The Strait of Georgia, part of the Salish Sea, supports approximately 3,000 species of marine life, including all seven species of Pacific salmon. Further, the Strait of Georgia is fundamental to sustaining the diversity of Pacific salmon in southern B.C. Changes in the marine ecosystems of the Strait have been significant, including the loss of forage fishes, changes in marine plants, increases in seal populations, losses of some marine commercial fishes, and recently the introduction of several invasive species.
One of the most striking examples of reduced biodiversity in the Strait of Georgia is the loss of Chinook and Coho salmon abundance during the past 20 years. Recent catches in the Strait have been less than one-tenth of past levels, resulting in a ban on retention of wild Coho salmon and historically low catches of Chinook salmon. These losses have been well acknowledged, particularly in communities surrounding the Strait; yet understanding causes of the declines have remained a mystery.
The Pacific Salmon Foundation and its U.S. partner Long Live the Kings in Seattle, Washington has designed a program of ecosystem research and habitat restoration intended to increase the production of Chinook, Coho and Steelhead in the Salish Sea (Strait of Georgia, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound). The five-year project will provide help improve future fisheries management policy and restore the economic and cultural benefits to communities surrounding the Salish Sea.