Through our involvement with the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform, we are working with Canada’s largest salmon farming company to compare the financial and environmental costs of open-net versus closed-containment technologies.

Photo: Marine and freshwater conservation

Our work helps conserve salmon populations on the Pacific coast. (Credit: Jeffery Young)

Canada is one of the most water-rich countries on the planet. The three oceans that surround us create the longest coastline in the world, and we have more lake area than any other nation. With so much around us, it isn't always obvious how critical water is to our well-being. But like air, water is essential to our survival as it moderates the climate, supports our economy, and sustains all life.

Preserving marine and freshwater ecosystems has been a major goal for the David Suzuki Foundation since it opened its doors. We work with governments, industry, and the public to help protect the oceans, encourage the production and purchase of sustainable seafood, and inspire Canadians to understand and take action for our marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Foundation advises salmon inquiry

Throughout their lives, salmon travel great distances from the open ocean to streams, lakes, rivers, and estuaries. If we have diverse and resilient salmon runs, it's a sign that we're starting to manage human activities with all these ecosystems in mind. Unfortunately, B.C. salmon face many problems, suggesting we have a lot more work to do.

This year, we worked to strengthen international efforts to conserve and rebuild salmon through the renegotiation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. In late 2009, the federal government announced a judicial inquiry into the decline of Fraser sockeye salmon. The inquiry follows many years of our work to raise awareness of wild salmon issues (such as fish farming, unsustainable fishing, and habitat loss), as well as the solutions.

We helped ensure the inquiry has a conservation focus and strong scientific support, and were invited to provide expert testimony on what can be done to rebuild Canada's Pacific salmon population. We also offered our expertise on salmon farming and wild salmon for the inquiry. Our research shows that sea lice, diseases, waste, and escapes are just a few of the many problems with open net salmon farming — reasons why we've long advocated for closed containment systems that keep farmed fish away from wild salmon.

Partnerships increase demand for sustainable seafood

Steve van der Leest

Steve van der Leest, the president of the Overwaitea Food Group, announces his commitment to sustainable seafood. (Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson)

The Foundation continues to work with SeaChoice to harness demand for sustainable seafood to promote reforms in fisheries and aquaculture. This year, we supported our partners at the Overwaitea Food Group in making some of the first closed containment farmed salmon available to customers in their stores. This sent a strong signal to salmon farmers that closed containment is a viable option, and has inspired investment in other closed containment projects. Additionally, we helped establish several new sustainable seafood partnerships with retailers such as Federated Co-operatives Limited and Bento, which became Canada's first sushi company to commit to a sustainable seafood policy.

Foundation helps plan for marine protected areas

A healthy ocean requires integrated planning. That means managing all the activities that impact the ocean as a group instead of in isolation, such as fishing, shipping, energy development, and tourism. The Foundation continued its efforts to promote a marine planning process on the North and Central coasts of B.C., a region called the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA). As a new member of the Integrated Oceans Advisory Committee, the Foundation provides guidance on the planning process and advises government agencies and First Nations. We are also a member of an advisory group that is helping establish a Marine Wildlife Area around the Scott Islands, which aims to protect areas where more than two million seabirds forage and nest.

Mines and landfills rejected in freshwater ecosystems

The Foundation works to make government regulations more effective at protecting freshwater ecosystems so that they can support people and the environment. We've helped prevent the development of mines and landfills in places that could destroy important water ecosystems, like at Fish Lake in B.C. and Site 41 in Simcoe, Ontario. Several mining companies had proposed to use lakes as tailings dumps, but one proposal has now been rejected, and others are being reconsidered. We also supported two major municipalities in B.C.'s Lower Mainland that established environmental protection bylaws to protect freshwater shoreline areas where fish, birds, and land species live.

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