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Vancouver philanthropist Rudy North donates $250,000 to Strait of Georgia salmon research

Vancouver – A large-scale effort to restore coho and Chinook salmon in the Strait of Georgia is a step closer to reality thanks to a donation from Vancouver philanthropist Rudy North, president and CEO of North Growth Management. North pledged $250,000 to the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, a research project to determine the causes of major declines in Chinook and coho salmon in the Strait of Georgia during the last 20 years. The five-year project will cost $10 million and North’s donation brings the total raised to $7.25 million.

North’s donation was announced at the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Vancouver fundraising gala on April 30 at the Vancouver Convention Centre in front of an audience of 700 people. North made the donation to challenge others who care about salmon and the environment to make a similar level of financial commitment. North will also help the Foundation spearhead a fundraising campaign to raise the remaining funds needed to launch full-scale research in 2015.

“There are thousands of marine life species right outside our back door in the Strait of Georgia, and Pacific salmon are among the most important because entire ecosystems depend on salmon for sustenance,” said North. “Those of us who live on the Strait of Georgia have seen dramatic changes during the last two decades, including loss of forage fish and marine plants like kelp and eel grass, and yet we still know too little about what’s causing these changes in the marine world. We need a comprehensive assessment that leverages all of our research capabilities to figure out what’s happening and to develop the strategies to ensure that we sustain the Strait of Georgia for future generations.”

Scientists believe changes in the Salish Sea, which includes the Strait of Georgia, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, have significantly affected the abundance of Pacific salmon. Recent catches of coho, Chinook and steelhead in the Salish Sea have been at historic lows of less than one-tenth of past peak levels. These losses have been well acknowledged in communities surrounding the Salish Sea, yet understanding the causes of the declines have remained a mystery. Paradoxically, other Pacific salmon species like sockeye have had huge variability in returns. During the past five years, Fraser River sockeye have returned at the lowest (2009) and highest (2010) levels in a century. Pink salmon, on the other hand, have consistently returned at historically high levels in the North Pacific in recent years.

“The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is an ambitious project that will look at the entire Salish Sea ecosystem to determine the most significant factors that affect the survival of juvenile salmon, particularly as they enter the saltwater phase of their lives,” said Dr. Brian Riddell, president and CEO, Pacific Salmon Foundation and scientific leader of the project. "The importance of the Salish Sea in determining salmon production has been overlooked for far too long and we welcome the leadership of Rudy North in making this financial commitment and know it will encourage others in the business and philanthropic communities to support this long-overdue environmental effort right in our own backyard.”

Riddell said theproject has developed with the support of a multidisciplinary group consisting of 20 federal state and provincial agencies, First Nations, academia and nonprofit organizations on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border The project will improve knowledge about the critical relationship between Pacific salmon and marine waters through the development of a comprehensive ecosystem-based research framework, coordinated data collection and standardization, and improved information sharing. The Pacific Salmon Foundation is partnering with Seattle-based Long Live the Kings to undertake the project, which includes research on similar issues in Puget Sound associated with steelhead trout, also a Pacific salmon species.

Riddell said North’s donation adds to support from several B.C. foundations, businesses, and non-governmental and governmental entities, including Canadian Fishing Company, Eagle Wing Tours, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Goldcorp, Pacific Salmon Endowment Fund Society, Port Metro Vancouver, Ritchie Family Foundation, Sitka Foundation and the University of British Columbia.

To learn more about the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, read the case statement.


Contact: Michael Meneer, Pacific Salmon Foundation, mmeneer@psf.ca, (778) 990-0464

About the Pacific Salmon Foundation:

The Pacific Salmon Foundation was created in 1987 as an independent, non-government, charitable organization to protect, conserve and rebuild Pacific Salmon populations in British Columbia and the Yukon. Since 1989, the Foundation has invested more than $41.3 million to support Pacific salmon conservation projects. Pacific Salmon 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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