History & Achievements
Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA) was formed in 1990 in response to pollution and damage to marine habitat in our region.
Watch this 9 minutes video for details of our first 20 years.
GSA's first major activity was a marathon swim across the 29-km-wide Strait - an event we repeated annually until 1995. Hundreds of people swam, paddled, rowed, wind-surfed or otherwise crossed the Strait under "human power", to raise funds and public awareness of the environmental problems facing the region.
Over the years we have worked on a number of fronts to increase public understanding and win public policy changes on issues like pulp and sewage pollution, oil spill risks, loss of critical estuary habitat and salmon streams, salmon farming impacts and the need for protection of marine habitat. Our work has included:
- State of the Strait conference (1991), Sound & Straits Community Action conference (1994), plus many smaller conferences, workshops and speaking presentations
- Save the Strait Marathon (1990 through 1995)
- public education
- intertidal quadrat studies and beach clean-ups
- advocacy campaigns
- stewardship activities
- publications and video productions
- legal actions
As a result of our work, since the mid-90s there have been a number of significant government and media initiatives focusing on the Strait of Georgia, including the BC/Washington Marine Science Panel, Georgia Basin Initiative, Fate of the Strait series (Vancouver Sun) and Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative (now the Georgia Basin Action Plan). Despite this, serious problems persist and so Georgia Strait Alliance's work is more important than ever.
Some of our achievements:
2013: Won a moratorium by the Province on new or expanded salmon farm tenures in the Discovery Islands of northern Georgia Strait.
2012: Helped win a Federal Court of Appeal ruling against DFO, denying nearly every aspect of their appeal of parts of the court's 2010 ruling - which confirms they are legally bound to protect killer whale habitat; helped to convince the Cohen Commission Inquiry into the Decline of the Fraser River Sockeye of the danger of open net pen salmon farms to wild sockeye and to recommend action on part of Federal government including restriction of farm expansion in the northern Georgia Strait, leading to removal of farms, as well as removal of DFO current mandate to support aquaculture industry.
2011: Helped pressure the provincial and federal government to come to an agreement regarding seabed rights, and take the next step to establishing a National Marine Conservation Area in the Southern Strait of Georgia; saw inclusion of broad definitions of critical habitat in new Recovery Strategy for Resident Killer Whales, which now include prey availability, pollution and noise/distrubance as key threats to address; launched online Atlas of Communities, an online portal to identify threats to region and offer solutions to communities to address them.
2010: helped win a Federal Court ruling against DFO for failing to protect B.C. resident killer whale critical habitat; helped to obtain a commitment from Marine Harvest Canada to develop a commercial scale closed containment salmon farming project.
2009: won commitment from Victoria region to treat its sewage by 2016, including using technology to recover resources; helped win federal government order that provides protection for the critical habitat of the southern resident killer whale; helped win Federal Court ruling against DFO for failing to identify the habitat of the Nooksack dace, an endangered fish restricted to only four streams in B.C.'s Lower Mainland.
2008: Recognized BC's first eco-rated marina (Westport Marina); received two prestigious awards for our Green Boating program: Canadian Safe Boating Awards' “Safeguarding the Environment” Award, and the National Environment Award at Toronto's Yachtman’s Spring Thaw Luncheon. Helped win resolutions by Union of BC Municipalities Convention that call for a ban on LNG tankers in the Strait, ensuring new natural gas-fired electricity power plants meet zero greenhouse gas emissions standards and that BC provide financial and legislative support to bring integrated resource management (recycling of resources from sewage and organic waste) to communities across the province.
2006 - 2007: helped win government approval for Middle Bay closed containment salmon farm; provided approximately 30,000 absorbent bilge pads to boaters, helping them to prevent pollution from bilge discharges and fuel leaks; stopped a project that proposed the use harmful seismic blasting in the waters of northern BC; won the release of the long overdue southern and northern resident killer whale recovery strategy; established Clean Marine BC marine recognition program, the only such program in the province.
2006: won a directive from the Province, along with a federal and provincial funding commitment, for Victoria to treat its sewage; made four presentations to BC's Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture, helping to win a recommendation by the Committtee for transition to closed containment for salmon farms.
2005: helped win a Supreme Court ruling upholding Canada’s polluter-pay principle, closing a legal loophole that would have allowed BC Hydro to escape liability for clean-up of one of BC’s most severely contaminated sites; helped the Xwemalhkwu (Homalco) First Nation win a Supreme Court ruling that government and industry must consult with them before siting fish farms in their territory.
2004: defeated the GSX natural gas pipeline proposal which would have bisected southern Georgia Strait and the National Marine Conservation Area.
2003: intervened in a successful US court case to win listing of the southern resident orca under the US Endangered Species Act.; helped win a commitment by the Prime Minister to create the Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area.
2002: helped win passage of National Marine Conservation Act and federal commitment to create the Southern Strait of Georgia National Marine Conservation Area.
2001: won the prestigious Canadian Safe Boating Awards’ “Best Environmental Campaign” for our Green Boating program; helped win approval for BC's first land-based salmon farm.
2000: stopped a government plan to allow spreading of contaminated pulp sludge on public lands; launched second decade of action to protect the Strait
1999: won commitment from Province to initiate closed containment salmon aquaculture pilot projects and place a two-year cap on new netcage fish farm licences.
1998 - present (ongoing): helped hundreds of households reduce their use of toxic household chemicals
1996 - 1997: provided training and capacity-building to 100+ salmon stream protection/restoration groups on Vancouver Island and helped win BC Fish Protection Act; served on BC's Salmon Aquaculture Review.
1995 - 1997: won an upgrade of two Vancouver sewage treatment plants to secondary treatment.
1995: won provincial moratorium on new salmon farms and government commitment to an environmental review of the industry.