We are blessed with one of the richest and most diverse marine environments in the world. It is important that all sea kayakers enjoy this environment in a responsible and sustainable way.
The club’s conservation goals are to:
- Promote sound ecological practices by our members and awareness of the impact of our activities on our surroundings.
- Provide information to members to enhance their appreciation of the marine environment.
- Provide input to governments when they formulate environmental, legal or other policies that affect access to or the ecological sustainability of the marine environment.
- Advocate for the protection of existing marine protected areas and for the creation of additional protected areas to ensure the sustainability of BC’s unique marine ecosystems.
The following sections provide more information on how to practice ecologically friendly kayaking:
- Low Impact Camping
- Wildlife Viewing Guidelines
- Reporting Cetacean Sightings
- Conservation Organizations
- Climate Change Resources
The following 7 principles were developed by the Leave No Trace Centre for Outdoor Ethics and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). These principles are intended to help achieve a balance between enjoying wilderness and doing what it takes to protect these places from its visitors.
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Camp and Travel on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Click here for a detailed description of Low Impact Camping Principles ( PDF). Thank you for taking the time to better understand the impact of your actions on the environment.
The following books can be borrowed from SKABC’s library or purchased at MEC:
- “Leave No Trace – A Guide to the New Wilderness Etiquette” (2nd Edition) by Annette McGivney
- “Soft Paths – National Outdoor Leadership School” by Bruce Hampton and David Cole
- “How to Shit in the Woods” by Kathleen Meyers.
As a visitor to the coastal environment, you must be aware of how your being there impacts wildlife. Human presence creates stress and generally causes the animal to expend energy – to swim, run or fly away – in order to feel safe. Prolonged or repeated disturbance can negatively impact an animal’s mortality rate.
There are a number of characteristics unique to sea kayaking that increase the potential for harassment of marine mammals and seabirds. We are low lying, slow moving objects that travel in areas power boats and sail boats rarely enter. From the perspective of the animal, our approach is silent and without warning. Kayakers gravitate towards the shore-line, staying close to the inter-tidal zone where most species feed and find protection.
- Marine mammal viewing guidelines recommends a minimum viewing distance of 100 metres (approximately the distance of a football field). If your kayaking party finds itself unexpectedly within 100 metres of a whale(s), stop immediately and allow the whale(s) to pass.
- Avoid approaching whales from the front or from behind.
- Always approach and depart whales from the side, moving in a direction parallel to the direction of the whales.
Haul-outs and rookeries should not be approached. Use binoculars to observe animals from a distance and back off at any sign of agitation.
- If you find an abandoned seal pup, leave it alone. Take note as to where it is and when you saw it, and contact the appropriate officials when you are near a phone.
- Sometimes marine mammals appear inquisitive and follow or watch a kayak from the water. In these situations, it is appropriate to observe the animal from whatever distance it chooses however, you should not approach it.
- Do not swim with marine mammals.
- Stay off nesting sites. If a seabird is vocalizing at you, take the hint and move away from what the bird is trying to protect. If you are disturbing seabirds, its predators (for example crows) may use that opportunity to seize eggs or young birds.
For additional information, refer to the Marine Mammal Viewing Guidelines and to guidelines specific to paddlers in Johnstone Strait.
The BC Cetacean Sightings Network is a collaboration between Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.
British Columbia’s expansive coastline is home to twenty-three species of cetacean (dolphins, whales and porpoises), six of which are either endangered or threatened. An understanding of their distribution and abundance is crucial to conservation efforts. However, monitoring these coastal waters year-round is impossible for researchers without help from the public.
Prompt reporting of these important sightings is very valuable in achieving DFO science objectives and can assist researchers in locating the animals and furthering their investigations.
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Pacific Region
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Pacific Region, Species At Risk
- Parks Canada – National Marine Conservation Areas
- BC Parks
- Ministry of Environment
- Ministry of Natural Resource Operations – Recreation Sites and Trails
- CPAWS – BC Chapter is one of eleven chapters of the National Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, a non-profit membership-based conservation organization. This organization maintains staff who with the assistance of volunteers is dedicated to the protection of British Columbia’s marine environment.
- Georgia Strait Alliance’s mission is to protect and restore the marine environment and promote the sustainability of Georgia Strait, its adjoining waters and communities.
- Living Oceans Society is a non-profit research and public education organization committed to conserving marine biological diversity in order to ensure a healthy ocean and healthy coastal communities.
- Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia’s mission is to conserve and enhance outdoor settings and resources in British Columbia and secure public access to them for recreation. SKABC is actively involved with ORC.
- Sierra Club of BC’s mission is to (i) explore and protect the wild places of the earth; (ii) practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; (iii) educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and (iv) use all lawful means to carry out these objectives.
- Vancouver Aquarium – Marine Science Centre/ is a self-supporting, non-profit association dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through display and interpretation, education, research, and direct action. The Aquarium, located in Stanley Park, is home to 60,000 aquatic creatures, comprised of 800 different species.
- David Suzuki Foundation works to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that sustains us. Focusing on four program areas – oceans and sustainable fishing, forests and wild lands, climate change and clean energy, and the web of life -the Foundation uses science and education to promote solutions that help conserve nature.
- The Ocean Conservancy promotes healthy and diverse ocean ecosystems and opposes practices that threaten ocean life and human life. Through research, education, and science-based advocacy, The Ocean Conservancy informs, inspires, and empowers people to speak and act on behalf of the oceans. In all its work, The Ocean Conservancy strives to be the world’s foremost advocate for the oceans.
- Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society. Come out and volunteer with the Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society! We would appreciate kayak/boat support for our various marine conservation projects in Boundary Bay, Canada’s Top Important Bird Area. Volunteers also needed to help with Birds on the Bay events, planting, diving, eelgrass and forage fish
projects, shorekeepers…& lots more!
- West Coast Environmental Law. Dedicated to safeguarding the environment through law and takes up issues related to pollution, climate change, energy and resource extraction.
- Dogwood Initiative brings together everyday British Columbians to reclaim decision-making power over their air, land and water.
- The Wild Salmon Circle is a grassroots, citizen-run and funded action group, dedicated to the removal of open-net fish farms from BC’s coast and the restoration of healthy wild salmon runs in Canada.
- The Cetus Research and Conservation Society is a non-profit society based in Victoria BC. Since 2005 they have been working to facilitate the conservation of the marine environment.
Other Conservancy Organizations
- Nature Conservancy of Canada is a national charity dedicated to preserving ecologically significant areas through outright purchase, donations and conservation easements.
- TLC The Land Conservancy is a non-profit, charitable Land Trust working throughout British Columbia. TLC protects important habitat for plants, animals and natural communities as well as properties with historical, cultural, scientific, scenic or compatible recreational value. SKABC is supporting TLC’s fundraising for the purchase of Thwaytes Landing on Indian Arm in North Vancouver.
- The Nature Trust of British Columbia is a non-profit land conservation organization with a mandate to protect British Columbia’s natural variety of wildlife and plants and their critical habitats.
- “Heat” by George Monbiot is essential reading
- The BBC’s online “Climate Challenge” game is an engaging way to learn more about how different policies interact together and puts it in the context of how politically challenging it can be.
Current News and Analysis
- Realclimate.org is a website by climate scientists that analyses media stories and whether or not they are accurately reporting the science of climate change
- Desmogblog.com is a group of PR professionals that unravels the spin about current climate decisions
Canadian Specific Context
- The Pembina Institute’s Climate website does a great jon of outlining the issue, it’s impacts and policy analysis from a Canadian perspective.
- The Canadian government keeps a list of online carbon calculators that take into account province specific energy sources. You can find them at http://ecoaction.gc.ca/tools-outils-eng.cfm
Groups to hook up with/activities to do in groups
- Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup: In September 2009, 2010 and 2011 SKABC members participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, organized by the Vancouver Aquarium. So far we have worked on Twin Islands, Raccoon Island and and at Granite Falls, all in Indian Arm . We think this is a good annual event but are looking for a coordinator and for suggestions on shorelines to clean that would be suitable for a group of kayakers, probably supported by a small power boat to bring back the mounds of trash. Indian Arm parks have proved to be almost too clean already!
Members can also minimize their environmental footprints in other ways:
- Reduce, re-use, recycle: None of us will benefit in the long run through being gluttons for natural resources and manufactured products. Future generations will be appalled at our current levels of consumption and waste!
- Consider sharing rides or taking transit.
- Avoid use of disposable cups, plates and cutlery.
- Conserve energy use – heat, light, and unnecessary travel.
Every little effort helps!