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Protecting Marine Shore Life, Beaches, and Areas of Special Sensitivity

by BC Outdoors Magazine

Marine life has a difficult time surviving the elements when the tide is out, during extreme temperature changes, in sun light, during changes in salinity levels and during oxygenation and these are all problems they face daily. There is a delicate balance required for survival and human interference can be devastating on marine life.

Remember: The Earth is not happening to us. We are happening to the Earth.

  • When you encounter marine life please use the following as guidelines:
  • Look but don’t touch.
  • Move rocks gently. Leave them the way you found them.
  • Only collect seashells, rocks etc., nothing live
  • Do not step on oysters, clams, or other marine life.

Protect the Beaches

It’s always fun to have a fire on the beach, it is also important to leave the beach the way you found it.

  • Only burn driftwood and keep your fire small.
  • Make sure your trash goes home with you or dispose of it in the proper receptacles.
  • Remove any trace of your fire pit. Spread the rocks out and cover over the ashes.
  • Dismantle any lean-tos.
  • Pack up any human or animal waste and dispose of it properly.

Respect Areas of Special Sensitivity

  • Seal Haul-Outs: Harbour, fur, California seals and otters frequent log booms and small rocky inlets. Keep your distance from these areas. Never feed, chase, or harass any of these animals, they will defend themselves if threatened.
  • Bird Rookeries: The small islands, cliffs and beaches where gulls, cormorants, puffins, auklets and other sea birds live are very sensitive to human disturbance, especially during nesting season. Any chick out of the protection of its nest has little or no chance of surviving. All of these sights are legally protected from human interference.
  • Whale Watching Sites: We have three coastlines here in Canada with a variety of whales like the orca and the great blue whale. Because whale watching is so popular extreme caution must be taken to not disturb these animals in their natural environment. It is illegal to approach or disturb them. Even a quiet craft like a canoe or kayak can disturb an unsuspecting mammal.
  • Estuaries and Wetlands: These shorelines are sensitive to any form of disturbance. They are essentially low energy areas that consist of either mud or sand flats located at the mouths of both freshwater creeks and rivers. These areas, large and small, are highly productive and have ecological significance for vegetation, fish, birds and mammals. Care must be taken to maintain their integrity. Never walk on the vegetation in the mud and sand flats or estuaries. Never discharge any sewage, grey water, or bilge into or near estuaries or wetlands. Never feed, chase, or harass the inhabitants and keep all pets out of these areas.
  • Aquaculture Sites: The Canadian coastline has many fish and shellfish farms that quite often are the livelihood of entire communities and individuals alike. Oyster grow-outs on beaches, oyster long-lines and salmon farms are usually located in sheltered coves frequented by boaters. Shore based aquaculture leases are marked with either/and/or stakes, cement blocks and signs. Large, round, yellow marker-buoys indicate water-based leases. Shellfish leases are highly sensitive to human and animal fecal matter and other contaminants so never discharge any sewage, grey water, or bilge into or near these areas, Keep a respectable distance away from these areas. Never pick or dig for commercial shellfish. Never walk in these areas. Never remove shellfish from their growing bags. Never conduct erratic manoeuvres or rev your boat engine(s). Reduce speed, and be very, very quiet. Boat noise and wash are disruptive to farm salmon, always reduce speed in these areas.

Protecting the other aspects of the Marine Environment

The effect of boating on the marine environment is always a problem. Excessive boat wash, engine noise and emissions can travel long distances above, on and below the water’s surface. Keep the marine environment safe by using underwater mufflers, keep your radio volume low, maintain your engine(s), use the proper oil/gas mixture for two-stroke engines and obey the speed limits in public areas.

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