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Anglers Become Researchers

By Pacific Salmon Foundation, 🕔Mon, Dec 14th, 2015


Billy McMillan is a fishing guide with BonChovy Charters based in Vancouver. McMillan operates the Steveston route. BonChovy is a long-time supporter of the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

This year-end the Pacific Salmon Foundation is asking donors to support the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project by making a tax-recieptable donation through the website. Every $100 donation will recieve one entry to win a hand-carved Kwagiulth Artist Proof reel donated by Peetz Outdoors and valued at upwards of $5,000 through live auction. Click here to see the reel designed by master carver Jason Henry Hunt. 

The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is a US/Canada initiative to restore wild Coho, Chinook and Steelhead populations in the Salish Sea. The Pacific Salmon Foundation is leading efforts targeted at the Canadian waters of the Salish Sea - the Strait of Georgia. On the Canadian-side alone, 33 projects were initiated last year engaging 30 different partners. Some of these include anglers. Thanks to some clever equipment innovations, these anglers have become part of a unique research fleet. 

One of the serious challenges in studying marine waters is how to determine what is happening in different places at the same time – in other words being 'everywhere at once.' Typically, government oceanographic vessels conduct annual surveys in a small number of places a few times a year, and these surveys are always limited by cost.

Everywhere at Once

Qualicum route citizen scientistsMarried couple Ryan and Nicole Fredrickson operate the citizen science route out of Qualicum. Despite an ATV accident that left him wheelchair-bound, Ryan remains an active angler and outdoorsman. The couple became involved when wife Nicole heard about the project from her fisheries professor at Vancouver Island University.

Enter Dr. Eddy Carmack,  a retired scientist from the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sidney, B.C. He came up with the idea ofequipping small private boats that would follow specified sampling schedules and locations to capture the dynamics of the Strait of Georgia. This "citizen science" fleet became our answer to how to essentially be "everywhere at once."

Here's how it works. People with boats from local communities are contracted and then outfitted with the equipment necessary to conduct surveys. The information is transmitted automatically to Ocean Network Canada's database via an app created by Ocean Networks Canada in Victoria. This automated system ensures quality-control while subsequently archiving data for analysis.

In 2015, nine boats in nine overlapping areas of the Strait of Georgia were contracted and equipped. Boats collected oceanographic data in Campbell River, Baynes Sound, Qualicum, Cowichan Bay, Victoria, Lund, Powell River, Sechelt and Steveston. Boats sampled in eight to ten locations per trip and conducted 18 - 20 trips between February and October, 2015. This compilation of data is the most comprehensive ever collected in the Strait.

The Citizen Science project will be complemented by other sampling programs from oceanographic buoys (two fixed locations), data captured from BC Ferries (southern Strait of Georgia only), and satellite data. The goal is to integrate all of these data sets and provide 3-D models of the entire Strait so that we can visualize this wealth of information.

Three easy ways to donate:

  1. Donate online today through the website
  2. Shop our online store with all proceeds supporting wild salmon projects
  3. Mail a cheque to:

        Pacific Salmon Foundation
        300 - 1682 West 7th Avenue
        Vancouver, BC  V6J 4S6

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