Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Bringing Communities Together to Embark on Major Estuarine Restoration

Description

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows are important components of near-shore marine ecosystems that support and shelter many fish and invertebrates, including juvenile salmon. Because eelgrass reproduction in the Salish Sea is primarily through rhizome spread rather than seed dispersal, areas void of eelgrass due to disturbance are slow to recover even though historical disturbances of river dredging, log storage, mining and mill activities have ceased in the area.

Through funding by PSF, RecFish (DFO), CEC-NAPECA, volunteers and contractors; Comox Valley Project Watershed (CVPW) has been successfully transplanting eelgrass from donor beds to establish new beds in previously disturbed areas of the K'ómoks Estuary for the past five years. In July 2015, CVPW carried out a subtidal eelgrass planting of approximately 1000 m2;making their total of subtidal and intertidal combined restoration areas approximately 6500 m2. In 2013 a 3400 m2 transplant was the largest single effort to date. Follow up dive surveys have assessed this transplant as 95% successfully established and it was noted that there were also shoot growth by seed dispersal within the transplant beds.

Eelgrass transplant restoration efforts provide both ecological and social benefit to the Comox Valley. Eelgrass meadow restoration is not only a benefit to salmon recovery but also contributes to climate adaptation strategies. Community involvement through volunteerism, media releases, social media and education opportunities continue to provide information to the public on the importance of the eelgrass ecosystem as a key habitat for fish (especially salmon), as part of the marine food web, shoreline protection from storm surges, shoreline erosion stabilization and carbon sequestration from the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

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Five years of Eelgrass Habitat Restoration in the K’ómoks Estuary, BC Canada

2016SSEC

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows are important components of near-shore marine ecosystems that support and shelter many fish and invertebrates, including juvenile salmon. Because eelgrass reproduction in the Salish Sea is primarily through rhizome spread rather than seed dispersal, areas void of eelgrass due to disturbance are slow to recover even though historical disturbances of river dredging, log storage, mining and mill activities have ceased in the area.

Through funding by PSF, RecFish (DFO), CEC-NAPECA, volunteers and contractors; Comox Valley Project Watershed (CVPW) has been successfully transplanting eelgrass from donor beds to establish new beds in previously disturbed areas of the K'ómoks Estuary for the past five years. In July 2015, CVPW carried out a subtidal eelgrass planting of approximately 1000 m2;making their total of subtidal and intertidal combined restoration areas approximately 6500 m2. In 2013 a 3400 m2 transplant was the largest single effort to date. Follow up dive surveys have assessed this transplant as 95% successfully established and it was noted that there were also shoot growth by seed dispersal within the transplant beds.

Eelgrass transplant restoration efforts provide both ecological and social benefit to the Comox Valley. Eelgrass meadow restoration is not only a benefit to salmon recovery but also contributes to climate adaptation strategies. Community involvement through volunteerism, media releases, social media and education opportunities continue to provide information to the public on the importance of the eelgrass ecosystem as a key habitat for fish (especially salmon), as part of the marine food web, shoreline protection from storm surges, shoreline erosion stabilization and carbon sequestration from the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.