Billy McMillan operates the Citizen Science route out of Steveston.


October 31, 2015

Supports Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Efforts to Restore Fisheries in the Strait of Georgia

VANCOUVER –   Steveston has become a key part of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Citizen Science Program because of the dedication of local resident Billy McMillan. He is one of the many volunteers taking part in the Foundation’s Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, which is working to understand the causes of declines in Coho and Chinook salmon in the Strait of Georgia.

“Salmon are important to me partly because they help me earn a living,” said McMillan. “But they also bring me a lot of happiness when I am able to get out and catch them myself or help someone else do the same thing. They are a huge part of our history on the coast and I am happy to help people see and understand that.”

The Citizen Science program is a partnership between the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Ocean Networks Canada.  The brainchild of Dr. Eddy Carmack – a retired scientist from the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada – it involves volunteers using a “mosquito fleet” of their own fishing vessels to do oceanographic surveys in nine overlapping areas - Campbell River, Baynes Sound, Qualicum, Cowichan Bay, Victoria, Lund, Powell River, Sechelt and Steveston. This approach makes it possible to be “everywhere at once” and make accurate, consistent data comparisons like never before. In one day, these citizen scientists collect data from more than 100 sites throughout the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca.  A single large research vessel could never complete this task and would be two to three times the costs per day.

Born and raised in Vancouver, McMillan spent a lot of his childhood on the Pacific Ocean. He became a guide at a lodge in Haida Gwaii in his early 20's and still operates charters out of Vancouver for Bonchovy Fishing Charters. The ocean is where he likes to spend his time, whether it be fishing or exploring.

“I think this project is a great way for the general public to help out and be involved,” added McMillan. “There are a lot of people on the west coast who have a great deal of knowledge about the ocean and it’s great that the Pacific Salmon Foundation is using them as a resource.” 

 Like the other citizen scientists, McMillan uses state of the art scientific equipment to gather important oceanographic data. That information is then transmitted using the “Community Fishers smart phone app” and uploaded to an oceanographic data management system at the University of Victoria, where it is made freely available to anyone. The results of all of this research could be key to the future of Pacific salmon.

“I became involved in this project because it is a good way to give back to something that has provided so much to me over the years,” concluded McMillan. “I can't imagine what I would be doing currently if it wasn't for salmon.”

Dr. Brian Riddell, president and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation, emphasized that it is because of people like MacMillan that the Citizen Science program will be successful.

“You only have to talk to Billy for five minutes to see how passionate he is about salmon and how important they are to his life and his work as a fishing guide,” said Riddell. “It is that kind of dedication that will help make the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project a success.”

The Foundation’s Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is supported by major contributions from the Government of Canada (in Budget 2015), the Pacific Salmon Commission, the Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund Society, the federal Salmon Conservation Stamp, and numerous individual, corporate and foundation contributors. Working with 14 other partners, the Foundation has been able to undertake a total of 38 projects so far in 2015.

Note:   Steveston and all Lower Mainland residents can support this program and other initiatives of the Pacific Salmon Foundation by attending the 2015 Vancouver Gala Dinner on May 6, 2016 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For more information, go to www.psf.ca/events.



Contact:               Michael Meneer, 604-664-7664 ext. 127, mmeneer@psf.ca 
                              Stephen Bruyneel, 604-842-1971 sbruyneel@psf.ca


About the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project

The Pacific Salmon Foundation and its U.S. partner, Long Live the Kings, in Seattle, Washington designed the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project for ecosystem research and habitat restoration intended to increase the production of Pacific salmon in the Salish Sea. The Pacific Salmon Foundation is leading the Canadian efforts in the Strait of Georgia. More information is available on the Project at http://marinesurvivalproject.com.


About the Pacific Salmon Foundation:

The Pacific Salmon Foundation was created in 1987 as an independent, non-governmental, charitable organization to protect, conserve and rebuild Pacific Salmon populations in British Columbia and the Yukon. The Foundation’s mission is to be the trusted voice for conservation and restoration of wild Pacific salmon and their ecosystems and works to bring salmon back stream by stream through the strategic use of resources and local communities. www.psf.ca

Media Contacts

For media inquiries contact:
Pacific Salmon Foundation 
Elayne Sun 
Manager, Communications and Marketing