A detail of the cover of State of the Salish Sea, a comprehensive report by the Western Washington University-based Salish Sea Institute on the state of the Salish Sea ecosystem. The photo is a detail of Squamish Sunset by Yuri Choufour

A detail of the cover of State of the Salish Sea, a comprehensive report by the Western Washington University-based Salish Sea Institute on the state of the Salish Sea ecosystem. The photo is a detail of Squamish Sunset by Yuri Choufour

Climate change, urbanization and population growth threaten the Salish Sea: report

Call for complex, multi-faceted approach to respond to current and emerging pressure on bioregion

The Salish Sea is in sore need of a holistic, multi-jurisdictional and multi-disciplinary response to current and emerging environmental threats, according to a new report by the Salish Sea Institute.

“The Salish Sea is compromised by the cumulative impacts of global climate change, regional urbanization and a growing population and intensive human use and abuse across the ecosystem over the last two centuries,” says the authors of “State of the Salish Sea” published by Western Washington University’s Salish Sea Institute in Bellingham, Wa.

The Salish Sea stretches from the Pacific Ocean along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound and is fed by a network of rivers and contributing watersheds reaching up thousands of metres to prominent peaks in the Coast, Cascade, Olympic and Vancouver Island ranges. The term Salish Sea has risen to more prominent use in recent years and is officially recognized by geographic naming boards in Washington State and British Columbia as well as the U.S. and Canadian federal governments.

The Campbell River area marks the northwestern edge of the Salish Sea bioregion.

“It is a biologically-diverse inland international sea that is surrounded by mountainous watersheds of spectacular beauty,” the report says.

Indigenous peoples have lived along the shores of the sea since time immemorial and today the region is home to almost nine million people and growing.

In the report, more than 20 authors and contributors illustrate how the ecosystem is under relentless pressure from an accelerating convergence of global and local environmental stressors and the cumulative impacts of 150 years of development and alteration of our watersheds and seascape.

“Our expanding human footprint brings with it urbanization and ensuing impacts on the seascape as ports become busier, underwater habitats become noisier, natural shorelines give way to hardened infrastructure and watersheds are converted from native forests to housing developments, industrial parks and other impervious surfaces,” the report’s executive summary says. “At the same time, global climate change is producing profound impacts on the Salish Sea as sea level rise threatens low lying areas and as ocean acidification and other changes threaten the intricacies of marine life.”

RELATED: Quiet Salish Sea gives scientists chance to study endangered killer whales

Over time, government agencies and others around the Salish Sea have implemented numerous management programs, policies and regulations to protect the ecosystem, the report says. But ecosystem decline has outpaced restoration and protection.

Managing the state of the sea is complicated by layers of laws, treaties, regulations and jurisdictions but the cost of continuing as business as usual is high – “staggering” – the report says.

“It is unlikely that we will fully reverse the legacies or urbanization and industrial impacts to the Salish Sea but it is possible to improve conditions from what they are today,” the report says.

It will take multi-faceted and collaborative approaches to regenerate the Salish Sea that will require sufficient political will, public support and systemic changes.

It’s a big task, the report indicates.

“Fundamental alteration of human-environment relationships, coupled with new and ambitious goals, are needed to change the arc of anthropogenic impacts,” the report says.

RELATED: Denman Island author explores the past and future of the Salish Sea


@AlstrT
editor@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Campbell RiverClimate changeEnvironment

 

The Salish Sea bioregion of British Columbia and Washington. Map from State of the Salish Sea report.

The Salish Sea bioregion of British Columbia and Washington. Map from State of the Salish Sea report.

Just Posted

Langley Lake supplies the drinking water for Union Bay. File photo by Bob Ell
Comox Valley board wants to halt Union Bay-area logging plans

Regional district inviting forest company to work on watershed plan

Corwin Fox performs on the grounds of the Courtenay and District Fish & Game Club for a 2021 Vancouver Island MusicFest segment, with the iconic Comox Glacier in the background. The 2021 festival will feature numerous outdoor segments, highlighting the beauty of the Comox Valley. Photo via Island MusicFest
2021 Vancouver Island MusicFest format will showcase the beauty of the Comox Valley

The 2021 Vancouver Island MusicFest -The Virtual Edition - will be like… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Comox town hall. Black Press file photo
Comox takes step closer to finalizing Northeast Comox Storm Water Management Plan

“(This has been a) tremendous work in progress for many years”

John Marinus’s daughter, Margaret McCormack, and his wife Denise were out Saturday afternoon to help the Rotary Club of Comox move some tickets for the upcoming Ducky 500, known this year as the John Marinus Memorial Ducky 500. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Rotary Club of Comox Ducky Run tickets still available

Event has been rechristened as the John Marinus Memorial Ducky 500

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read