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Transplant project set for Halfmoon Bay

Eelgrass plays a vital ecological role for birds, fish, humans and the health of the near shore.

Eelgrass plays a vital ecological role for birds, fish, humans and the health of the near shore. Eelgrass provides spawning sites and shelter for juvenile herring and other forage fish species, which, in turn, are a major food source for a wide range of birds such as shearwaters, gulls, murres, murrelets, auklets, loons, cormorants and grebes.

In the past, muddy shorelines such as eelgrass beds and mudflats were dismissed as wastelands. Today, they are known to be the most productive near shore environments along the Coast, as productive as terrestrial cropland. Eelgrass is classified as sensitive habitat under the Fisheries Act.

A small transplant project will be taking place in an old log dump site in Halfmoon Bay just north of Coopers Green on Aug. 13 and 14.

"We will be planting 800 or so shoots of eelgrass and monitoring the progress of the plants over the next few years," said workshop co-ordinator Dianne Sanford. "Dump sites are classic in their reputation for leaving behind an ocean substrate devoid of any life due to the layer of log bark and duff that falls off the logs. There have been successful projects in replanting eelgrass in such areas, and thus our project evolved."

The B.C. Coastal Eelgrass Project, sponsored by the Pacific Salmon Commission, is a plan to locate, map and quantify eelgrass beds and educate the public on their importance. The goal is promote local stewardship within coastal communities to carry on conservation efforts into future years, and mapping has been going on for the past 10 years on the coast of B.C.

For more information on the project or to volunteer to assist, contact Sanford at 604-885-6283, or email moonstone@dccnet.com.

-Submitted