As British Columbia’s marine sector and blue economy grows, so does the demand for a workforce trained in environmental management, monitoring, and ecosystem restoration. Students in Coast Mountain College’s Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE) program are learning foundational knowledge and taking part in real-world, community-based projects in Prince Rupert, to gain the necessary experience that will help meet that need.
Part of the program involves field studies, that put students out on the water, shoreline, and in coastal rainforests, where they learn technical skills and develop a strong sense of how coastal ecosystems react to the impacts of human activity.
“Whether out on our research boat or exploring an intertidal area on foot, students gain practical training in GPS navigation systems, GIS mapping, surveying and much more,” said Ken Shaw, ACE program coordinator.
Working together to discover, learn, and preserve ecosystems
Since 2012, ACE students have teamed up with the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to help support local marine life, through hands-on collaborations. Each summer, ACE works alongside PRPA’s Environmental Sustainability team to conduct monitoring programs at waterfront sites around the North Coast, looking for evidence of aquatic invasive species. With support from biologists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, findings from the local initiatives contribute to a coast-wide tracking network of invasive tunicate and bryozoan species. They also help monitor for the presence of European Green Crab by setting traps to capture adults, as well as collecting zooplankton samples to look for the crab in their larval stages.
“The experience students gain through working with the Prince Rupert Port Authority is extremely valuable,” said Shaw. “Our ongoing, innovative collaboration provides them an opportunity to participate in current research work that helps prepare them for careers in sustainability, ecology, fish and wildlife preservation, while contributing directly to the protection of local, native species.”
Learn more about the partnership between Coast Mountain College and Prince Rupert Port Authority by visiting rupertport.com/sustainability.