CEDAR COAST FIELD STATION INITIATIVES

Ocean Outfitters is super proud to be supporting local salmon research projects and the Coastal Connections Education program for Ahousaht through Cedar Coast Field Station. We have committed $42,700 in 2019 to research projects directly related to wild salmon health, and an Indigenous youth science program.

Juvenile Salmon and Sea Lice Monitoring

This program will monitor juvenile salmon in Clayoquot Sound to assess their health and sea lice loads as they migrate through the corridor to the ocean. Sea lice are known to significantly decrease the marine survival of juvenile salmon, as they do not have the immune system or size to withstand sea lice infestations. There is currently a massive outbreak of sea lice being reported in Clayoquot Sound. Salmon farms in the region are experiencing the highest levels of sea lice in British Columbia. Juvenile salmon that out-migrate from fresh water to the ocean in the spring are traversing past open net pen farms and are being exposed to high levels of sea lice.

Exploring the Relationship Between BC Salmon Stocks and Aquaculture

Sea lice from salmon farms have been implicated in wild-salmon declines the world over. In areas of the BC coast, river-specific salmon spawning counts and fisheries-catch data have been used to perform "stock-recruit analyses" that have linked salmon-population declines to sea-louse infestations on salmon farms. Associated elevated counts of sea lice on wild juvenile salmon have been tied to those same population declines. Attempted sea-louse management on farms has been associated with improved productivity for affected wild salmon populations, however, concern remains, in the face of warming oceans, about the possibility of treatment resistance in sea lice, and unknown responses of wild-salmon populations to farm-origin sea lice across large parts of the coast.

Cedar Coast will perform stock-recruit analyses for populations on the central coast of BC as well as north and west coast Vancouver Island, investigating the effect of farm-origin sea lice. Using long-term surveys of sea lice on wild juvenile salmon and using salmon-population data from exposed and unexposed stretches of coastline (as well as from before and after the introduction of salmon farms), they hope to assess farm-origin sea-louse impacts on wild-salmon productivity. We expect the infestation levels on wild juvenile salmon to be closely tied to the health of their spawning populations. This study will offer an unprecedented look at this relationship - and how associated impacts on wild-salmon populations have changed over time.

Wild Chinook Smolt Sampling

This program prepares Cedar Coast to be involved in a coast wide juvenile salmon, habitat use, genetics, and mixed stock fishery program that will be running in several locations throughout BC starting in the spring of 2020. Cedar Coast’s component of the program will be in purse seining salmon smolts to collect DNA and small tissue samples to analyze their disease signatures as they move from the estuary, past industrial activities or undeveloped habitats, and out to the ocean. This season, Cedar Coast will be developing and testing sampling protocols, and locations throughout Clayoquot Sound, and collaborating with NTC.

Salmon Genetics Program

Only a small number of the salmon runs from the rivers in this region have enough of the genetic information required by researchers and the federal government to manage salmon stocks to the local level. Without this information we cannot make informed management decisions about locally important salmon runs. Cedar coast will manage the collection of salmon fin clips from small and remote salmon runs throughout coastal BC, to build up the genetic database and provide the opportunity for more clear and local management of salmon and their environment. Through this work Cedar Coast are aiding in the development and democratizing of genetic tools that allow small local governments to employ the same management techniques previously only available to the department of fisheries. Cedar Coast will have diverse partners in this program, including Salmon Coast Field Station, Nimmo Bay, Blackfish Lodge, Kitasoo / Xai’xais, and the Reynolds Research Group.

What is Coastal Connections?

Coastal Connections connects Indigenous youth with capacity building opportunities in place-based research and monitoring initiatives in Clayoquot Sound.

This program will bring grade 11 science class students from Maaqtusiis Secondary School (MSS) to the Cedar Coast Field Station for a 2-night immersive science program in the Spring of 2019.

During their stay, MSS students will be included in Cedar Coast’s juvenile Salmon sea lice monitoring project, and in their plankton/intertidal biodiversity sampling. We love that Cedar Coast strives to make space to incorporate and appreciate traditional ecological knowledge, so the curriculum of this program is co-designed with Ahousaht elders and with the student’s class teacher.

Ocean Outfitters will cover the costs of planning sessions with Ahousaht Elders, food, transport, station fees, and program delivery fees for 22 students.