FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 31, 2015
John SInclair (L) and Ed Oldfield (R) operate the Lund and Powell River Citizen Science routes respectively.
Supports Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Efforts to Restore Fisheries in the Strait of Georgia
VANCOUVER – The Sunshine Coast has become a key part of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Citizen Science Program because of the dedication of local residents Ed Oldfield and John Sinclair. They are just two 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.
“Over the years I have witnessed the decline of salmon stocks in the Strait of Georgia to the point where I no longer fish salmon on the inside,” said Oldfield, who operates out of Powell River. “It baffles me that 20 years after the sudden and unexpected disappearance of Coho Salmon in the early 1990's and a steady decline in the numbers of Chinook Salmon, there appears to be little scientific explanation. The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is a monumental and imaginative attempt to put some science behind the speculations of the past 20 years.”
Similar thoughts were echoed by his colleague John Sinclair, who is involved in the Project out of Lund.
“I am interested in the decline of fishing and the causes,” added Sinclair. “Being part of the process to learn about the fishery in the Salish Sea will help with 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.
A recently retired school teacher, who now works full time as an artist specializing in wall murals with a west coast marine theme, Oldfield’s hobbies include fishing, gardening, and stone work. The Strait of Georgia captured his imagination when he first saw it after his family moved from Ontario to Duncan in 1967. Oldfield lives and works on the shores of the Strait of Georgia in Powell River.
“Technology has reached a point where pleasure boats can be equipped with compact, scientific gear capable of collecting a vast array of data over the entire Salish Sea in a single day,” said Oldfield. “This should provide a baseline of data and some science behind the management and preservation of this complex ecosystem.”
Sinclair also has a long history on the west coast, having lived and worked around and on the Georgia Strait all his life. But it was Ed Oldfield who got him specifically involved in the Project.
“Ed asked me if I would consider going out with him on the Powell River route,” said Sinclair. “And things grew into Ed coming with me on the Lund route as well, so we are each helping the other.”
Like the other citizen scientists, Oldfield and Sinclair use 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.
“We both became involved in this project because it is about time we became serious about the health of our marine environment,” said Oldfield. “This project is an important step in understanding what is happening in the Salish Sea and with a better understanding we will be more likely to make good decisions related to the management, protection, and restoration of our marine environment.”
Dr. Brian Riddell, president and CEO of the Pacific Salmon Foundation, emphasized that it is because of people like Oldfield and Sinclair that the Citizen Science program will be successful.
“Ed and John are passionate about salmon and the environment, and sees how critically important both are to the future of the Salish Sea,” said Riddell. “It is their level of interest and commitment 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.
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
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