In 1859 a loose pig on San Juan Island, just off the south coast of British Columbia, was shot by a hungry British soldier based in a fort at the north end of the island. The angry American farmer who owned the pig complained to the commander of the American fort, which was on the south end of that same island. Tempers flared, angry words were exchanged and there was even talk of war!
Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and since then Canada and the U.S. have made efforts to collaborate as stewards of the incredible, beautiful West Coast that we share.
Currently, there is a new crisis taking place in our waters that is causing both nations to work as a side-by-side team in a manner rarely seen before, and PEETZ Outdoors is proud to be a contributor to the initiative, entitled The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project.
The Salish Sea encompasses the Strait of Georgia, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound — waters that are shared between Washington State and British Columbia. There have been major changes in the biodiversity of the Salish Sea marine environment in recent years, including a startling decline of salmon and steelhead. The change has been particularly dramatic in the Strait of Georgia where the number of chinook and coho salmon in the strait has dropped to less than 1/10 of previous levels. Through The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project, Canada and the United States are collaborating to determine what is affecting these species’ survival. The project is the largest scale research of its kind and is being coordinated by the Pacific Salmon Foundation based out of Vancouver, BC and its U.S. partner Long Live the Kings out of Seattle, Washington.
While there have been many other studies conducted over the years, The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is different because it will simultaneously look at all factors which are interdependent: the dynamic physical environment, the bottom-up review of the ocean biology through the food chain, the top-down review of threats to juvenile salmon, such as predators, food source competitors and disease. Previous studies of what is affecting the salmon populations have largely proven unsuccessful because they’ve focused on a single factor.
The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project involves numerous experts from across a diversity of disciplines represented by over 40 organizations: universities, First Nations groups, non-profit groups, private organizations, as well as local, state, federal and international organizations. It is a massive undertaking. “We have an incredible array of expertise in the Salish Sea – we have the people, we have the capacity and the labs, we have the vessels, we’ve never made the effort to put it together and we’ve never had the leadership or the funds, now we do,”1 says Brian Riddell, President of the Pacific Salmon Foundation in the YouTube video featured below.
A project of this magnitude involving complex planning and complicated research details requires much funding. The combined budget is $20 million, $10 million for the Canadian work and $10 million for the American work. On the Canadian front, funding is well on its way with 80% of the total $10 million already pledged and raised.
But there is still another 20% needed, and the Pacific Salmon Foundation is seeking assistance from philanthropic, corporate and foundation donations.
PEETZ has been a supporter of PSF for many years, typically donating product for their various fundraising efforts throughout each year. But in 2015, we felt it was time to step up and do more wherever we can. One initiative we’ve implemented this year is our “Reel Change” PSF partnership, whereby we are donating $10 from every fishing reel sold through our website at www.peetzoutdoors.com and we are challenging our passionate PEETZ fan base to match our donation at the time of their purchase. We are also currently working directly with PSF on further initiatives to support its programs. And we have made a greater effort this season to donate reels and gear packages to derbies throughout the Pacific Northwest that are raising funds for PSF and other important salmon conservation programs.
Restoring chinook and coho populations will have tremendous economic benefits for First Nations’ fisheries, commercial and recreational fishing, as well as all supporting industries. It will also positively impact the many coastal communities that rely on eco-tourism. Salmon is a pivotal species in our West Coast environment – its health in turn affects the health of other dependent wildlife populations like orcas, bears and eagles. Discovering what threats exist for salmon may also provide invaluable information about what determines a healthy ecosystem for us as people!
The Salish Sea Marine Survival Project is not just another research project in our eyes; it is an invitation for us to come together as individuals, companies, foundations and even nations to actively serve as the collective caretakers of our West Coast environment. As Van Egan, avid fisherman and naturalist stated, “Serious anglers, if not just meat fishermen, know there is more to their sport than just catching fish. Real anglers live in harmony with the environment.
At PEETZ, we couldn’t agree more.
If you would like to make a donation of $10 to the Pacific Salmon Foundation right now, you can do it from the convenience of your phone! Simply text the word SALMON to 45678.
We would also like to put out a corporate challenge to all of our peers in the Pacific Northwest that rely on our precious wild fish resources. Evaluate your business processes. Seek out more ways to direct attention, funds and/or support towards the incredible network of scientists, researchers and on-the-ground volunteers focused on wild fish conservation. And if your company has a conservation initiative that could benefit from a collaboration with us here at PEETZ, let’s talk.
For more information visit www.psf.ca
Robert Van Pelt
PEETZ Outdoors – 1439540 B.C. Ltd.