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Protecting coastal aquatic ecosystems in British Columbia through important restoration work

Press Release

From: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

July 9, 2024

Vancouver, BC – Canada’s oceans and waterways are home to diverse ecosystems that play a key role in the health of Canadians and the environment. Climate change, pollution, and shipping activities can impact marine life. Through Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada is increasing protections and further preserving these important marine ecosystems.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, announced close to $9.3 million in funding for four projects in British Columbia under the Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund (AERF). This fund supports projects to conserve and restore our aquatic ecosystems by addressing impacts in these environments.

Projects receiving funding as part of today’s announcement include:

  • $852,000 over four years for the Ditidaht First Nation to restore Doobah Creek watershed on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Community initiatives and an informed, natural-based restoration approach will address lost and degraded critical salmon spawning and rearing habitats.
  • $1,818,901 over four years for the SeaChange Marine Conservation Society and partners to implement the Resilient Estuaries of the Salish Sea project though restoration, conservation, monitoring and educational activities that address the pressures and threats to important salmon.
  • $2,924,899 over four years for the Secretariat of the Haida Nation to continue monitoring, adaptive management and restoration of historic marine-based log handling facilities in ecologically sensitive estuaries on Haida Gwaii.
  • $3,683,027 over four years for The Kelp Rescue Initiative (based at the Western Canadian Universities Marine Sciences Society’s Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre) and the University of Victoria to develop and apply methods for culturing and out-planting giant and bull kelp in southern British Columbia, in partnership with local First Nations.

As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, AERF supports projects that contribute to restoration priorities in coastal and upstream areas that have a direct impact on coastal aquatic ecosystems; contribute to the development and implementation of 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 AERF help to address the root causes of impacts on those environments, and help 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 is keeping our oceans and coasts healthy, advancing reconciliation, and building a clean future for our children and grandchildren.

Quotes

“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 aquatic 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 Ecosystems Restoration Fund will help us continue to protect and restore aquatic environments across British Columbia.”

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport

“The Ditidaht First Nation holds the wealth of its Nation and the use of their lands, waters, and resources in the future as they did in the past, to the common good and benefit of all Ditidaht, by fostering development that is based on the principle of caring for and maintaining their physical and spiritual linkages with their lands, waters, and resources for all generations. The Doobah Creek process-based restoration project will support these values through the healing of our land from the mountaintops to the valley bottoms, the restoration of important aquatic habitats, the reestablishment of culturally important species such as wild salmon, and the continued healing of the Ditidaht People.”

Paul Sieber, Director of Natural resources, Ditidaht First Nation

“This project is foundational and crucial. We’re restoring the eelgrass beds that once thrived before they became log dumps, and that’s essential to reestablishing the basis of life in these areas,” said Gaagwiis, President of the Haida Nation. “For years, these areas were buried under logging debris, suffocating the intertidal zones. But with restoration efforts, light is returning, and new eelgrass growth is bringing back life. This project is extremely important.”

Gaagwiis, Jason Alsop, President of the Haida Nation

“Kelp forests are vitally important ecosystems on B.C.’s coastline. This new funding will help advance the critical science that is needed to understand how best to restore kelp forests, and to begin this important work. We’re exciting to be building partnerships with, and developing this work, with local First Nations around Vancouver Island.”

Julia Baum, Co-Lead on the Kelp Rescue Initiative and Professor at the University of Victoria

“Estuaries serve as lifelines for coastal ecosystems. Supporting restoration work is more important than ever to safeguard critical habitats to be resilient to climate change. The support from AERF has allowed SeaChange to optimize efforts, grow our team of professionals, and create sustainable, long-term projects to enact positive change”

Susan Anthony, PhD Biological Researcher/Project Manager, Resilient Estuaries of the Salish Sea project with SeaChange Marine Conservation Society

Quick facts

  • 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.
  • The Government of Canada made significant investments in the Restoration Community under the Coastal Restoration Fund in 2017, and the Aquatic Ecosystems Restoration Fund continues to bring Indigenous groups, resource users, community organizations and other groups together to encourage local capacity to support aquatic habitat restoration, maintenance and revitalization.

Associated links

Contacts
Gabriel Bourget
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Gabriel.Bourget@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613-990-7537
Media.xncr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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