Funds needed to protect threatened Salish Sea

Provincial budget lacks specific funds to meet ocean health goals

March 2, 2010

Victoria, BC – Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA) is voicing its concern that today’s budget lacked a funding commitment to meet the province’s stated goal of being a global leader on ocean health.  Without funds to develop and implement its ocean and coastal strategy, the province risks being ineffective at a time when BC’s oceans are under increasing stress from pollution and the impact of climate change, in particular ocean acidification.

"After acknowledging in the Throne Speech that ocean health is a priority to British Columbia, we were disappointed to see no money is being put on the table to provide real protection to our oceans, including the newly declared Salish Sea," said Christianne Wilhelmson, Managing Director, Georgia Strait Alliance. 

The recently signed Pacific Coast Collaborative agreement between California, Oregon, Washington, BC and Alaska committed all jurisdictions to effectively managing our shared oceans, including reducing pollution through advanced wastewater management, more collaborative ocean research and managing the growing threat of ocean debris.  But with a reduction in funding to environmental stewardship, the ability to take action on these issues could be reduced.

In addition, the Ministry of Housing and Social Development is still deciding on whether to stand by their decision last fall to remove the environment from its priority focus for Gaming Grants.  If this decisions stands, it could mean that community groups like GSA, whose education programs increase understanding of the benefits and beauty of our oceans and provide individuals the tools to reduce their impacts on our coastal waters, could be threatened.

"We support the government’s efforts to create a strategy focused on ocean health, however, this plan will not succeed if substantial funding is not committed immediately," says Wilhelmson. "If funds are not in place to take action and groups are not funded to increase our province’s ocean literacy, the decline of BC’s ocean health will only continue."

Formed in 1990, Georgia Strait Alliance is the only citizens’ group working to protect and restore the marine environment and promote the sustainability of Georgia Strait, its adjoining waters and communities, the place where 70% of British Columbians live, work and play.

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For more information, please contact:

Christianne Wilhelmson, Managing Director, Georgia Strait Alliance, (604) 862-7579

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