Using education, advocacy and hands-on stewardship, Georgia Strait Alliance addresses issues impacting our marine environment through the following programs:
Georgia Strait Alliance is in the forefront of our region’s environmental organizations in addressing the impacts of pollution and toxic chemicals on wildlife and human health.
On the policy level, our sewage campaigns are addressing one of the most significant sources of pollution in the Strait – sewage from our urban centers. To date, we have won upgrade of two of Metro Vancouver’s major facilities to secondary treatment and a long-overdue commitment for Victoria to implement sewage treatment. We have provided timely information on cutting-edge resource recovery, urging that it be part of Victoria's plan -- saving dollars and putting the energy available from sewage to work in transportation, heating or other local needs.
In our hands-on ToxicSmart program we teach people how to improve their family's health and protect the marine environment, by identifying toxic products in their homes and gardens and switching to practical, non-toxic alternatives. In recent years we have worked with some of Metro Vancouver’s ethnic communities to provide ToxicSmart information and workshops.
With hundreds of thousands of recreational boaters in BC, the use and maintenance of boats can have a large impact on the marine environment, especially in sensitive local areas. Our Clean Marine BC program addresses these impacts through education, advocacy and hands-on work with boaters, clubs, marinas and boatyards around the region.
Tens of thousands of boaters have learned how to reduce harmful impacts through our Guide to Green Boating.
Clean Marine BC is our environmental recognition program for marinas and boatyards in BC that meet defined standards, modeled on a successful boating industry program in Ontario.
Through our Ocean Solutions project, we are working to establish a coastal network of pump-out stations, enabling boaters to have their sewage treated rather than discharged raw into marine waters.
To conserve the abundance and diversity of our region’s marine life, we need effective government regulation and active public stewardship. Our Marine Life & Habitat program includes addresses both of these needs.
On the policy level, we partner with organizations and agencies from both sides of the Canada-US border to work for the creation of marine protected areas – needed to protect marine life from over-fishing and other pressures. Among these will be Parks Canada’s new National Marine Conservation Area in the southern Strait of Georgia.
We also are working to win the strongest possible protection for marine species at risk in our transboundary region. For example, our intervention in a US legal case helped to ensure that the southern resident killer whales were listed as endangered under US law as well as in Canada – so that much-needed recovery strategies could get underway on both sides of the border.
On the grassroots level, our Stewards of the Strait project helps people to understand and adopt the greenest possible practices in their recreational activities on and around the Strait.
We also train and equip teams of Straitkeepers – citizen scientists who carry out ongoing intertidal studies. These volunteers return to the same beaches each summer, using a precise scientific methodology to record the species of plants and animals they find in the intertidal zone (the area exposed at low tide). This way, they collect reliable data to track changes in natural diversity over time, giving a unique, local scientific record that can be useful in shoreline or coastal planning issues.
We also organize beach clean-ups, in which volunteers identify and record all the debris they find. The data is forwarded to the International Coastal Cleanup, which uses data from around the world to create public education and public policy campaigns to reduce marine litter.
Since the early 1990s, Georgia Strait Alliance has worked to protect wild salmon from the impacts of netcage salmon farming. We are a founding member of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, a coalition of conservation and aboriginal groups working to reform the salmon farming industry.
We have taken a lead role in working with government officials to improve regulations and advance the industry’s use of safer technologies and practices. We were one of the first organizations to call for conversion to closed containment as a solution to environmental problems caused by the industry, and we worked to win government approval and funding for BC's first commercial scale land-based and in-water salmon closed containment farms. We continue to encourage best possible technology and practices to reduce the salmon farming industry’s impacts on the marine environment.
On the grassroots level, we work closely with local communities, fishermen, tourism operators and First Nations who depend on healthy wild salmon runs and the marine environment. We also provide information to consumers to help them make informed choices that can help encourage reform of the fish farming industry and protection of BC’s wild salmon stocks.