Beach Education and Conservation of Habitat (BEACH) Program
Our beaches are under threat from multiple sources, including pollution, overland flow erosion, storm drain outfalls, garbage, sea-level rise, climate-related storm activity and backshore development.
The Beach Education and Conservation of Habitat (BEACH) Program provides Victoria area residents with opportunities to gain hands-on experience in beach conservation and protection. Often delivered during beach cleanup events, our program addresses these threats and supports environmental stewardship through education and citizen science.
Although many people know their beaches intimately, they don’t always know how a beach was formed and that it is constantly changing. Along with education about dynamic beach processes, we teach stewards to identify developing or imminent environmental threats.
The BEACH Program provides information and training on Observe, Record, Report protocols established by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Armed with this knowledge, stewards are better able to help mitigate threats to beaches by lobbying and supporting activities, such as beach protection, nourishment and restoration.
We also hold public meetings, seminars and presentations to illustrate the impact of residential development, climate change and other threats to shoreline ecosystems.
Brian Koval with microplastics found at a local beach
Our program supports environmental stewardship through education and citizen science.
Forage fish spawning surveys
We provide on-site training in scientific data collection, using citizen-science protocols associated with forage fish studies, beach seining and related scientific programs.
Forage fish are small schooling fish, such as Pacific sand lance, surf smelt, Pacific herring and anchovies. These species are critical components of the ocean food web, feeding on phytoplankton and zooplankton and transferring this energy to salmon, seabirds and marine mammals.
While often abundant, forage fish spawning beaches are undergoing a coastal squeeze, experiencing the effects of shoreline development on land and climatic conditions from the sea.
Forage fish beach spawning surveys are important for increasing our knowledge of Pacific sand lance and surf smelt spawning behaviour and their use of intertidal beaches for spawning.
We are collaborating with the Strait of Georgia Data Centre, Pacific Salmon Foundation and Institute for the Ocean and Fisheries (UBC) to gather forage fish ecosystem information on local beaches. This information will be used to inform decisions that impact intertidal areas and contribute to other nearshore research projects throughout the Salish Sea.
Forage fish spawning survey in Roberts Bay
Many of Greater Victoria’s streams and beaches are littered with plastics, garbage and other deleterious debris. This material washes downstream or off the beach and ends up in the ocean. In fact, about 80% ocean garbage comes from urban and storm runoff, sewer overflows, beach visitors, inadequate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, construction and illegal dumping.
Plastics and other artificial material in the ocean are a critical threat to wildlife and are an environmental concern that needs to be addressed. Moreover, garbage in streams and terrestrial areas is detrimental to sensitive habitats and the flora and fauna within, including salmonids.
For more information about our BEACH Program, check out our webinar: