidentally damaging significant and sensitive habitats.
In carrying out these projects, SeaChange Marine Conservation Society has involved community volunteers and formed and maintained key partnerships. This maximized what could be achieved, provided learning opportunities and increased awareness, which will be so important to future conservation projects.