Funded by British Columbia’s Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative, this project established partnerships between 11 Nuu-chah-nulth and Coast Salish First Nations, NGOs, marine-related industries and the Province. Project objectives include the removal of anthropogenic debris from shoreline environments as well as the removal of derelict vessels from near and inshore marine environments. This project encompasses 400 kilometers on the West Coast of Vancouver Island and involves affected communities in each area of operation. Our partners include the T'Sou-ke, Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, Hesquiaht, Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k:tles7et'h', Huu-ay-aht, Tseshaht, Ucluelet, Ehattesaht Chinexint First Nations, the Nuchatlaht Tribe, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, the Province of British Columbia, Rugged Coast Research Society, Surfrider Pacific Rim, and Ocean Legacy Foundation.
394.2 km of shoreline cleaned
133,236 Kg total debris
22,670kg landfilled debris
69,538 kg recycled debris
41,028 Kg upcycled debris
232 jobs created (25 full time)
"There's so much more to do despite the fact that we've done so much in two years. I know British Columbians support this work, I know it's important to Indigenous Peoples, I know it's important to everyone who appreciates the beauty of Oceans and our Coastlines. I look forward to all of us working together to make a difference."
George Heyman, BC Minister of Environment
After the catastrophic fires and flood of 2021, CRS was contracted by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to remove flood debris in partnership with the Indigenous communities of Coldwater, Lower Nicola, Nooaitch, Shackan and Cook’s Ferry. These floods damaged communities and cultural sites, destroyed transportation corridors, and severely impacted local economies and infrastructure. Within weeks, CRS had developed methodologies and protocols related to large-scale habitat and cultural concerns and onboarded and trained more than 200 Indigenous employees to engage in flood restoration work.
Working in partnership with local Indigenous communities CRS has developed innovative frameworks for large-scale climate emergency response and created foundational training and employment pathways for local communities to build skills for ongoing and future climate response projects. Phase 1 of this project has been completed resulting in the successful removal of over 3,200 tonnes of debris. Phase 2 is set to be implemented in the summer of 2022.
Key Statistics From Phase 1 (March 15 - June 7):
300 debris sites tended to
Total debris removed: +217,400
$1.3M in funding directed towards Indigenous contractors
$1.6M in payroll directed towards Indigenous employees
200 employees trained in 6 weeks
Living wages paid to all employees
126 km of riverbanks cleaned
“It’s as if you walked into a Home Depot and turned it upside down and dumped it into a river - that’s pretty much what we’re finding out there. Cars, trucks, large pieces of agricultural equipment, bridges, large sections of road and infrastructure, power poles, power lines. You name it, it’s out there.”
Josh Temple, CRS Executive Director
This project is delivered in partnership with the Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht and T’Sou-ke First Nations and emerged through conversation with our partners and Government agencies. Together we identified collective needs and developed and implemented a first of its kind large-scale trapping and control plan. We spent several years working with our partners developing research protocols, living agreements, and individual partner agreements to ensure that every step of this project recognized and uplifted the knowledge, experience, and needs of the participating Nations. The aim of this project is to trap, control, and monitor European green crab (EGC) in an attempt to mitigate and remediate the damage that they pose to shared environmental, economic, and cultural resources within the Pacific Region. European green crabs are known as ‘ecosystem engineers’, altering environments to meet their needs and resulting in the destruction of native eelgrass beds, juvenile clam beds, and prime wild salmon rearing habitat. The damage to commercial fisheries, cultural keystone food sources, economic opportunities and healthy habitat is immense and long-lasting. Since project implementation, over 265,000 EGC have been trapped and disposed of, with this number expected to increase dramatically as this project expands in staff and geographical reach during the 2022/2023 fiscal year.
November 2021 - January 2023:
488,000+ Crabs Removed
30 Jobs Created
Expand to 12 additional locations
Create 50 additional full time jobs for Nuu-chah-nulth and Coast Salish Nations
“It's an Indigenous law handed down by our ancestors. It's a responsibility for anyone that’s a T’sou-ke member. That responsibility is always to enhance the environment. We need to get back to that enhancement model that our ancestors always taught us. And that is the way we invest in the environment. That's our currency right there.”
Chief Gordon Planes, T’sou-ke First Nation (Project Partner)
This project focuses on removing and disposing of derelict fishing gear and marine aquaculture debris. Derelict fishing gear, also known as ‘ghost gear,’ is any discarded, lost, or abandoned fishing gear left in marine environments which has the potential to trap, entangle, and kill marine life. The majority of identified sites are in territorial waters of the Pacific Region, necessitating an approach that maintains First Nations leadership and community priorities. This project is conducted in partnership with Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, T’Sou-ke, Huuayaht, Tseshaht, Hupacasath, and Hesquiaht First Nations, Ministry of FLNRORD, DFO and Transport Canada.
Over 1,500 Tonnes of debris removed
"It makes me feel good to be a big part of cleaning up our Oceans. It's nice to see that the government is taking action on clearing these places up, and hopefully bringing it back to a sustainable place to live for the wildlife, bringing back some of those resources to the people, to the nations."
Henderson Charlie, CRS Dive Operations Manager, Ahousaht
Removing abandoned and derelict vessels within traditional First Nation territories. In partnership with Transport Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canadian Coast Guard, the Province of British Columbia and local First Nations.
100 of 10,000 vessels removed
3,500,000 Kg total debris
-2,000,000 Kg of landfilled debris
-950,000 Kg of debris recycled
-550,000 kg of upcycled
"We did a boat at Kvarno Island in Ucluelet. We drove by it a couple of weeks ago and the spot where the boat sat is now growing Sea Asparagus, so it seems to be recovering pretty quickly. It makes it meaningful work."
Nick Touchie, CRS Safety Officer, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ
Restoring and rehabilitating migratory corridors for wild salmon. Retrieval of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded ghost fishing gear (ALDFG). Focusing on estuaries, nearshore rearing areas, eelgrass beds and coastal watersheds. In partnership with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Parks Canada, the Province of British Columbia, BC Parks, tourism and marine-industry stakeholders and local First Nations.
9 abandoned aquaculture sites removed
+600 tonnes of debris removed
All of the debris and everything that's on our coastal waterlines needs to be cleaned up. It's been sitting on our beaches for quite some time. It's important for us to start getting to work and doing the things that are going to help our environment and our fish and everything else that we survive off of for our Nation."
Dave Miller, Fisheries Manager, Ehattesaht (Project Partner)
This project focuses on supporting the Ahousaht Nation’s efforts for habitat rehabilitation and environmental resilience in their lands and waters. As a result of discussions with Ahousaht First Nation leadership, CRS performed a preliminary survey and assessment of Ahousaht territories, with the purpose of determining the type of anthropogenic debris, abandoned infrastructure, and derelict vessels for removal. CRS engaged in discussions with Ahousaht leadership to determine the best course of action for debris removal and received permission to proceed with project development and implementation in 2021. Community revitalization, derelict vehicle and vessel removal, seabed and salmonid migratory corridor rehabilitation, and the retrieval of ghost gear were the key activities of the project. This project was carried out in partnership with Ahousaht First Nation and Cermaq Canada.
“Our people have done this for millennia. They have always been stewards of the territory and now it's our turn to take that ball and start doing it for the future.”
Byron Charlie, MHSS Ahousaht, Project Partner
Beginning in 2019 and in partnership with the Government of Canada, The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICAAT), the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), and The Billfish Foundation, this project aims to record the migratory patterns and population dynamics of pelagic fish in Canada’s Atlantic region and how they are impacted by climate change. We use DNA samping and PSAT/acoustic tagging, to perform stock assessments and monitoring of bluefin, big eye, yellowfin and albacore tunas, marlin, sailfish and swordfish in Canadian and International waters.
“We fish these rivers, we pray in these rivers, we eat out of these rivers, we live in these river systems, and bringing us in to help clean those systems is vital. Bringing that economic activity to our members - who live here - is huge.”
Christine Minnabarriet, Cook’s Ferry Indian Band (Project Partner)
This project involves the stock assessment and monitoring of marine wildlife in Canadian waters, and is performed in partnership with the Government of Canada. This project involves the DNA sampling and tagging of wild salmon in British Columbian waters, as well as the DNA sampling and tagging of additional marine wildlife in Canadian waters. This project provides valuable information regarding the migratory patterns and population dynamics of Canadian marine wildlife.
“For the land to be well, we need to be out on the land. We need to bring health back, and in bringing health back to the land, we bring health back to ourselves as a people.”
Lenora Starr, Community Wellness and Social Development, Shackan Indian Band (Project Partner)