Since 1991, our team has been creating, restoring and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat – including salt water marshes, intertidal marshes and eelgrass beds – to help maintain a balance between a healthy environment and future development that may be required for port operations.
Habitat Enhancement Program
Our Habitat Enhancement program, which was formalized through a 2012 Working Agreement with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, improves our ability to offset potential impacts of development.
The Habitat Enhancement Program is a Vancouver Fraser Port Authority initiative focused on creating, restoring and enhancing fish and wildlife habitat. The program consists of projects around the Lower Mainland, through which the port authority ensures the viability and sustainability of new and enhanced habitat. The program is a proactive measure intended to provide a balance between a healthy environment and future development projects that may be required for port operations.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has overseen the successful completion of a number of habitat enhancement projects in Delta, Surrey, and Vancouver. Learn about our proposed habitat enhancement projects.
Field studies program
We undertake field studies as part of ongoing environmental and technical work for Habitat Enhancement Projects.
October 2017 – Field Studies Notification [PDF]
August 2017 – Field Studies Notification [PDF]
June 2017 – Field Studies Notification [PDF]
October 2015 – Field Studies Information Sheet [PDF]
September 2015 – Field Studies Information Sheet [PDF]
August 2015 – Field Studies Information Sheet [PDF]
Types of habitat
Along with partners, we have created, restored or enhanced various types of habitat throughout the Lower Mainland that benefit our region’s fish and wildlife. For example, we are focused on implementing a number of habitat types to benefit the aquatic ecosystem. Here are the various types of habitat throughout the Lower Mainland:
A tidal marsh is a type of marsh that is found along coasts and estuaries, where fresh water meets salt water. Tidal marshes provide important habitat to support juvenile salmon rearing, waterfowl, migrating birds and other fish and wildlife.
Saltmarsh is a type of intertidal marsh found in coastal areas, where ocean tides flood and drain marshland. Saltmarsh species – including eelgrass, pickleweed (sea asparagus) and dune grass – provide an important source of primary production, nutrients and organic matter for a food web that many different species of fish, birds and other wildlife rely on.
Eelgrass is a perennial flowering plant that forms underwater beds, which support a variety of species including fish, waterfowl and invertebrates. In particular, eelgrass provides shelter for juvenile salmon, Pacific herring, Dungeness crab, migrating brant geese, clams, shrimp and starfish. Eelgrass beds also support critical ecological functions including nutrient cycling, storm protection, and exporting organic matter.
Marine refuge areas
Caissons are hollow concrete structures used to build marine terminals and docks. By adding strategically placed holes in the caissons, we can create refuge areas and habitat for marine life. We call these “caisson refugia”, and they allow fish, crabs, shrimp, amphipods, sea stars and other marine organisms to seek refuge from predators and occasional rough waters. For instance, caisson refugia was used to offset development at the Deltaport Third Berth.
Habitat benches are areas underwater – like wide benches – that are built at different elevations, creating the necessary conditions for a variety of vegetation to grow. These benches are placed underwater and then colonize naturally. The resulting vegetation has numerous benefits, including supporting shelter and food for fish. Habitat benches are currently located at Roberts Bank and in Burrard Inlet, along with an artificial reef near Cates Park.
In addition to working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, we engage with all levels of government, regulators, First Nations and adjacent communities to tailor habitat enhancement projects to individual environments. For years, we have also collaborated with environmental organizations, such as Ducks Unlimited and Pacific Salmon Foundation, to enhance local habitat.