Gwaii Haanas kelp forests (Gwaii Haanas - Island of Beauty Facebook Image | Lynn Lee)

Marine Ecologists at work to protect kelp forests in the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

Sea urchins are being culled by ecologists to preserve the B.C coastal region off Haida Gwaii

Parks Canada YouTube: Chiix̱uu Tll iinasdll: Nurturing Seafood to Grow

Ecologists are manually removing sea urchins from the coast around Gwaii Haanas, with the move coming as efforts to protect kelp forests found in the area are stepped up.

The coastal area off Haida Gwaii shelters a sensitive kelp forest forming the basis of an ecosystem hosting a large range of biodiversity.

READ MORE: Gwaii Haanas looks to protect more marine areas

Lynn Lee is a marine ecologist with the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and is working closely with divers and the local community in order to restore the dwindling kelp forests.

“In Gwaii Haanas, by using science and traditional knowledge, the Haida Nation, Parks Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada work together to contribute to healthy ecosystems, to protect culturally important species and species-at-risk. This project is the result of many years of good people working together to plan and implement ecosystem restoration projects in Gwaii Haanas,” Lynn Lee said in an e-mail with The Northern View.

“The project team monitors kelp growth and investigates how kelp forest restoration in Gwaii Haanas benefits species that call it home including abalone, urchins and rockfishes. We also compare biodiversity, productivity and the increase in the number of juvenile animals inside and outside the restored area. Over the next few years, we aim to work with commercial urchin harvesters to continue fishing in the project area to keep the restoration area free of urchins,” Lee said.

Lee said since the beginning of the project, Gwaii Haanas and Haida Fisheries have successfully delivered guuding.ngaay (red sea urchin) to Haida Gwaii communities three separate times, the most recently on Friday, March 29, 2019.

She noted the community food outreach is a key partnership component of the project. Guuding.ngaay is a traditional Haida food and considered a delicacy on Haida Gwaii as urchins are often a long boat ride away from most communities.

“This spring, commercial urchin harvesters will continue to remove urchins from the site,” she added.

READ MORE: Second Haida Gwaii oceans forum set to make waves

Urchin control has become necessary with warmer waters and the disappearance of natural predators, such as sea otters, causing a spike in the sea urchin population.

“There are preliminary reports that baby kelp is indeed growing back at the project site and that urchins are generally not moving into the area very quickly,” Lee said when asked if there had been any noticeable effect from the removal of sea urchins.

“As the kelp returns, a cascade of benefits to other species is expected to take place. Kelp dependent species including abalone, rockfish, herring and salmon, which are culturally important to the Haida, will have improved habitat.”

She said kelp forests are important coastal ecosystems that are critical habitat for many species. Abalone, rockfish, juvenile herring and juvenile salmon all rely on kelp forests. These species are culturally important to the Haida. Northern abalone is endangered and several species of rockfish are threatened or of special concern.

“Gwaii Haanas is an ecological and cultural gem known as a place where living Haida culture thrives,” Lee said.

The Council of the Haida Nation, Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the commercial sea urchin sector will work together for at least the next three years to keep removing sea urchins from a small area in Gwaii Haanas for conservation and restoration purposes.



gareth.millroy@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Flowing kelp (Submitted Photo)

Just Posted

BC Bus North service extended to September

Transportation ministers have extended the service, which was set to expire at the end of May

Nisga’a leader named UNBC chancellor

Dr. Joseph Arthur Gosnell is the first Indigenous leader to assume the role

Northwest local governments team up to fill in future employment gaps

Around 17,000 jobs will need to be filled in the region over the next eight years

Poetry month sees launch of “Oona River Poems” at Rupert library

Peter Christensen consciously and lovingly documents our physical and psychological landscapes

Lily Swanson celebrates her 90th birthday in Prince Rupert

The Acropolis Manor resident has 22 grandchildren and is a great grandmother to 25 children

Prince Rupert students share portraits of kindness with children in Peru

The Memory Project gives teens a chance to sharpen their art skills and global awareness

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

Canfor curtailing operations across B.C.

Low lumber prices and the high cost of fibre are the cause of curtailment

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Haida youth travels to New York for UN forum on Indigenous issues

Haana Edensaw presented her speech in Xaad Kil, Masset dialect of the Haida language

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Most Read