The majority of British Columbians (over 3 million) live, work and play in and along the shores of Georgia Strait, parts of which are noted to be Canada’s most at-risk natural environment, but too few make the connection between their own decisions and actions and the health of the marine environment.
Through participation in events, media, activities, presentations, social media, our new online Communities Atlas, and collaboration with other organizations, GSA’s Ocean Literacy Program provides educational materials promoting an understanding that Georgia Strait is a regional ecosystem that supports a great diversity of life with which we are inextricably interconnected to thousands of people each year.
The program offers suggestions to help individuals and communities better understand the importance of the health of the Strait and make decisions and take actions to protect it, in turn protecting the economy and our way of life.
Energy and Shipping
Over the years, we’ve also been concerned about the growing shipping traffic in the region, in particular related to the transport of diluted bitumen from the tar sands. The current proposal by Kinder Morgan to expand its pipeline to export diluted bitumen and transport it through the Strait is deeply troubling. Investing billions of dollars to further increase international reliance on fossil fuels is a step backwards in what is needed – a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change, including a plan to transition away from fossil fuels use. We also need a strong, diversified economy in Canada that isn’t being built on the back of exporting raw resources and climate change.
In addition a major crude oil spill in this region would be devastating to our economic, social and environmental health, making the current proposal an urgent matter. It is imperative that communities be involved in decision making on these important issues, something that has not yet happened.
Drawing on our history of collaboration, our solutions-based approach, and our regional perspective, GSA is playing a coordinating role in support of the many groups campaigning on this issue. We are also increasing our efforts to engage the public in conversations about the risks that tar sands oil and coal export projects pose to the region, and the benefits of transitioning away from our reliance on fossil fuels, such as stable local jobs, connected communities, and clean air and water.
Clean Marine BC
With approximately 500,000 recreational boaters in BC, most of them on and around the Strait of Georgia, the potential negative impacts from pollution from recreational boaters and their support industry in ecologically sensitive areas is considerable. GSA’s Clean Marine BC rogram assists recreational boaters, marinas and other boating facilities to reduce their own impacts and to be engaged in other environmental issues affecting the health of the Strait. These issues are addressed through a voluntary eco-accreditation program for marinas, boat yards, and other facilities, and green boating education for individual boaters.
Species at Risk
There are over 113 marine species at risk in and around Georgia Strait, a number that has nearly doubled in the last three years. For over 20 years, GSA has been working toward the protection and recovery of species at risk, primarily through legal efforts to improve the implementation of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). This program also includes our work in support the transition to closed containment salmon farming, addressing the risks to wild salmon from open net-cage operations. Impacts of other forms of pollution and toxics on species at risk, including wastewater, are also of great concern. Our Communities Atlas and Species at Risk map support the community awareness goals of this program in addition to other educational materials.
Launching in 2013, our latest initiative is an innovative and collaborative project focused on the waterfront of the Lower Mainland, with the goal of eventually expanding it to the entire Strait of Georgia. The Waterfront Initiative will bring together an inclusive and diverse group of representatives from multiple sectors that have an interest in the waterfront and want to address the social, economic and ecological threats to the shoreline - and take action to ensure a healthy waterfront for all. Through the project, we will work to transform the waterfront into a clean, accessible, productive place that includes opportunities for recreation, tourism, transportation, education and industry.