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Strait of Georgia Data Centre an Integral First Step

By Pacific Salmon Foundation, 🕔Wed, Jan 28th, 2015


(Above: Dr. Isobel Pearsall, project lead for the Strait of Georgia Data Centre)

Data Critical for Salmon Conservation

During the several years I've spent communicating about salmon for the Pacific Salmon Foundation, I've learned that the words "Data Centre" can be very polarizing. These reactions can range from excitement (usually fisheries scientists) to glazed-over eyes and gentle snores. Let's face it, Data Centres aren't very sexy, but nevertheless they can be critically important to effective conservation and management of salmon. That's why building a Data Centre for the Strait of Georgia was one of the Pacific Salmon Foundation's first steps for the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project.

Strait of Georgia Salmon Recovery a Focal Point

Pacific salmon swimming

The Strait of Georgia is a focal point of the five-year $20 million Salish Sea Marine Survival Project to restore wild Coho, Chinook and Steelhead in the Salish Sea. The Strait supports an estimated 3000 species (including all seven varieties of Pacific salmon and humans) across 240km of rich, diverse marine habitats. But, recent changes in the marine ecosystems of the Strait have been significant. One salient example is the exponential drop in Coho and Chinook populations during the past two decades. Recent catches are at one-tenth of past peak levels. These losses have had significant impacts on communities surrounding the Strait; yet the causes of the declines remain unresolved.

Strait of Georgia Data Centre now available to public

Imagine trying to figure out the issues surrounding this complex ecosystem when most of the information is fragmented, stored in different places, sometimes on obsolete media, and in some cases, in the heads of retired researchers. The Strait of Georgia Data Centre is the first truly comprehensive repository for old and new research on the Strait of Georgia and it is available online to anyone at

10,000 Unique Pieces of Literature

Led by Dr. Isobel Pearsall, project coordinator for the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, the Data Centre includes some 10,000 unique pieces of literature that help give scientists, the government and anyone else who might be able to make use of it for an accurate portrait of the Strait of Georgia. It provides a one-stop shop for marine ecosystem data that is free and open access. The Data Centre's holdings encompass everything from published scientific reports to samples of historic photographs and oral histories, all gleaned from sources as diverse as municipal, provincial federal, international and First Nations. As the debut initiative in the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, it was established by the Pacific Salmon Foundation back in 2012 at the University of British Columbia. Sitka Foundation provided major funding to make the project a reality.

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