A healthy environment relies on all levels of the ecosystem, from small plants and biofilm to robust fish populations and wildlife. At the Port of Vancouver, balancing a healthy environment with a healthy port economy and thriving community is of the utmost importance.
There are areas of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s jurisdiction with plants that provide valuable habitat to a wide variety of wildlife. If there is potential for significant adverse impacts to habitat at a project site, through our Environmental Review Process, projects may require a habitat assessment and appropriate mitigation measures. Replanting vegetation is a common mitigation measure and the replanted vegetation is monitored for a few years to ensure it survives.
Fish and wildlife
In the Lower Mainland, we have a remarkable variety of fish, bird and wildlife species that live within our jurisdiction.
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority works closely with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, local community groups, and environmental associations to monitor, protect and create habitat for species, such as pacific salmon, eulachon, herring and birds using the Pacific Flyway area.
Species at risk
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the manager of federally-owned properties within its jurisdiction. Most of these properties are subject to development or day-to-day industrial activities, both of which may affect the surrounding natural environment, including species at risk. Species at risk require special consideration by federal land owners and decision-makers. Under the Species at Risk Act, individual species at risk, and in some cases habitat of species at risk, are legally protected on federal lands.
It is essential for the port authority to understand where these species may be located on our lands and find ways to mitigate the impact of port-related activities.
In 2014, we developed an inventory of species at risk, identifying 32 federally-listed species that are present now or predicted to appear within our jurisdiction. These include the Pacific water shrew, white sturgeon and northern red-legged frog. We took this action to document species at risk that are vulnerable to port-related activities and have a reasonable or high likelihood of occurring within our jurisdiction.
We developed an interactive inventory tool as part of this project, to provide maps that can be used when reviewing projects to identify potential impacts on species at risk and develop mitigation where needed. The report also prioritized the species for which future management planning and future field inventory work is recommended.
Globally, after habitat loss, invasive species are considered to be the most significant threat to biodiversity. In response to this threat, both Canada and British Columbia have developed invasive species strategies to address “harmful alien species whose introduction or spread threatens the environment, the economy, or society, including human health”.
In 2014, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority developed a land-based invasive plant inventory. Through this process, we identified high risk invasive plants existing or likely to exist within its jurisdiction including several types of knotweed, cordgrass, Giant hogweed and purple loosestrife. Non-native species of Spartina, commonly known as cordgrass, currently threaten coastal resources in British Columbia. These ecosystem engineers outcompete native plants and convert intertidal areas to homogenous cordgrass meadows, reducing food sources for waterfowl, resting sites for migratory birds, and production areas for shellfish.
For over a decade, the port athority has been a contributing member of the British Columbia Spartina Working Group, which actively works toward the eradication of invasive Spartina species on the coast of British Columbia. To curb the introduction of invasive species into our jurisdiction, we have identified activities that could lead to the introduction or spread of land-based invasive plant species, as well as best management practices for treatment of invasive plants. Moving forward, we will be working with tenants on management plans for high-risk land-based invasive plant species, and will continue to participate in regional discussions relating to invasive plant management and future threats.
Mossom Creek Hatchery and Education Centre
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has committed $125,000 over the next three years to assist with Mossom Creek Hatchery and Education Centre’s programming and operations. Established in 1976, Mossom Creek Hatchery and Education Centre is recognized as the longest running community hatchery program in the Fisheries and Oceans Canada Salmonid Enhancement Program, and supports hundreds of students each year through hands-on learning activities.
Pacific Salmon Foundation
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has partnered with the Pacific Salmon Foundation to help protect and restore salmon habitat within our operational jurisdiction. Since 2008, we have donated approximately $275,000 to community-led conservation initiatives and have sponsored the foundation’s Pink Salmon Festival.
Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre
The Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue Centre is a hospital for sick, injured or orphaned marine mammals with the goal or rehabilitating and re-releasing the “patients” back into the wild. Since 2003 the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre has been located on port lands we are proud to support them by providing this land at no cost. Additionally we have been the presenting sponsor of the centre for the past three years; providing funding to help them continue doing such important work.