New Project: BC Fishers and Scientists Team Up for Ocean Acidification Research

This season, a handful of BC fishers won’t just be pulling fish out of the ocean when they set out on a fishing trip, they will be collecting water samples too. As part of an initiative to understand ocean acidification along the coastline of British Columbia a unique collaboration has been established between researchers, industry partners, and commercial fishers. The organizations involved include: the T Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation, United Fishermen & Allied Workers Union, Hakai Institute, and Burke Analytics. By leveraging the knowledge and expertise of fishers who navigate these waters daily, this project aims to expand data collection efforts and enhance understanding of this critical environmental issue. This project highlights the power of citizen science and the importance of engaging diverse stakeholders in environmental research.

Ocean acidification poses a significant threat to marine ecosystems worldwide, impacting not only the health of vital habitats and species but also the coastal communities that rely on them. To better assess these changes in BC's coastal waters, we have enlisted the support of commercial fishers, who will act as citizen scientists by collecting valuable data during their fishing expeditions. 

Through this collaboration, participating fishers will collect water samples and record relevant oceanographic data such as temperature, location, CO2 and O2 levels. Commercial fish harvesters are uniquely positioned to collect these samples as there are many areas and regions of the BC coastline - for example the west coast of Haida Gwaii - that are under sampled and data poor, but are frequently visited by fishers. Fisher data will be integrated into a comprehensive database, providing researchers with insights into the state of ocean acidification in BC's coastal waters. 

"Commercial fishers play a vital role in our efforts to monitor and understand the effects of ocean acidification," said Alaina Pyde, T Buck Suzuki project lead. "Their firsthand experiences and observations are invaluable in tracking oceanographic changes and its implications for the marine environment that fish harvesters are so intrinsically linked to.” 

The findings from this data collection project are expected to inform policy decisions, conservation efforts, and ongoing research initiatives focused on mitigating the impacts of ocean acidification in BC's marine environment. By fostering collaboration between scientists and fishers, this project exemplifies the potential for collective action in addressing complex ecological challenges. 

We acknowledge that this project spans the entire coastline of British Columbia and occurs on traditional territories of numerous First Nations, who have stewarded these lands and waters since time immemorial.  

This project would not be possible without the generous funding provided through the Climate Ready BC Seafood program of the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Tula.



In the news

CBC Daybreak North interview with Alaina Pyde, June 17, 2024

Fish harvesters help research rising acidity of oceans, National Observer, July 12, 2024

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