New Saanich Inlet Hope Spot

By Alisa Preston

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Image by Ron DeVries

Rockfish Divers is pleased to share that Mission Blue and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced their approval in March 2017 of an official New Hope Spot: Saanich Inlet and the Southern Gulf Islands. Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean. Rockfish Divers submitted the original application in early 2015 based on our Rockfish Divers Marine Science Foundation that includes baseline monitoring for various marine creatures and plants throughout the area in order to track changes taking place underwater over time. In the application we acknowledged there are many initiatives in our community to promote education, awareness and conservation of this area of ecological significance. We believe that all of these efforts played a role in the acceptance of this Hope Spot.

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Image by Santiago Manzano

This Hope Spot is bordered by Vancouver Island, the mainland of North America, and the USA/Canada Border. It extends as far north as Gabriola Island, east as far as Saturna Island, south as far as D'Arcy Island and includes the Goldstream estuary that feeds Saanich Inlet. The Goldstream River is the only major tributary feeding the Saanich Inlet and sees thousands of salmon returning each year through the Southern Gulf Islands. Saanich Inlet and the Southern Gulf Islands are featured in the latest news release from Mission Blue that speaks to how rich the area is with diverse creatures and plants unique to this part of the world. The news release also highlights issues such as overfishing, heavy marine traffic, and urban development that impact the natural balance of the area.

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We are very proud of this achievement and the opportunity to bring further international attention to Saanich Inlet and the Southern Gulf Islands, but we know there is more that can be done to promote environmental stewardship to protect the marine biodiversity. Adam Olsen, a member of the Tsartlip First Nation and recent Deputy Leader of the BC Green Party has shared:

“The Saanich Inlet is a very special place. It has been home to my ancestors for countless generations, and I grew up fishing and playing in the Inlet. We have a great deal of work to get it back to the biodiversity and productivity it was once known for but through the incredible efforts of local residents, it is on the comeback. With another generation of heavy industry proposed for the Saanich Inlet we must reaffirm our commitment to a better future rather than chasing 20th-century industries.

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Image by Santiago Manzano

The Mission Blue Hope Spot designation is another step toward embracing the opportunities created by life-sustaining ecosystems that surround us. I am very excited about the opportunity provided by this designation for our home and I look forward to taking advantage of the economic, social and environmental benefits it provides us!”

Rockfish Divers has created a short video:

Should you have any questions about the new Hope Spot, or some of the events coming up with Rockfish Divers, do not hesitate to contact Alisa Preston, Director of the Rockfish Divers Marine Science Foundation by email or phone (778-977-3474).

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