Volunteers ensure a future for wild salmon

Pacific Salmon Foundation

The Sunshine Coast’s 175 kilometres of protected coastline make it a paradise for fishermen and the salmon they come to find. The inlets and bays enable underwater plants like eelgrass and marine species to flourish protected from the intense waves of the open sea. Eelgrass provides shelter for young salmon from predators like shoreline birds and seals, and supports small marine creatures that salmon eat. 

“Salmon are a keystone species here. But they need our help to survive and our creeks need to be protected,” said Shirley Samples, a volunteer with the Sunshine Coast Streamkeepers Society. “Our goal is to have each creek on the Sunshine Coast with its own group of advocates.” 

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More than 130 different plants and animals in B.C. depend on Pacific salmon for survival. Fortunately, the Sunshine Coast has a network of volunteer stewards supported by the Pacific Salmon Foundation and local donors. Grants to volunteer non-profit groups have exceeded $175,000 since 1989. Matching donations from local businesses and individuals bring that investment up to over $1 million. 

Volunteers are also restoring eelgrass habitat on the Sunshine Coast in partnership with Seachange Marine Conservation Society. Only about four per cent of B.C.’s coast is suitable for eelgrass, making it vital to protect existing meadows. But, just as estuaries are meccas for salmon, they are also hotspots for human activity and resulting garbage that damages eelgrass plants. 

Dianne Sanford is the Sunshine Coast coordinator for cleanup efforts that began last year in Porpoise Bay. “We removed 11,530 pounds of marine debris over the course of 15 dive days including everything from netting, traps, outboard motors, old computers and more,” she said. Over the next few years, Porpoise Bay and other eelgrass-rich habitats will be restored. 

The Foundation and local conservation groups rely on donations of time, money or both. Made now or in the future, such as a gift in a will, all donations help ensure that wild salmon thrive.

On Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Foundation is sponsoring a free estate planning roundtable, presented by Spencer Keys of Charthouse Lawyers. The program will run from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Seaside Centre in Sechelt. Attendees can RSVP the Foundation’s Margaret Buttner at: 604-664-7664 or mbuttner@psf.ca to secure a seat. 

Local groups including the Sunshine Coast Streamkeepers Society will also be on hand to share information, local events and volunteer opportunities.

– Submitted by the Pacific Salmon Foundation

 

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