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Busy year for Salish Sea Marine Survival Project
Tuesday, 09 February 2016

The Pacific Salmon Foundation's year-end appeal helped raise almost $165,000 for the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project with the help of a matching fund created by major donors Rudy North and Art Ayleworth of Peetz Outdoors fishing and tackle company.

The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is an ambitious five-year initiative to understand what is killing salmon in the Strait of Georgia - the Canadian waters of the Salish Sea. The Pacific Salmon Foundation is leading efforts in partnership with government, First Nations, community groups, academia and other NGO's. Our second year of research in 2015 was a busy one. In summary: 

  • 33 sub-projects with 30 different partners were initiated in the Strait of Georgia  (marinesurvivalproject.com)
  • Several new approaches and technologies were deployed to collect data at a level of detail never seen before.
  • In-kind contributions including researchers, lab space, vessels and specialized equipment resulted in $4 of leverage for every $1 granted by the Foundation and its donors!

An Ecosystem Perspective

The Project was started as a result of three major observations:

  • Significant declines of Chinook, Coho and Steelhead relative to other regions in the Pacific Northwest;
  • Major changes in the Salish Sea marine ecosystem during the same time period, like the loss of kelp and eelgrass; and
  • Growing scientific consensus that overall marine survival of Pacific salmon is largely dependent upon the growth and mortality of juvenile salmon during their early marine life (2 - 3 months.)

The Project is using a different approach that takes into account the ecosystem as a whole. Because the interaction between salmon and the Strait of Georgia environment is so complex, the Project utilizes experts from multiple disciplines. As a result, the Project is unprecedented in its scale and scope. As a whole, the Project is a US - Canadian initiative jointly led by Seattle-based non-profit Long Live the Kings and Vancouver non-profit the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Altogether the Project involves more than 150 scientists and partner organizations.  

The Salish Sea supports approximately 3,000 species of marine life, including all seven species of Pacific salmon. Of these salmon, Chinook, Coho, and Steelhead have declined by 90% during the marine phase of their lifecycle

This year promises to be another busy year as key subprojects like our Strategic Salmon Health Initiative move into the analyses phase. For the Strategic Salmon Health Initiative it will mean shedding some light on which microbes are associated with disease for salmon. 

Visit the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project website to read about the many subprojects happening in 2016. To become a part of this initiative, donate online by clicking the orange 'donate' button.