Esquimalt First Nation Traditional land (and water) use areas.

In August, 2014, the Trans Mountain Pipeline consultant Tera submitted a “Supplemental Traditional Marine Resource Transportation Technical Report. 

In it, a chart is presented with areas of traditional use by the Esquimalt First Nations is presented. This is the first time this kind of map has appeared, and it is rather interesting since the Esquimalt FN remained uninvolved throughout the Race Rocks MPA Advisory Board meetings .

 

“EXECUTIVE SUMMARY An Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment was completed by TERA, a CH2M HILL Company,and was submitted as part of the Application to the National Energy Board (NEB) in December 2013 for the proposed Trans Mountain Expansion Project (referred to as TMEP or the Project). The NEB will conduct a detailed review and hold a Public Hearing to determine if it is in the public interest to recommend a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for construction and operation of the Project. Pending regulatory approval, Trans Mountain Pipeline ULC (Trans Mountain) plans to begin construction in 2016 and go into service in 2017.Trans Mountain will continue to engage Aboriginal communities through all phases of the Project. Traditional Marine Resource Use (TMRU) information received from participating communities will be reviewed in order to confirm literature results and mitigation measures. Additional issues of concern, TMRU sites or features identified through ongoing engagement with Aboriginal communities will be considered for incorporation into Project planning under the guidance of existing marine transport regulations and mitigation recommendations. The results of these ongoing engagement efforts will be provided to the NEBin future supplemental filings. Further information is provided in Technical Report (TR) 8B-5 in Volume 8B,  Traditional Marine Resource Use Technical Report of the Application. ”

This report contained a map of the traditional use areas of Esquimalt First Nations which shows use of the  Race Rocks Area as well as the adjacent coastline. It is shown in this link:

esquimalttraditionallanduse area

Click for large version

Race Rocks: Legislative Gaps in Protecting Inshore Marine Protected Areas : Ken Dunham

Ken Dunham, a graduate of Pearson College UWC,  now enrolled in a Law program at the University of Ottawa has submitted the following as a class assignment in Natural Resources Law, CML 1105H for Professor Stewart Elgie.

See the complete paper in this PDF: Race Rocks Legal Analysis-1

Introduction

Canada is a country of incredible natural beauty and ecological diversity, a significant portion of which has been protected under a system of national and provincial parks and other reserves. One might think that it would be a straightforward matter to similarly protect another unique ecological zone. Especially if it was small, located in a relatively remote location, and there was no suggestion that it should be used for anything else.

This paper explores why this is not so simple in the context of inshore marine areas. Canada’s constitutional / legal framework creates several gaps and overlaps with respect to the environment. The broader issue is not with any particular piece of legislation, but rather the sometimes-narrow context in which each was devised. This is further complicated by how the various statutory pieces fit together (or not) under the division of powers outlined in Canada’s constitution.

These issues can frustrate even the most straightforward project that attempts to carve out a little bit of nature for the benefit of future generations, as exemplified by Race Rocks.

———-

Conclusion

From a legal and constitutional perspective, the most comprehensive protection for Race Rocks would involve the Province of British Columbia transferring the islets and neighboring seabed to the federal government, followed by designation of Race Rocks as a Marine Conservation area under the CNMCAA.93 This would place stewardship of Race Rocks under one government and one minister.

The alternate approaches all involve significant legislative, constitutional, and ministerial gaps that leave major eco-systems at Race Rocks without complete protection.

An outright fishing ban within the boundaries of the Race Rocks reserve would greatly simplify enforcement and prosecution.

Regardless of the approach taken, continued involvement of the local First Nations is essential, given their Douglas Treaty fishing rights and various Aboriginal claims currently being negotiated. The First Nations perspective is that they should be one of three governments sharing decision-making authority as equals, and not merely labelled as just another stakeholder to be “consulted” (i.e. possibly ignored).

See the complete paper in this PDF: Race Rocks Legal Analysis-1

 

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) Proposed Marine Protected Area Ecosystem Overview and Assessment Report

Correct citation for this publication: Backe, N., S. Davies, K. Conley, G. Kosmider, G. Rasmussen, H. Ibey and K. Ladell.2011. Race rocks (XwaYeN) proposed marine protected area ecosystem overview and assessment report. Can. Manuscr. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2949: ii + 30
Executive Summary
Background
Race Rocks (XwaYeN), located 17 km southwest of Victoria in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, consists of nine islets, including the large main island, Great Race. Named for its strong tidal currents and rocky reefs, the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) are a showcase for Pacific marine life. This marine life is the result of oceanographic conditions supplying the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area with a generous stream of nutrients and high levels of dissolved oxygen. These factors contribute to the creation of an ecosystem of high biodiversity and biological productivity.In 1980, the province of British Columbia, under the authority of the provincial Ecological Reserves Act , established the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. This provided protection of the terrestrial natural and cultural heritage values (nine islets) and of the ocean seabed (to the 20 fathoms/36.6 meter contour line). Ocean dumping, dredging and the extraction of non-renewable resources are not permitted within the boundaries of the Ecological Reserve. However, the Ecological Reserve cannot provide for the conservation and protection of the water column or for the living resources inhabiting the coastal waters surrounding Race Rocks (Xwa YeN) as these resources are under the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The federal government, through the authority of theOceans Act (1997), has established an Oceans Strategy, based on the principles of sustainable development, integrated management and the precautionary approach. Part II of the Oceans Act also provides authority for the development of tools nece ssary to carry out the Oceans Strategy, tools such as the establishment of Marine Protecte d Areas (MPA). This federal authority will complement the previously established protection to the area as an Ecological Reserve, by affording protection and conservation measures to the living marine resources. Under Section 35 of the Oceans Act, the Governor in Council is authorized to designate, by regulation, Marine Protected Areas (MPA) for any of the following reasons:

  • (a) the conservation and protection of commercial and non-commercial fishery resources, including marine mammals and their habitats;
  • (b) the conservation and protection of endangered or threatened species and their habitats;
  • (c) the conservation and protection of unique habitats;
  • (d) the conservation and protection of marine areas of high biodiversity or biological productivity; and
  • (e) the conservation and protection of any other marine resource or habitat as is necessary to fulfill the mandate of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

In 1998, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as one of four pilot Marine Protected Area (MPA) initiatives on Canada’s Pacific Coast. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) meets the criteria set out in paragraphs 35(1) (a), (b) and (d) above. Establishing a MPA within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area will provide for a more comprehensive level of conservation and protection for the ecosystem than can be achieved by an Ecological Reserve on its own. Designating a MPA within the area encompassing the Ecological Reserve will facilitate the integration of conservation, protection and management initiatives under the respective authorities of the two governments.

physical and biological systems of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was completed by Wright and Pringle (2001). The 2001 report provides an extensive ecological overview describing the geological, physical oceanographic and biological components of
Race Rocks (XwaYeN) and the surrounding waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the time. Natural history observations and some traditional knowledge were also included. The following report is a brief update to summarize new information that has been collected in the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area since that time and describe any changes
to trends in species distributions and oceanographic conditions. This work is meant to supplement the existing ecological overview (Wright and Pringle 2001).

See the full 32 page PDF  Ecosystem overview2011

Race Rocks Public Advisory Board Meeting #6 Agenda and Minutes March 30, 2011

Race Rocks Public Advisory Board Meeting #6 10:00 – 15:00, 30 March 2011

BC Ministry of Environment Jutland Road, Victoria, British Columbia

Meeting Goal:

To receive feedback and input for the Race Rocks Public Advisory Board (the Board) in order to identify any remaining issues and to conclude the public consultation phase.

Objectives:

  1. To update the Board on progress to date
  2. To receive feedback on the regulatory approach
  3. To receive feedback on all impacts resulting from the regulatory intent
  4. To identify opportunities for collaboration in management and administration with the ecological reserve
  5. To identify and discuss future MPA management measures.

Items for Discussion        (NOTE: TIME is the suggested– minutes  required for each item)

ITEM

ANIMATOR

TIME

START

1. Welcome

Glen

10:00

2. Introductions

Glen

5

10:05

3. Meeting #6 Agenda

  a. Review documents and reports to date for additional comments

Nicole

5

10:10

  b. Discuss / amend / approve

All

5

10:15

4. Meeting #5 Minutes – discuss comments / amend / approve

All

5

10:20

5. UVIC Research project on Stakeholder Interactions

Philip Akins

10

10:30

6. First Nations Update

Glen/Aaron

15

10:45

7. Regulatory Intent

Hilary/Christie

75

12:00

LUNCH – provided

60

8. Regulatory Intent continued

Hilary/Christie

15

1:00

9. Future MPA management

Glen/Doug

30

1:15

10. Next steps

Christie/Glen

30

1:45

11. Final comments and adjournment

Glen/others

2:15

 

Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada
These minutes of a  Race Rocks Public Advisory Board  meeting are from the Archives of Fisheries and Oceans Canada: http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/consultation/oceans/rocher-race-rocks/docs/min-pv/2011-03-30-eng.htm

Meeting Notes
Race Rocks Public Advisory Board Meeting #6

Archived Content
10:00 – 15:00, 30 March, 2011

B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, British Columbia

Meeting Goal

To receive feedback and input from the Race Rocks Public Advisory Board (the Board) in order to move the designation process forward.

Objectives

  1. To update the Board on progress to date
  2. To receive feedback on the regulatory approach
  3. To receive feedback on all impacts resulting from the regulatory intent
  4. To identify opportunities for collaboration in management and administration with the ecological reserve
  5. To identify and discuss future MPA management measures Continue reading

Race Rocks Public Advisory Board meeting /2011-03-30

Meeting Notes
Race Rocks Public Advisory Board Meeting #6
10:00 – 15:00, 30 March, 2011
B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, British Columbia

Meeting Notes Race Rocks Public Advisory Board Meeting #6
These minutes were available originally on the DFO website.
Meeting Goal

To receive feedback and input from the Race Rocks Public Advisory Board (the Board) in order to move the designation process forward.

Objectives

To update the Board on progress to date
To receive feedback on the regulatory approach
To receive feedback on all impacts resulting from the regulatory intent
To identify opportunities for collaboration in management and administration with the ecological reserve
To identify and discuss future MPA management measures Continue reading

Values Input table from Lester Pearson College UWC 2010

VALUES INPUT TABLE: for DFO Race Rocks MPA Advisory Board Process.

Past, Present, Future Use

Lester B.Pearson College’s first significant interaction with the area was in 1977 as a location for marine biology field trips and diving. Faculty and students initiated the process of getting it preserved as an ecological reserve in 1979:
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/history/rrerhist.htm

and assisted BC Parks in the preparation of the Management plan.
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/planning/mgmtplns/race_rocks/racerock.html

Since that time there has been a continuous record of student, faculty and staff involvement in doing ecological monitoring in the reserve and in student and visitor field trips,
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/education/education.htm

From the 2005 report on State of Ecological Reserves in BC, ” For the past several years the Ministry has regularly stated that it is committed to shared stewardship and partnerships. Such a commitment by the Ministry requires innovative approaches and resources. The Race Rocks Ecological Reserve is clearly exemplary from a shared stewardship, ecological protection, public education and applied research perspective.”
http://www.ecoreserves.bc.ca/newsissues_files/State%20of%20Ecological%20Reserves%202005%20final.pdf

Pearson College has supported student research at Rocks ,
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/research/research.htm

and the faculty and students have assisted outside scientists in research projects there.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/research/researchexternal.htm

Each year it provides boat cover for the Christmas Bird Count by the Victoria Natural History Society.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/seabirds/xmascount/birdcount.htm

A college faculty member, now retired has continued to serve as Ecological Reserve warden for BC Parks since 1980. and in 1997, the college took over full time management of the Ecological Reserve and the island facilities on a long term lease from BC Parks.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/admin/admin.htm

Lester Pearson College has a high level of participation in R&D and energy projects such as the AXYS wind resource assessment buoy testing
http://racerocks.ca/racerock/data/axystest/jdfwindwave.htm
and the Integrated Energy Project involving solar and tidal energy for the Island. http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/energy/tidalenergy/tidalenergy.htm
There is an ongoing program of retrofitting and enhancement of efficiency to the infrastructure through additional solar panel installations; LED and CFL lighting and battery energy storage has resulted in close to 60 % reduction in fuel consumption and resulting emissions.

It has also implemented more efficient water systems and is currently upgrading the composting toilets…

The college has also had an ongoing ecological restoration program for the island in an attempt to mitigate ecological footprint of former operations on the island.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/eco/ecorestore.htm
It has installed and continues to run a weather station:
http://racerocks.ca/racerock/data/weatherlink/Current_Vantage_Pro.htm
and continues the long term daily water temperature and salinity records for monthly submission to IOS.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/abiotic/temperature/seatemperature.htm
A database is maintained with observations from the ecoguardian and volunteers using remote cameras on tagged and branded marine mammals;
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/marmam/sealion/tracking/tracking.htm

In 2000, Pearson College secured a grant from the Millennium foundation for the installation of a LAN on the island and internet connection passing live remote controlled video and audio to the outside world by microwave.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/video5.htm
The college supports the website racerocks.com which is a non-commercial educational site continually being updated by a volunteer with contributions from staff, students, faculty and outside researchers. This website is used worldwide as a distance education tool, with several specific curriculum programs using the resources contained on the website.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/eco/ecoeducation.htm

Ecological features of importance:
The high currents in the area with nutrient laden water lead to a highly productive ecosystem with high biodiversity of Invertebrates, fish and marine algae.
It is a seabird nesting colony for four species, a migratory stopover for countless migrants and overwintering residence for several thousand gulls of several species. It also provides habitat for several species of endangered and listed plants and animals.

It is the largest marine mammal haulout and birthing colony on southern Vancouver Island and a Northern Elephant seal birthing colony,
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/eco/taxalab/nufar.htm

a harbour seal birthing colony,
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/eco/taxalab/damionw.htm

a haulout for a large colony of Northern ( Steller’s) sea lion from August to April,
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/eco/taxalab/nufar.htm

and a haulout for a large colony of California sea lions especially Sept. to December each year.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/eco/taxalab/carolinem.htm

The college has supported research on hydroids by Dr. Anita Brinckmann-Voss leading to the identification of over 65 species of that group of cnidarians, several which are new species records.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/hydroid/anitabv.htm

In the racerocks.com taxonomy files, an inventory featuring all individual species from the island is continually being updated as new photographs, videos and observations are available.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/eco/taxalab/taxonomy.htm

A large bank of video archives also forms a core of the documentation of animals and events on the island,
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/archives.htm

and the Daily Log section provides a record of daily happenings on the island from the viewpoint of the resident ecoguardian, a monthly photo gallery provided by a viewer using the remote camera, and a log of updates to the website of resources for Race Rocks.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/diary/


Geographic features of importance
The archipelago of islands is a unique geographic feature providing optimal exposure in the Strait of Juan de Fuca to diverse elements of wind and currents which lead to a highly biodiverse ecosystem. Its location provides the highest measured upwelling area of the west coast which results in deep water species occurring at a shallow depth and a large biomass of contributed larvae and planktonic species.

The geology:
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/abiotic/geology/geology.htm

and other physical factors of the area are unique as well and provide a special set of habitats to a large number of species.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/eco/ecodata.htm
It is also the most southerly point of Canada on the Pacific Coast.

Cultural features of importance

The island has a historic light station and has hosted generations of pioneering light keeper families who survived under difficult conditions. A year from now, in December 2010, the light tower marks its 150th year as a guiding beacon for those plying the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/history/histam.htm

In recent years, our investigations on the rock mounds on the island have led them to be identified as pre-contact First Nations burial mounds from a culture that thrived in the area from 1000 to 1500 years ago, and then disappeared . In the year 2000 with the assistance of a First Nations elder, we sought the place name for Race Rocks from a another elder, the late Tom Charles , and were granted permission then to use the Klallum name Xwayen, the area of swift flowing water. Race Rocks is essentially in the geographic centre of the Salish Sea. The first peoples of that sea recognized the close relationship between the land and the sea and we have always dedicated on the home page of racerocks.com, an icon which changes with the 13 stages of he moon as recognized by that culture.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/firstnations/first.htm

Human Threats to any of the important features.
The human presence at Race Rocks is a critical component to making this endeavour a success on many levels whether it be safety ; ecological stewardship and restoration; science,  education and research; human activities monitoring. As such, adequate funding levels must be maintained to  a level that will enable these essential activities to continue. To date, Pearson College has been solely responsible for finding the necessary funds to continue operations. It is important that appropriate funding be secured to enable long term sustainability.
There has been a continuation of problematic recreational boaters who view and disturb animals and birds from too close a distance and increase the chance of boat strikes on marine mammals and diving birds. There continues to be on an intermittent basis recreational fishing in the reserve.

There is ongoing concern for boat traffic, noise and effluent that goes with it, speed reduction and viewing distance. Airline overflights continue to cause occasional disruption to the mammal and bird colonies. The implementation of the DFO regulations on Marine wildlife viewing are long overdue. http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/admin/disturbances.htm

The threat of an oil or chemical spill is always possible in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This would be heightened if there is an increase in Juan de Fuca Tanker Traffic and removal of the moratorium on offshore drilling. The disposal of wastes and bilge water from all ships and the increasing onset of Cruise lines operating in the area is a real concern.
http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/admin/ships.htm

The rockfish protection area should be maintained and strengthened so that threats to marine mammals are reduced and stock recovery in the area is enhanced.

Other threats to the area
The human presence at Race Rocks is a critical component to making this endeavour a success on many levels whether it be safety, security, ecological stewardship and restoration, education and scientific research, or monitoring of human activities. As such, funding levels must be maintained to a level that will enable these essential activities to be sustainable. To date, Lester Pearson College has been almost solely responsible for finding the necessary funds to continue operations. It is important that appropriate funding be secured to enable long term sustainability.

A general statement of your vision for the area
Pearson College has provided internet linkage to the resources of the island since 2000. Since it is a small area with a complex set of ecosystems, it is our hope that direct human contact remains minimal, while global access to the resources through the internet remains high.

The commitment of volunteers, faculty, staff and students of Pearson College over the last 30 years in assembling the resources of Race Rocks and then making them available on racerocks.com and racerocks.ca is evidence of how we value maintaining the ecological integrity of the reserve, and wish to continue sharing it with the world. We plan to continue to support the activities and programs currently underway; improve on them and support new activities and endeavours that will add to our understanding and continued protection of the ecosystem.

The College is committed to explore and expand its research and education opportunities available at RR and maintain a long term presence as the custodian of the Ecological Reserve. It will continue to demonstrate the use and integration of sustainable resources and renewable energy with the goal to reduce the emissions from our operations to an absolute minimum.

Since de-staffing of the station by the Coast Guard in 1997, Lester B. Pearson College has hired Ecoguardian staff to be resident on Race Rocks and has raised over $1 million for operating costs at Race Rocks in the past 12 years of operation. Pearson College will continue to employ staff as Ecoguardians and station operators year round. Currently a full time resident marine scientist holds this position.

Why is the Area important to you?

It is important because ultimately it must be possible for all who pass through this part of the Salish Sea must be informed of its unique values and must be committed to allow it to remain a relatively pristine and undisturbed ecosystem. The significant education and research value can endure if Race Rocks Marine Protected area is well supported and locally managed.

RRPAB Meeting #5 November 23, 2010

These are draft minutes..

MEETING NOTES

Race Rocks Public Advisory Board Meeting #5

10:00 – 15:00, 23 November 2010

Pearson College, Victoria, British Columbia

Meeting Goal:

To receive feedback and input for the Race Rocks Public Advisory Board (the Board) in order to move the designation process forward.

 

Objectives:

  1. To update the Board on progress to date
  2. To continue to develop the Conservation Objectives
  3. To receive feedback on the Ecosystem Overview and Assessment Report
  4. To receive feedback on the Socio-Economic Report
  5. To discuss the draft Management Plan / Recommendations Document

.

Attendees:   


Chris Blondeau, Pearson College

Stefan Beckmann, Fisheries & Oceans Canada

Rosaline Canessa, University of Victoria

Chantelle Coulson, Fisheries & Oceans Canada

Garry Fletcher, Race Rocks Ecological Warden

Hilary Ibey, Fisheries & Oceans Canada

Sabine Jessen, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, BC

Gabrielle Kosmider, Fisheries & Oceans Canada

Angus Matthews, Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

Glen Rasmussen, Fisheries & Oceans Canada

Aaron Reith, First Nations Liaison

Tomas Tomascik, Parks Canada Agency


Facilitator: Jessica Delaney – Delaney and Associates Inc.

 

Items for Discussion           

ITEM

1. Welcome – Glen Rasmussen on behalf of Fisheries & Oceans Canada

 

It is recognized that many people may be missing due to the inclement weather and that some key stakeholders may not be present.

Thanks for the use of the traditional First Nations territories.

General Notices

       Board changes: Glen Rasmussen has returned as the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Coordinator, after an 8 month assignment in Enhancement, Hilary Ibey is here as the Marine Planning and Protected Areas Specialist, Stefan Beckmann is here as the DFO Conservation and Protection representative.

       DFO will be sending out a letter to representatives of the commercial fishery

o   how this will impact their fishery

o   the letter will be sent out with a deadline for comments of January 15

o   the letter will also be sent to First Nations Commercial Communal licence holders

§  T’Sou-ke is the only licence holder in the area

       This is the 5th meeting of the RRPAB.

o   There is one more meeting planned before submission of the regulatory package.

o   The 6th meeting will be the last meeting before the regulations go out.

o   Any missing stakeholders will be pursued through bilateral meetings.

o   The RRPAB will have a clear understanding of what the Regulatory Intent will look like.

o   Hopefully, Christie Chute, DFO National Headquarters will be able to attend the final meeting to answer any questions about the regulatory process

§  The regulations themselves are secret – while they are being worked on.

        • DFO is planning to have a meeting once the regulations are Gazetted to make sure that all are “on board”
    • Concern was expressed by a member regarding the past designation process; the regulations that were Gazetted were different than those presented to the RRAB.
    • The focus of this meeting will be Conservation Objectives and Management Plan/ Recommendations document

2. Introductions

            Round table – refer to list of attendees

3. Meeting #4 Agenda

  a. Review

  b. Discuss / amend / approve

       Approved

       A Board Member expressed concern with representation of Board at meeting

o   Absence of Marine Wildlife Viewing, Fishing, and Diving communities.

o   DFO will be pursuing bilateral meetings with those constituencies not represented here today.

4. Meeting #4 Minutes – discuss comments / amend / approve

Review of Action Items:

 

Log Number

Responsible

Action

Status

09-11-01

DFO

Investigate lower than 300m flights over Race Rocks as part of the DFO creel survey. (carried over)

Paul

Cottrell

Email

Read –

done

10-03-04

DFO

DFO is to provide updates the Board on a timely basis, so that they can report to constituents.

done

10-03-07

RRPAB

Board members to prepare a recommendation to state this (w.r.t to Socio-Economic Report)

strike

 

10-03-08

RRPAB

Board members to prepare a recommendation that gaps be identified and prioritized and a commitment be made to research

strike

10-05-01

RRPAB

Board members to review recommendations from Richard Delaney’s summary report and provide feedback – he will then provide all this feedback to DFO.

done

10-05-02

DFO

DFO to request MPAIT provide the RRPAB with a briefing on the updated Marine Protected Areas Strategy

Hilary

update

10-05-03

DFO

DFO to revise draft Vision to reflect Board input.

done

10-05-04

RRPAB

Board to review Incompatible/Compatible Activities document over the next two weeks and provide input to DFO.

done

10-05-05

DFO

DFO to include “What an MPA Regulation looks like” as an agenda item for the next meeting.

done

Minutes from Meeting #4 adopted.

5. First Nations Update

First Nations update

       DFO has met with Chief Andy Thomas of the Esquimalt First Nation.

       Chief Andy Thomas of Esquimalt First Nation has been dealing with environmental contamination of  traditional lands

o   affecting ability to harvest food

o   this is a serious issue

       DFO must be aware and address Douglas Treaty rights in working with local First Nations communities.

       DFO is going to share the MOU (Beecher Bay First Nation, Songhees Nation, T’Sou-ke Nation and DFO) with Esquimalt First Nation, as well as the Terms of Reference for the Government-First Nations Management Board to see whether they would like to be involved in this manner.

       DFO is planning community meetings in the other three Communities

o    Looking for feedback on any concerns, how they use the area, how they want to be involved in the MPA.

       Aaron Reith is back on contract and will continue to act as liaison to with Beecher Bay First Nation, Songhees Nation, and T’Sou-ke Nation; working on the  Terms of Reference and community meetings.

       In response to questions regarding commercial fisheries from RRPAB members, clarification was provided that all fishing is “closed unless open” and Communal Commercial fishing licences are subject to the same rules as any other commercial fishing.

6. Conservation Objectives Discussion – Glen Rasmussen – DFO

  • Please see presentation under separate cover.
  • MPA only covers what is in the water
    • Internal boundary excludes the land.
    • Anything brought in for protection must consider that things could be occurring in the intertidal
    • Protection must be coordinated closely with the provincial Ecological
  • In response to a question of if the Province manages the seabed, how are the organisms on the seabed managed?  Clarification was provided by DFO that all fish are protected under the Fisheries Act.
  •  A Board member expressed concern that there might be gaps in jurisdiction or conflicts over “who controls what”.
  • Clarificationwas provided in response to Board member questions regarding Aboriginal fishing for Food, Social and Ceremonial purposes in a MPA
    • To do this DFO issues an Aboriginal communal fishing licence to the First Nations group
    • Some communities feel they do not need a licence, as they have a treaty (Douglas Treaty)
    • In order to put this into a regulation, DFO must issue a licence
    • DFO is working with legal services on language surrounding this
  • A Board Member expressed that Douglas Treaty rights should be respected and as a Board Member would like to be on record as not supporting this.
  • A Board Member expressed concern with Coast Guard maintenance, DND activities and DFO Creel surveys in MPA
  • Concernwas raised by Board members regarding 60 day advance notice for Activity Plan submissions and need for flexibility.
    • DFO responded by outlining the need for having some way to approve, and record activities that are happening in this area, to be used as a management measure; will increase knowledge of area.
    • Could look at annual submissions by dive community, marine wildlife viewing and educational institutions.
    • There is no cost for applying.
  • A Board Member suggested having this discussion at the next meeting, when Marine Wildlife Viewing might be present
  • A Board member suggested looking at what is being used in other protected areas, in terms of approvals.
  • DFO (Stefan Beckmann) will look at other models (for example Parks Canada) where approvals are issued for protected areas.
  • DFO responded that a process needs to be developed that works for the needs of the Race Rocks MPA, but allows the Conservation Objectives to be met.
  • There must be a way to address cumulative effects.
  • A Board member expressed concern with Reporting of Accidents
    • Feels that 2 hours for reporting is too long
    • DFO can bring this forward to Coast Guard
  • Board Members expressed concern withfollow up reporting for accidents
    • Where are they found?
    • This could be a role for theEcoguardian
      • To liaise and inform what is happening in the MPA.
  • There is an overarching vision for the MPA – especially since Race Rocks is coordinated with the Ecological Reserve
  • The focus, however, because of the structure of the MPA, is on achieving scientifically based Conservation Objectives.
  • It is difficult to to list things, unless they directly impact the Conservation Objectives
  • DFO Science is will be working with the Conservation Objectives to develop Monitoring Objectives.
  • Concern was raised by a Board Member over how bathymetrically unique the area is.
  • A Board Member expressed that the First Order Conservation Objective might be too general
    • Did not express long term goal.
  • A Board Member expressed thatDNDshould be added as an activity to the Incompatible/Compatible activities table
    • DFO responded that DND is not an activity, but a stressor
  • In response to a request byDFO for any other stressors missing from the table, Board members offered.
    • Coast Guard activities
    • College activities
      • Could be positive or negative
    • Vessel traffic from ecotourism needsto be broken down
      • For example – kayakers vs. vessels
    • In response to a Board member’s concern over DND activities, DFO clarified that this could not be managed through regulations, as DND activities will have an exemption, but a cooperative relationship will be continued.
  • Board Members recommended that Renewable Energy be re-termed as Tidal, Wave and Wind Energy.
  • A recommendation was made by a Board Member for DFO to contract the Ecoguardian at Race Rocks to complete the table. 
    • The Values Document should provide some of the information.
  • DFO questioned the Board whether an exemption would be required for the tidal generator
    • If any replacements or removal is anticipated, the activity might not be permitted without an exemption.
  • A Board member brought up underwater camera installations and the Tribal Journeys program as potential considerations.

 

Action Item – 10-11-01 DFO to refer to values input document and synthesize into the compatible/incompatible activities table.

7. Socio-Economic Report – Gabrielle Kosmider – DFO

·       Ryan Murphy and Raisa Mirza have provided a draft Socio-economic Report.

·       Some minor edits are still required, but overall a very good piece of work.

·       In response to a Board Members concern that the Socio-economic Report did not have enough numbers, in terms of economics, growth, etc., DFO clarified that for this MPA, there is not a lot of risk associated with it i.e. there is not a significant cost associated with the regulation.  As a result of this low risk, an extensive Cost-Benefit analysis is not required; instead a more qualitative analysis can be done.

·       In response to a Board Member’s suggestion that this Report be adopted and the Sunderman 2009 Report be discarded, DFO explained that all three Socioeconomic

·       Please submit any comments on the Socio-Economic Report to DFO by January 5, 2011.

8. Ecosystem Overview and Assessment Report – Glen Rasmussen – DFO

       Please refer to presentation under separate cover.

       A Board member expressed concern about the Ecosystem Overview and Assessment report.

o   No plankton studies

o   No mention of work done by Archipelago Marine.

o   No mention of Scott Wallace Abalone work.

o   No mention of River Otters

o   Four elephant seals pups in Spring 2010

o   Concern with Juan de Fuca Strait being used to describe Race Rocks

o   Feels that report needs more development.

9. Management Plan – Recommendations Document – Glen Rasmussen – DFO

  • Please refer to presentation under separate cover.
  • A Board Member stated that the Recommendations do represent consensus of theRRPAB.
    • Feels that the answers provided to the recommendations are not satisfactory
    • Feels that people are looking for guarantees of what the MPA will look like after designation.
    • DFO responded by explaining they have a draft Management Plan; normally this would not be as well developed prior to designation, but it was advanced in order to illustrate where Board recommendations would appear in the Management Plan sections.
  • In response to a Board Member’s questions, DFO explained that the draft Management Plan will evolve as it developed and will involve participaton of the GFNMB, the Province of British Columbia and the public advisory Board.  The Province of British Columbia and First Nations are intended to be on the management Board.  National guidance is to have a stakeholder advisory Board and a management Board.
  • In response to a Board Member’s concern that the Province was/would not be involved in the MPA process, DFO explained that the province leads MPAIT and their involvement is very important, although they might be getting involved at a different level in the process than is apparent to the Board.
  • In response toa question of whyDND fell under the Governance section of the draft Management Plan,DFO explained that the proposed MPA is in the buffer zone of Whiskey Quebec.
    • Board member does not believe that DND has governance over the buffer zone.
  • In response to a Board member’s concern about birds being ignored in the MPA and the absence of Environment Canada, DFO explained that the Conservation Objectives cannot include birds, as they do not fall under the mandate of an Oceans Act MPA, but this does not mean that these objectives cannot be included in how the MPA is intended to be Managed.
  • Some Board Member feedback
    • Education and Outreach needs to be developed
    • The draft Management Plan should include goals for the next 5 years for each section.
      • With a timeframe of some of the activities and measurable for the next 5 years to provide a picture of what is going to be achieved in
    • In realityDFO is seriously underresourced for Surveillance and Enforcement
      • There is a case for 24 hour surveillance in the MPA
      • DFO should make financial commitments to the Ecoguardian; human presence is of great value.

Action Item – 10-11-02 DFO to confirm DND’s governance role in the buffer zone of Whiskey Quebec.

10. Next Meeting / Adjournment

·       The Regulatory Intent package will be the focus of next meeting.

·       DFO is planning on having Christie Chute from DFO National Headquarters attend the next meeting to answer any questions about the regulatory and legislative process. 

·       Next meeting will be held in the early spring.

·       It will be the final meeting before the regulatory intent is finalized

·       Please submit any comments on the draft documents provided to DFO by January 5, 2011.

·       DFO Closing: Thanks.  Board participation is important to the Department.  Thanks to Pearson College for lunch and hosting.

·       Meeting adjourned.

Log Number

Responsible

Action

Status

10-11-01

DFO

DFO to refer to values input document and synthesize into the compatible/incompatible activities table.

 

10-11-02

DFO

DFO to confirm DND’s governance role in the buffer zone of Whiskey Quebec.

 

RRPAB Ecological Overview: Nov 2010 Draft

Race Rocks (XwaYeN)
Proposed Marine Protected Area Ecosystem Overview and Assessment Report
Executive Summary

Background

Race Rocks (XwaYeN), located 17 km southwest of Victoria in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, consists of nine islets, including the large main island, Great Race. Named for its strong tidal currents and rocky reefs, the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) are a showcase for Pacific marine life. This marine life is the result of oceanographic conditions, supplying the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area with a generous stream of nutrients and high levels of dissolved oxygen. These factors contribute to the creation of an ecosystem of high biodiversity and biological productivity.

In 1980, the province of British Columbia, under the authority of the provincial Ecological Reserves Act, established the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. This provided protection of the terrestrial natural and cultural heritage values (nine islets) and of the ocean seabed (to the 20 fathoms/36.6 metre contour line). Ocean dumping, dredging and the extraction of non-renewable resources are not permitted within the boundaries of the Ecological Reserve. However, the Ecological Reserve cannot provide for the conservation and protection of the water column or for the living resources inhabiting the coastal waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as these resources are under the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

The federal government, through the authority of the Oceans Act (1997), has established an Oceans Strategy, which is based on the principles of sustainable development, integrated management and the precautionary approach. Part II of the Oceans Act also provides authority for the development of tools necessary to carry out the Oceans Strategy, tools such as the establishment of Marine Protected Areas. This federal authority will complement the previously established protection afforded the area by the Ecological Reserve, by affording protection and conservation measures to the living marine resources.

Under Section 35 of the Oceans Act, the Governor in Council is authorized to designate, by regulation, Marine Protected Areas (MPA) for any of the following reasons:
the conservation and protection of commercial and non-commercial fishery resources, including marine mammals and their habitats;
the conservation and protection of endangered or threatened species and their habitats;
the conservation and protection of unique habitats;
the conservation and protection of marine areas of high biodiversity or biological productivity; and
the conservation and protection of any other marine resource or habitat as is necessary to fulfill the mandate of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

In 1998, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as one of four pilot Marine Protected Area (MPA) initiatives on Canada’s Pacific Coast. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) meets the criteria set out in paragraphs 35(1) (a), (b) and (d) above. Establishing a MPA within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area will provide for a more comprehensive level of conservation and protection for the ecosystem than can be achieved by an Ecological Reserve on its own. Designating a MPA within the area encompassing the Ecological Reserve will facilitate the integration of conservation, protection and management initiatives under the respective authorities of the two governments.

The Race Rocks (XwaYeN) proposed Marine Protected Area (MPA) is 268.5 hectares in size and encompasses the majority of seamounts surrounding Great Race, the largest of the islets (Figure 1). It is important to note that the selection of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as a proposed MPA preceded the current framework for selecting Areas of Interest (AOI), which requires areas to be identifed as either ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSA), or areas that contain ecologically significant species (ESS). Though Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was not identified through an EBSA or ESS process, the area does provide habitat to ecologically significant species (e.g. Northern abalone, Stellar sea lions) and would likely qualify as an EBSA due to the oceanographic and bathymetric (Figure 2) features and conditions. In future, proposed Marine Protected Areas, now referred to as Areas of Interest (AOI), will be selected through Integrated Management initiatives that employ EBSA and ESS identification methods.

Map RRproposed MPAFigure 1: Race Rocks (XwaYeN) proposed Marine Protected Area with boundary coordinates.

Race Rocks MPA AOI v2 - with bathymetry

Figure 2: Bathymetry surrounding the proposed Race Rocks (XwaYeN) Marine Protected Area.

Additional protection measures have been put in place in and around the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area since 1990, including fisheries closures under the Fisheries Act and restricting all commercial fishing of finfish and shellfish in the area. Recreational harvesting of salmon and halibut and harvesting of non-commercial species continue, but much of that activity was curtailed after the designation of a Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) around Race Rocks (XwaYeN) in 2004. The prohibition of living marine resource harvesting linked to an Oceans Act MPA designation will provide a longer-term commitment to the conservation and protection of the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecosystem.

In 2001, a comprehensive assessment of the physical and biological systems of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was completed by Wright and Pringle (2001). The 2001 report provides an extensive ecological overview describing the geological, physical oceanographic and biological components of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) and the surrounding waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the time. Natural history observations and some traditional knowledge were also included. The following report is a brief update to summarize new information that has been collected in the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area since that time and describe any changes to trends in species distributions and oceanographic conditions. This work is meant to supplement the existing ecological overview (Wright and Pringle 2001).
Ecological Overview of the Area of Interest
Physical Oceanographic Conditions

The Race Rocks (XwaYeN) lighthouse, located on Great Race Island, has recorded daily oceanographic and atmospheric conditions in the Strait of Juan de Fuca for several decades. The lighthouse was initially operated by the Canadian Coast Guard between 1860 and 1997, at which time the lighthouse became automated and Pearson College took over as the custodian. Race Rocks (XwaYeN), while located in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is influenced by the conditions of the Strait of Georgia, particularly the waters flowing from the Fraser River. Freshets from the Fraser River generally result in warmer surface temperatures (warmer waters) and lower surface salinity (Wright and Pringle 2001).

Since 1921, sea surface temperature (SST) has been recorded daily. Wright and Pringle (2001) describe average monthly SST from 1921-1998. Figure 3 compares the average monthly SST (sea surface temperature) from Wright and Pringle (2001) with the average monthly SST over the last eleven years (1999 – 2009). Error bars representing a 95 percent confidence interval have been included for the 1921 – 1998 time series to determine if the average SST temperature over the last eleven years falls within the previously observed range.

Figure 3: Annual cycle of SST at Race Rocks comparing the historic trend with data from the past eleven years.

For most months, with the exception of the late summer and early fall (August, September, October) the average monthly temperatures for the past eleven years have been within the 95 percent confidence interval of previous observations. All monthly averages within the past eleven years have been slightly higher than the historic time series. The months of August, September and October were significantly warmer over the past eleven years than the historic time series. In general, surface temperatures at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) are coolest in the winter months and begin to increase with increased solar exposure due to longer days in the spring and summer.

Salinity data are monitored at the lighthouse and have been since 1936. Wright and Pringle (2001) describe average monthly SST from 1936 -1998. Figure 4 compares the average monthly salinity from Wright and Pringle (2001) with the average monthly salinity over the last eleven years (1999 – 2009). Error bars representing a 95 percent confidence interval have been included for the 1936 – 1998 time series to determine if the average salinity temperature over the last eleven years falls within the previously observed range.

Figure 4: Annual cycle of salinity at Race Rocks comparing the historic trend with data from the past eleven years.

Salinity measurements illustrate two distinct pulses of freshwater into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Changes in salinity in the Strait of Georgia are related to the freshwater output of the Fraser River. With the onset of the spring freshet from the Fraser River, the Strait of Georgia becomes weakly stratified with a surface freshwater lens (Wright and Pringle 2001). The result is a decrease in salinity values from May to July, with a peak discharge of the Fraser River in June. There is a second pulse of decreased salinity in the fall due to runoff from coastal watershed from seasonal precipitation from October to February. Average monthly salinity measurements from the past eleven years are not significantly different from historic monthly salinity measurements.

Biological Systems
The waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) are home to a thriving community of intertidal and subtidal invertebrates, fish, undulating kelp forests as well as many marine mammals such as whales, sea lions, seals and marine birds.
Updates on Plankton

Annual plankton surveys are conducted at fixed stations from the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north end of the Strait of Georgia. However, there is no fixed station at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) nor has there ever been any targeted monitoring for plankton specifically at Race Rocks (XwaYeN). The objective of the annual surveys at the fixed stations is to provide an indication of plankton abundance. Since 1999, observations have been conducted four times a year (April, June, September, and December). Survey timing intentionally corresponds to different discharge levels of the Fraser River. Results from these surveys provide information on nitrate and phytoplankton concentrations, including assemblage composition of phytoplankton based on phytoplankton pigments in the water column. As presented in the 2009 State of Pacific Canadian marine ecosystems report (Crawford and Irvine 2009), the distribution of phytoplankton and nitrate concentrations in the upper 15 metres of the water column in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Strait of Georgia, have been relatively consistent from 2002 to 2008. However, in the spring of 2008, phytoplankton and nitrate concentrations appeared lower in the southern Strait of Georgia in close proximity to Race Rocks while in the fall of 2008, phytoplankton concentrations were significantly higher and nitrate concentrations lower in the Strait of Juan de Fuca when compared with previous years (Crawford and Irvine 2009).

A comprehensive list of phytoplankton and zooplankton species observed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca can be found in Appendix 2 and 3 of Wright and Pringle (2001). Further discussion on the environmental conditions that influence plankton production can be reviewed in Wright and Pringle (2001).
Updates on Invertebrates and Marine Fish

Wright and Pringle (2001) summarized known information on benthic invertebrate communities at various intertidal and subtidal depths as well as the species composition of marine fish found in the waters of the proposed Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA. Since the writing of the ecological overview by Wright and Pringle (2001), studies on the Northern Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana), have continued and are further discussed in this report. Although not previously included in Wright and Pringle (2001), volunteer divers for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation documented occurrences of fish and invertebrate species that are known to exist in the south coast of BC. The REEF program and its findings from the waters surrounding Race Rocks are discussed below.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) provides habitat to a wide variety of invertebrates including the Northern Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana), which was listed as Threatened under SARA in 2003. The Northern Abalone prefers intertidal or subtidal habitat on exposed and semi-exposed rocky shorelines at depths less than 10 m. Abalone surveys in 2005 along the southeast side of Vancouver Island, recorded a density of 0.0098 abalone/m2 for all sites surveyed. More detailed data exists pertaining to the location and results of this survey, but is confidential due to concerns for abalone conservation (i.e. not divulging known locations of abalone populations). This density estimate was drastically lower than estimates from two previous surveys on the southeast side of Vancouver Island that found 0.73 abalone/m2 in 1982 and 1.15 abalone/m2 in 1985, respectively (Adkins 1996). Similar surveys conducted in the San Juan Islands by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife determined that the mean density at index sites was 0.04 abalone/m2 and ranged from 0.082 to 0.000 abalone/m2, including two sites where abalone were extirpated (Rothaus et al. 2008). Abalone stock in this area have declined by more than 98% since the mid-1980s (COSEWIC 2009).

In close proximity to Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is the William Head Penitentiary. Due to access restrictions enforced by a prison, the waters around William Head have resulted in a de facto marine reserve since 1958 (Wallace 1999). Timed surveys at the prison site found 0.77 abalone/min in 1996/97 and <0.1 abalone/min in 2005 suggesting that the abalone population around William Head is also disappearing (COSEWIC 2009). However, density transects were not completed at this site. While the cause of this population decrease may be the result of poaching, this is likely not the case due to the prison’s access restrictions. For this particular location, the most likely reason is simply that the large abalone found during the previous surveys have died and little or no recruitment has taken place (COSEWIC 2009).

Overall, the decline in Northern Abalone populations in the study area appear despite favorable oceanic conditions for abalone recruitment and an abundance of suitable habitat. While low recruitment and poaching have been identified as limiting factors to their recovery (COSEWIC 2009), population declines in this south coast area are believed to be solely due to recruitment failure and likely not due to poaching (J. Lessard pers.comm.). Overall, there is no evidence of population recovery in British Columbia since the fishery closed in 1990 (COSEWIC 2009).

The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) coordinates dive surveys of fish and invertebrates following the Roving Diver Technique (RDT), a non-point visual survey method used by volunteer divers. Three REEF dive sites exist within the proposed Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA boundary: Great Race Rocks, West Race Wall and Rocks, and Rosedale Rocks. Volunteers are trained and examined on fish and invertebrate identification and assigned a designation of “novice” or “expert” as a result of their level of training and test scores. During a dive, volunteers record species observed as well as their abundance category, which is then used to determine a density index. REEF provides guidance and caution as to how to interpret their data. It is noted that the density index should only be used for guidance as the area is not rigorously controlled in the RDT method (REEF 2009).

Since 2001 (total bottom time of 12.5 hours), REEF survey results from Race Rocks (XwaYeN) have included 31 invertebrate species and 19 different species of fish. Table 1 provides a comparison of density and frequency of sightings for the three dive sites at Race Rocks (XwaYeN). Observed species are ranked according to total frequency of sightings across all three sites. The most frequently observed invertebrates were plumose anemone (Metridium senile), red and green urchins (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus and S. droebachiensis), sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) and pink hydrocorals (Stylaster verrilli). The most frequently observed fish were Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus), Lingcod (Ophiodon elongates), Copper Rockfish (Sebastes caurinus), Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops) and Scalyhead Sculpin (Artedius harringtoni). REEF data will be of continued importance for its ability to track new occurrences of species at a specific location. These include China Rockfish (Sebastes neblosus), Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus), Longfin Sculpin (Jordania zonope), and Painted Greenling (Oxylebius pictus). An incentive for volunteer divers communicated by REEF includes the potential for ‘expert’ designated volunteer divers to become part of more rigorous research projects conducted in their area. Researchers noting interesting trends in REEF data may develop survey methodologies and solicit help from the volunteer divers to conduct the surveys necessary. This incentive could potentially be employed for research and/or monitoring purposes.
Updates on Marine Mammals

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is a popular haulout site for pinnipeds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Haulouts are a critical component to the life histories of pinnipeds making them important areas for bearing young, molting and resting. Five species of pinnipeds have been observed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN): Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), harbour seal (Phoca vitulina), northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).

Harbour seals are the most abundant marine mammal at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) with a non-migratory population present year-round. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has the highest concentration of harbour seals on the Canadian side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Populations grew at an annual rate of about 11.5 percent (95 percent confidence interval of 10.9 to 12.6 percent) during the 1970s and 1980s, but the growth rate began to slow in the mid-1990s and the population now appears to have stabilized (Olesiuk 2008). The population estimate for harbour seals in the Strait of Georgia in 2008 was 39,100 (95 percent confidence interval of 33,200 to 45,000) (Olesiuk 2008).

Elephant seals occasionally migrate into the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as their most northerly recorded haulout and have been noted to use the site as a haulout for moulting. Elephant seals normally breed in Baja (Mexico) or California, however, in January 2009 the first elephant seal pup was born on Great Race (REF???).

California sea lions, subadult and adult males, use Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as a winter haulout site between September and May. Abundance of California sea lions off southern Vancouver Table 1: Comparison of fish and invertebrate sightings at three dive sites within the marine component of the Race Rocks Area of Interest between 2001 & 2009. SF% is a measure of how frequently a species was observed and indicates the percentage of time out of all the surveys that the species was observed. DEN is an average measure of how many individuals were observed based on a scale of 1-4.
Rank
Common Name
Scientific Name
Total
Great Race Rock
West Race Wall & Rocks
Rosedale Rocks
SF%DENSF%DENSF%DENSF%DEN1Kelp GreenlingHexagrammos decagrammus85.72.771.42.6902.91002.32Red Sea UrchinStrongylocentrotus franciscanus853.783.33.4803.91003.83Plumose AnemoneMetridium senile/Metridium farcimen803.883.33.8703.91003.54Sunflower StarPycnopodia helianthoides752.183.32602.210025Green Sea UrchinStrongylocentrotus droebachiensis753.183.33803.3502.56Pink HydrocoralStylaster verrilli/S. venustus751.1501801.110017LingcodOphiodon elongatus71.41.842.92801.81001.88Giant BarnacleBalanus nubilus703.9503.370410049Gumboot ChitonCryptochiton stelleri702.866.73602.81002.510Copper RockfishSebastes caurinus66.71.842.92901.8501.511Orange Cup CoralBalanophyllia elegans603.933.34803.950412Black RockfishSebastes melanops57.11.828.61701.975213Orange Social AscidianMetandrocarpa taylori/dura55150160150114Scalyhead SculpinArtedius harringtoni52.42.542.92.3602.5502.515CabezonScorpaenichthys marmoratus47.61.357.11.3401.3501.516Leafy HornmouthCeratastoma foliatum452.333.32.5402.575217Rock ScallopCrassedoma giganteum452.433.32.5502.250318California Sea CucumberParastichopus californicus402.516.71502.8502.519Orange Sea CucumberCucumaria miniata402.8503302.7502.520Leather StarDermasterias imbricata401.833.31.5401.850221Quillback RockfishSebastes maliger38.11.942.92301.750222Juvenile (YOY) Rockfish – UnidentifiedSebastes sp.38.12.442.92302.350323Oregon TritonFusitriton oregonensis352.716.73402.8502.524Coonstripe ShrimpPandalus danae/P. gurneyi351.950230225125Fish-eating AnemoneUrticina piscivora252.633.33302.326Shiny Orange Sea SquirtCnemidocarpa finmarkiensis252.2202752.327Fringed Tube WormDodecaceria fewkesi250.8400.825128Longfin SculpinJordania zonope23.82.214.32302.325229Opalescent NudibranchHermissenda crassicornis202104751.330Northern AbaloneHaliotis kamtschatkana201.333.31.520131Spiny Pink StarPisaster brevispinus201.816.7120225232Red Irish LordHemilepidotus hemilepidotus191.5201.5501.533Strawberry AnemoneCorynactis californica15133.3110134Giant Pacific OctopusOctopus dofleini151.716.7110225235Yellow Margin DoridCadlina luteomarginata151.716.72201.536White-spotted AnemoneUrticina lofotensis153.716.7310425437Wolf-EelAnarrhichthys ocellatus14.31.728.61.510238Painted GreenlingOxylebius pictus14.3228.6210239Puget Sound RockfishSebastes emphaeus14.32.314.32202.540Candy Stripe ShrimpLebbeus grandimanus101.510225141Northern Feather Duster Worm Eudistylia vancouveri10120142Moon JellyAurelia aurita/labiata101.5201.543Longfin GunnelPholis clemensi9.5150144Lacy BryozoanPhidolopora labiata5410445Giant NudibranchDendronotus iris5210246Blackeye GobyRhinogobiops nicholsi4.8210247Unidentified Sculpin4.8114.3148China RockfishSebastes neblosus4.8225249Grunt SculpinRhamphocottus richardsoni4.8114.3150Rock GreenlingHexagrammos lagocephalus4.8214.32
Island increased dramatically during the 1970`s and early 1980s, with a peak count of about 4,500 in 1984. Although the species has continued to expand its range northward, wintering numbers as of 2004 have slowly declined to about one-third of their peak numbers (Olesiuk 2004).

The Steller sea lion was listed as a Special Concern species under SARA in 2003. Although their numbers are increasing, they are sensitive to human disturbance while on land. The abundance of Steller sea lions in BC has increased at an overall rate of 3.5 percent per year since the early 1970s (DFO 2008). Based on estimated pup production and a range of multipliers derived from life table statistics, it was calculated that at least 20,000 and as many as 28,000 Steller sea lions currently inhabit coastal waters of BC (DFO 2008). Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is not a breeding site but is used as a haulout site during the non-breeding season, September to May. Both male and female Steller sea lions from all age-classes, except newborn pups, can be found on Race Rocks (XwaYeN) (Demarchi and Bentley 2004). Protection of year-round and winter haulout sites is listed as an action item in the Steller sea lion management plan (Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2008).

A single Northern fur seal was observed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) by the lighthouse keeper between 1974 and 1982 (Wright and Pringle 2001). Although Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is within their North America range, there have only been incidental occurrences recorded at Race Rocks (XwaYeN).

Surveys were conducted on pinnipeds and marine birds at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) by LGL Ltd. for the 14 month period between October 2002 and November 2003 (52 monitoring sessions) (Demarchi et al 1998). The purpose of this study was to document how Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was being utilized by these organisms and how they were impacted by human disturbance (i.e., from boats, planes and military blasting). The report identified blasting as a cause of displacement for Steller sea lions and California sea lions from their haulout site. California sea lions were also sensitive to displacement by pleasure boats and foot traffic. LGL’s study expanded on a previous study (Demarchi et al 1998) which only examined the impacts of military blasting, by looking at other anthropogenic disturbances.

Update on Birds

A list of 45 species of birds observed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was included in Appendix 6 of the assessment report written by Wright and Pringle (2001). This list was compiled from data collected by the Wardens logs (1997-1999), unpublished data from Pearson College students and the 1997 Christmas Bird Count. Since 1997, volunteers for Bird Studies Canada have conducted an Annual Sooke Christmas Bird Count at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) over the course of one day, held during the Christmas week. This survey takes a snapshot of the number of winter bird species present and their relative abundance. The information is collected, amassed into a central database and used to monitor the status of resident and migratory birds over time from over 2000 localities across Canada, the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Birds counted during the 1997 to 2007 Christmas Bird Counts at Race Rocks (XwaYeN), including birds observed within the MPA boundaries, are presented in raw data format in Table 2. Gulls and alcids represent the most common groups of birds observed. Data collected from the Christmas Bird Count can be used in a time series to document changes in species composition and note new species observed in the area. The number of different bird species reported by the Christmas Bird Count within the MPA has increased from 45 species (as documented in Wright and Pringle 2001) to 64 species. Unfortunately, the one day enumeration does not provide enough information to conduct a detailed analysis of bird populations for this one location. Weather conditions have varied over the years, including Table2: Bird species documented during the Annual Christmas Bird Count at Race Rocks and the surrounding waters. No survey completed in 2003 & 2008 due to poor weather conditions. Surveyors did not land on Great Race in 2007 due to weather conditions.
Common NameScientific Name 199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008Double Crested CormorantPhalacrocorax auritus1413388580607920006Brandt’s Cormorant’s Phalacrocorax penicillatus8141266032073510009505Pelagic CormorantPhalacrocorax pelagicus14420141220110202042Common MurreUria aalge62060001940360021600450045Black OystercatcherHaematopus bachmani641712516391635220Black TurnstoneArenaria melanocephala27302551618254552SurfbirdAphriza virgata22003613000Rudy TurnstoneArenaria interpres1000000000SanderlingCalidris alba1000000012Pigeon GuillemotCepphus columba12536800002Marbled MurreletBrachyramphus marmoratus000600660Ancient MurreletSynthliboramphus antiquus01220034201200246Pacific LoonGavia pacifica030614404004Common LoonGavia immer0010100401Red Throated LoonGavia stellata1100000001Canada GooseBranta canadensis0000001820200Harlequin DuckHistrionicus histrionicus23646923043070Long-tailed duckClangula hyemalis0000000003BuffleheadBucephala albeola002412360090065Surf ScoterMelanitta perspicillata1800030661044Common GoldeneyeBucephala clangula0000000004White winged ScoterMelanitta deglandi14150000000Red-breasted merganserMergus serrator0000000007Common MerganserMergus merganser0000000007Hooded MerganserLophodytes cucullatus0000000004Red-necked grebePodiceps grisegena0100000408Western GrebeAechmophorus occidentalis0000000019Mew GullLarus canus2351200891512004400808040Thayer’s GullLarus thayeri390213482205302000450600220010Herring GullLarus argentatus30238120140Ring-billed GullLarus delawarensis0000001000Iceland GullLarus glaucoides0000100010California GullLarus californicus0000020000Western GullLarus occidentalis0212110010Glaucous Winged GullLarus glaucescens83401516172080017515010015Bonapartes GullChroicocephalus philadelphia000000006500Rhinocerous AukletCerorhinca monocerata1000000000MerlinFalco columbarius0010000000Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus0000010011Bald Eagle,Immat.Haliaeetus leucocephalus381311202135Bald Eagle, adultHaliaeetus leucocephalus5415403132KilldeerCharadrius vociferus0010000000Rock SandpiperCalidris ptilocnemis0068950000Black Bellied PloverPluvialis squatarola0001000000Red-necked PhalaropePhalaropus lobatus000001140000American PipitAnthus rubescens0000001000European StarlingSturnus vulgaris07083804350Song SparrowMelospiza melodia0400033100Savannah SparrowPasserculus sandwichensis0402000000North Western CrowCorvus caurinus73010001000Brown PelicanPelecanus occidentalis0000000010Great Blue HeronArdea herodias0000000002199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008Species Count/Year5151515051510515151510
some years where conditions were too stormy to complete the survey (1993) or land the boat at Great Race for the terrestrial portion of the survey (2007). In addition, high wind speeds and wave heights have resulted in low bird counts in some years (1998, 2005, and 2007). Conducting wintertime bird census is challenging at Race Rocks due to prevailing southeast winter winds and variable seas. However surveys at this time of year are valuable as they take into account migratory species that overwinter along BC’s coast.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has been surveyed for pelagic cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) nests every few years since 1955 as part of a larger assessment of the South Coast by the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment. In 1987, 120 nest sites were observed (Chatwin et al. 2001), and in 1989, 152 nests were observed (Vermeer 1992). In 2009, T. Chatwin and H. Carter surveyed for breeding cormorants in the Strait of Georgia, however zero were observed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) (T. Chatwin pers. comm.). Cormorant nesting studies have shown a 54 percent decrease in number of nest observed in the Strait of Georgia between 1987 to 2000 (Chatwin et al. 2001). This decline could be due to changes in prey availability (Pacific herring, gunnels, shiner perch and salmon), predation by other birds (eagles, crows and gulls) and/or disturbance from boat traffic (REF???).

Glaucous-winged gulls (Larus glaucescens) also nest at Race Rocks (XwaYeN), though the population has declined since its peak in the 1980s (L. Blight pers. comm.). Their nesting activity has been monitored by UBC researchers, and in 1989, 424 nests were observed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) (K. Morgan pers. comm.). Surveys completed in 2009 at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) by Louise Blight (UBC), Chris Blondeau (Pearson College) and Adam Harding (Pearson College) reported 115 nests on Great Race and zero on the other islands (L. Blight pers comm).

Pigeon Guillemots (Cepphus columba) and Black oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) also use Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as a breeding site however there has been no direct monitoring of their nesting success.

Recent Ecological Studies

In addition to this and the assessment report by Wright and Pringle (2001), ecological studies have been completed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) to primarily answer either scientific research questions or provide an educational opportunity for students. Any and all research or educational activities that take place in the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecological reserve require a permit issued by BC Parks. Pearson College acts on behalf of the province of BC, as custodians of the Ecological Reserve, administering research permits and monitoring access to Rack Rocks (XwaYeN). Research conducted on Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is detailed on the External Research page on the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) website ( HYPERLINK “http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/research/researchexternal.htm” http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/research/researchexternal.htm) and is summarized in Table 3.

Table 3: Scientific Research Activities that have taken place at Race Rocks (from racerocks.com)
TIMELINE
ORGANIZATION
RESEARCH SUMMARY
1996 – 2004
Pearson College
Inventories of the tidepools on Great Race by students
Measurements of physical and chemical properties of the tidepools
2000
Pearson College
Analysis of the ecological niche of an anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima
2000
Pearson College
Study of the factors that affect intertidal zonation of a marine algae, Halosaccion glandiforme
2002Pearson CollegeDevelopment of a digital herbarium featuring images of over 40 species of marine algae
HYPERLINK “http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/algae/ryanmurphy/total.htm” http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/algae/ryanmurphy/total.htm
2002
Duke University
Collection site for PhD thesis on the systematics and evolution of hydrocorals using morphological and molecular biology
This work established that there is no genetic variation in colour morphs of purple and pink Stylaster corals (Allopora)
2002
Pearson College
Student directed study on the epiphytic community of a marine algae, Pterygophora californica
2003
LGL Ltd.
Assess the effects of natural and human-caused disturbances on marine birds and pinnipeds at Race Rocks over a 14 month period
2004
University of Victoria
Conducted field experiments exploring suspension feeders’ nutritional ecology and the role of dissolved substance as a food source for marine organisms
2005
Pearson College
Installation of automated weather station
2005
EnCana
Began installation of demonstration tidal power generation project
2006
Archipelago Marine Research Ltd.
Monitoring the impact of the tidal turbine generator, including the various stages of construction
2008
University of British Columbia
Master’s research developing a model-based approach to investigate Killer Whale exposure to marine vessel engine exhaust
Results demonstrate that wind angle had the largest effect on killer whale exposure to CO and NO2 and that the exposure levels to pollutants that occasionally exceeded the Metro Vancouver Air Quality Objectives (i.e. with low wind speeds, and mixing heights)
2009
AXYS Technologies
Deployed wind resource assessment buoy
Designed to assist offshore wind farm developers in determining the available wind resources at potential wind farm sites
2009
Pearson College
Assessment of the power generated by the tidal turbine generator at various current speeds

Potential or Existing Trends in Environmental Conditions

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is a series of islets that create a complex habitat along the seafloor resulting in an area of high species richness. However, it does not exist in isolation and is surrounded on one side by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia on the other side and influenced by the larger northeastern Pacific Ocean. The waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) are not immune to environmental forcers. Environmental forcers are potential or existing environmental conditions that have a significant influence on the environmental quality of the region.
Changes to global and regional climate

The climate in British Columbia has changed over the last 50 years, with average air temperature becoming higher in many areas (BC Ministry of Environment 2006). Changes have occurred in several aspects of the atmosphere and surface that alter the global energy budget of the Earth (Solomon et al. 2007). The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the national science academies of eleven nations, including Canada and the United States, have recognized that the Earth’s atmosphere is warming and that human activities that release greenhouse gases are an important cause (BC Ministry of Environment 2006). Although several of the major greenhouse gases occur naturally, increases in their atmospheric concentrations over the last 250 years are due largely to human activities (Solomon et al 2007). These gases include methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2). The concentration of atmospheric CO2 has increased from a pre-industrial value of about 280 ppm to 379 ppm in 2005 (Solomon et al 2007). The increase in greenhouse gases warms the atmosphere and affects the temperature of air, land, and water, as well as patterns of precipitation, evaporation, wind, and ocean currents. The rate of warming averaged over the last 50 years (0.13°C ± 0.03°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years (Solomon et al 2007). Climate change impacts on the ocean include sea surface temperature-induced shifts in the geographic distribution of marine biota and compositional changes in biodiversity, particularly at higher latitudes (Gitay et al 2002). Sea surface temperature can influence life processes in marine organisms such as recruitment, growth and activity rates.

Observed warming over several decades has been linked to changes in the large-scale hydrological cycle such as: increasing atmospheric water vapour content; changing precipitation patterns, intensity and extremes; reduced snow cover and widespread melting of ice; and changes in soil moisture and runoff (Bates et al 2008). Simulations of greenhouse-warming scenarios in midlatitudinal basins of the United States, predict shorter winter seasons, larger winter floods, drier and more frequent summer weather, and overall enhanced and protracted hydrologic variability (Loaiciga et al 1996). Pressures to the Georgia Basin as a result of climate change include continued increases in air and sea surface temperature (SST), and changes in precipitation rates and sea-level in the region (REF???). This will be characterized by less rainfall in the summer and heavier rainfalls and frequent storms in the late fall and winter. These changes in the hydrological cycle will impact the Fraser River, a watershed fed by snowpack. Changes to the freshwater output will also alter salinity levels in the Georgia Basin. Reduction in the snowpack will alter the output of the Fraser River in the summer months. It has not been determined whether or not climate change will also amplify the effects of existing ocean-atmospheric cyclic weather patterns, such as El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (Folland et al 2001, McPhaden et al 2006). Both of these weather patterns produce cycles of cold, productive ocean conditions and warm, less productive ocean conditions, both of which have been observed and documented for decades.

The result of climate change on the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecosystem is expected to be increased stress on many of the organisms that are found there. Changes in the timing and volume of freshwater runoff will affect salinity, sediment and nutrient availability, as well as moisture regimes in coastal ecosystems (Bates et al 2008). This will alter the range of habitat available and community structure at Race Rocks (XwaYeN). Sea surface temperature is correlated closely with the structure of intertidal communities, and thermal or desiccation stress caused by elevated air temperatures can have strong effects on intertidal biota, particularly in the upper intertidal (Barry et al 1995). Intertidal sites that are exposed to greater temperature and salinity extremes may become unfavourable. It is not known how fluctuations in these water properties will impact subtidal organisms. Changes in oceanic temperature and circulation patterns cause changes in production of the phytoplankton (single-celled algae) that form the base of the oceanic food chain (BC Ministry of Environment 2006). Changes to production of phytoplankton may impact organisms that feed in the waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait. Rising sea-levels and increased storm activity caused by climate change has the potential to alter the shape and size of the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) archipelago. The analysis of sea level records shows that relative sea levels have been rising in Vancouver and Victoria at a rate of 3.1 cm/50 years (BC Ministry of Environment 2006). Islands are important refuge sites for both pinnipeds and birds. The alteration of the available shoreline could potentially reduce the area available for pinnipeds to haulout for moulting, breeding and resting. Changes in island size may also impact the area available as nesting sites for breeding birds.

El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle is the strongest natural variation of Earth’s climate on year-to-year time scales, affecting physical, biological, chemical, and geological processes in the oceans, in the atmosphere and on land (McPhaden et al 2006). The ENSO cycle consists of alternating warm El Niño and cold La Niña events. El Niño occurs due to changes that are not fully understood in the normal patterns of trade wind circulation in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Under normal conditions, trade winds move eastward along the equator, carrying warm surface water to northern Australia and Indonesia and causing upwelling of cooler water along the South American coast. For reasons not yet fully understood, these trade winds can sometimes be reduced, or even reversed. The result of this reversal produces warmer surface waters off the coast of North and South America. These warmer waters move northward along the Pacific coast of North America and push cooler, productive water below it producing an El Niño event. La Niña occurs when the reverse atmospheric and oceanographic conditions are present and results in cooler, nutrient rich waters along the Pacific coast.

Since the 1990s there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of El Niño events. Table 4 identifies conditions on the Pacific coast of North America from 1950 – 2007 as either a strong or weak El Niño or La Niña or as a neutral year in which the Southern Oscillation did not have a strong impact on weather conditions. The multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (Figure 5) is used by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to monitor the Southern Oscillation. The index measures the observed departure from a standardized value for six variables: sea-level pressure, zonal and meridional components of the surface wind, sea surface temperature, surface air temperature, and total cloudiness fraction of the sky. Measurements are taken from locations across the tropical Pacific. El Niño years are characterized by positive MEI values and La Niña years are characterized by negative MEI values.

Table 4: Account of ENSO for El Niño and La Niña Years 1950-2007
HYPERLINK “http://www.smc-msc.ec.gc.ca/education/elnino/comparing/enso1950_2002_e.html” http://www.smc-msc.ec.gc.ca/education/elnino/comparing/enso1950_2002_e.html
Year
Classification
Year
Classification
Year
Classification
1950-51
Moderate La Niña
1970-71
Moderate La Niña
1990-91
Weak El Niño
1951-52
Neutral
1971-72
Neutral
1991-92
Strong El Niño
1952-53
Weak El Niño
1972-73
Moderate El Niño
1992-93
Weak El Niño
1953-54
Neutral
1973-74
Strong La Niña
1993-94
Neutral
1954-55
Moderate La Niña
1974-75
Weak La Niña
1994-95
Weak El Niño
1955-56
Moderate La Niña
1975-76
Moderate La Niña
1995-96
Weak La Niña
1956-57
Neutral
1976-77
Weak El Niño
1996-97
Neutral
1957-58
Strong El Niño
1977-78
Weak El Niño
1997-98
Strong El Niño
1958-59
Weak El Niño
1978-79
Neutral
1998-99
Moderate La Niña
1959-60
Neutral
1979-80
Weak El Niño
1999-2000
Strong La Niña
1960-61
Neutral
1980-81
Neutral
2000-01
Neutral
1961-62
Neutral
1981-82
Neutral
2001-02
Neutral
1962-63
Neutral
1982-83
Strong El Niño
2002-03
Moderate El Niño
1963-64
Weak El Niño
1983-84
Weak La Niña
2003-04
Neutral
1964-65
Weak La Niña
1984-85
Weak La Niña
2004-05
Neutral
1965-66
Moderate El Niño
1985-86
Neutral
2005-06
Neutral
1966-67
Neutral
1986-87
Moderate El Niño
2006-07
Weak El Niño
1967-68
Neutral
1987-88
Weak El Niño

1968-69
Moderate El Niño
1988-89
Strong La Niña

1969-70
Weak El Niño
1989-90
Neutral

Figure 5: Time series of the MEI during winter. Negative values of the MEI represent La Niña events, while positive MEI values represent El Niño events. (NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory: HYPERLINK “http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd//people/klaus.wolter/MEI/” http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd//people/klaus.wolter/MEI/)

During El Niño years some unusual species have been observed on the BC Coast. Migratory species that prefer warmer water such as Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) and Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) are observed farther north than usual (DFO 2006). El Niño years have produced greater than average precipitation in the winter, and lower than average precipitation in the summer (Meteorological Services Canada 2009). Although this results in greater than average precipitation, the average air temperature is warmer resulting in more rain than snow and an overall reduction in the local snowpack. For watersheds that are fed by snowmelt (such as the Fraser River) El Niño years will result in lower water levels during the summer months.

La Niña often produces climate impacts that are roughly opposite to those of El Niño (McPhaden et al 2006). For British Columbia this will result in a colder winter with above average precipitation, in the form of snowfall. During La Niña years there is increased productivity of the ocean caused by upwelling of colder, nutrient rich water along the continental slope.

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a term used to describe decadal-scale pattern of variability in the North Pacific basin. The PDO index (Mantua et al 1999) is based on the results obtained from principal components analysis of mean monthly sea surface temperature anomalies over the North Pacific Ocean averaged into 5° grids since 1900 (DFO 2006). PDO is a decadal-scale oscillation in the North Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) with alternating positive and negative phases that have lasted 20–30 years during the 20th Century (Hollowed et al 2001). The PDO signal is strongest in the North Pacific and like ENSO will produce oceanographic conditions with high productivity, though not on a global scale. The PDO can produce regional changes to prey composition and availability along the Pacific coast. Pacific salmon and selected flatfish stocks show production patterns that are consistent with the oscillations of the PDO (Hollowed et al 2001). This pattern is evident in trends of abundance for pelagic species such as sardines that are found to have successful years in the North Pacific while populations further south are struggling (Chavez et al 2003).

These changes in prey composition and availability will impact the higher trophic level species, such as pinnipeds and birds found in the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN).

‘Natural’ changes in species composition

Marine ecosystems are dynamic and must respond to fluctuations in available resources. Natural changes in species composition reflect the resilience of the ecosystem and are not necessarily a sign of detrimental impacts to the ecosystem. Natural changes can include changes to prey composition, availability and seasonality. These natural fluctuations often impact several trophic levels in the food web by either a reduction in prey availability or an absence of a preferred prey type.

Northern elephant seals birthing pups at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) in 2009 and 2010 may be an example of natural changes in species composition as the most northern rookery for Northern elephant seals was previously considered to be in central California. However, it is not known at this time if this is a significant expansion in breeding range or an anecdotal occurrence involving a few animals. It is also not known if there are any other occurrences of Northern elephant seals breeding north of their known range along the West Coast of North America.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are organisms that are not native to a region. They may have been intentionally introduced for commercial reasons (e.g., Pacific oysters, Crassostrea gigas and Manila clams, Venerupis philippinarum) or they may have been unintentionally introduced through ballast water from ocean-going vessels (e.g., Green crab, Carcinus maenas) seafood packaging (e.g. Sargassum) or other vectors of transmission. All introduced species require a vector or mode of transmission and pathways (routes taken) of invasion. Common vectors of transmission include ballast water and hull fouling from ocean-going vessels, derelict ships, and shellfish aquaculture. It has been estimated that over 117 alien invasive species have established populations in the Strait of Georgia or along its shoreline (Transport Canada 2009a).

Not all introductions result in the establishment of an invasive species. Successful invaders are able to easily adapt to different environmental conditions and compete with native species for food and habitat. Often, introduced species do not have a natural predator in their new environment and are capable of taking over the ecosystem niche of another organism. Invasive species can reduce or destroy ecosystem functions and habitat. Species introductions cause biodiversity loss, can be detrimental to native populations and create vulnerable ecosystems.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is located in close proximity to a major shipping lane for vessels destined to Vancouver or Seattle, both of which are busy seaports. Transmission of invasive species by ballast water may still be a threat to the area in spite of recent regulations for ballast water exchange due to non-compliance. The majority of the established invasive species on the coast of BC prefer sheltered waters with low wave energy such as lagoons or estuaries. Examples of successful invasions include clubbed tunicate (Styela clava) and violet star tunicate (Botrylloides violaceus), both of which are problem species for shellfish aquaculture operations. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is located in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is exposed to high energy waves making it an unlikely place of establishment. Although invasive species are a threat to all marine environments, the physical characteristics of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) make establishment of an invasive species challenging.

Human Significance of the Protected Features

The area has cultural significance to local First Nations. The XwaYeN (Race Rocks) area is claimed traditional territory for at least four Coast Salish First Nations people; Beecher Bay First Nation, T’Sou-ke Nation, Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation. The term “XwaYen” is from the Klallem language for the place called Race Rocks. The nutrient rich waters of this area provides a wide diversity of food fishing opportunities year round for First Nations. XwaYeN (Race Rocks) is believed to be the gateway to the Salish Sea and is seen as an icon of the region, ecosystem and traditional territories of the Salish people.

Since 1977, faculty, students and staff at Pearson College have been involved with Race Rocks (XwaYeN). The college is committed to explore and expand its research and education opportunities available at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as well as maintain a long term presence as the custodian of the Ecological Reserve. While the area has typically been used for marine biology research and field trips, diving and assisting other researchers to the area, effort has been directed by the college towards ecological restoration to mitigate the ecological footprint from former operations. In addressing the concern about environmental impacts from site visits during the 1980s and 1990s, a website was launched in 2000 to support non-commercial education through live streaming video (www.racerocks.com).

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) provides opportunities for recreational activities as well as public awareness and education on its unique ecological features. Its close proximity to urban areas means that Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is independently accessed by the public for boating, fishing, diving and wildlife viewing. Boaters may use the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as a thoroughfare to other areas, shelter from the elements, a reference point for navigation or a general point of interest. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has been recognized as an important sport fishing destination since western settlement with anglers seeking Pacific salmon, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, prawns and crabs. Since 1900, Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has gained worldwide attention by divers for its marine diversity as well as its walls, pinnacles, crevices and high currents. While divers enjoy the underwater ecosystem, tourists and researchers to the area have engaged in marine wildlife viewing, typically between the months of April to October. The important tidal upwelling due to the unique bathymetric features at Race Rocks (XwaYeN), acts as a haven for a significant assortment of flora and fauna.

Changes to Ecosystem Management Since 2001

Race Rocks was designated an Ecological Reserve in 1980 by the BC Government. Under the Ecological Reserve designation only non-consumptive use is permitted. The area is closed to both commercial and recreational fisheries by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). In September 1998 Race Rocks was proposed as a Pilot MPA (Area of Interest) by DFO.

In 2003 the Species at Risk Act was enacted by the federal government. This legislation protects species at risk and their critical habitat. The Act also requires the development of a recovery and management plans. These documents outline short-term and long-term goals for protecting and recovering species at risk. Race Rocks is home to two species that have been listed under SARA: 1)Northern Abalone (threatened), and 2) Steller sea lion (special concern). Transient killer whales (threatened) have also been observed in the area.

In 2004 Race Rocks became a Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA), and part of the network that consists of 164 sites coast-wide. RCAs were designed to protect inshore rockfish and lingcod and their habitat from recreational and commercial fishing pressures. The RCA designation prohibits any fishing activities (both recreational and commercial) that would harm rockfish stocks. Race Rocks was selected as a RCA because the island and surrounding seabed were already listed as an Ecological Reserve and the complex geography of the area provides ideal habitat for inshore rockfish. Figure 5 shows the boundaries of the RCA to the 40 m depth contour line.

Assessment of the Area of Interest
Conservation Objectives

Based upon our knowledge of the area and results of consultations, the conservation objectives below were developed, in order to identify the ecological features requiring protection in the Rocks (XwaYeN) proposed MPA.

The 1st order conservation objective for Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is proposed as:

To protect and conserve an area of high biological productivity and biodiversity, providing habitat for fish and marine mammals, including threatened and endangered species.

The 2nd order conservation objectives for Race Rocks (XwaYeN) would be:

Impacts from human activities in the area will not compromise the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem function of the Race Rocks Marine Protected Area.
Build a knowledge base to define and understand biodiversity and ecosystem function using best science and TEK/LEK.
Monitor biodiversity and ecosystem function.
Monitor and evaluate management effectiveness to ensure management is contributing toward achievement of the overarching Conservation Objective.

Pressures from human activities in or near the proposed Marine Protected Area (MPA)

Wildlife enthusiasts travel to Race Rocks (XwaYeN) to experience the diverse marine life the area has to offer. While tourism activities, such as diving, whale watching, wildlife viewing and boating are common and beneficial activities to Race Rocks (XwaYeN), they can have adverse effects on the marine environment and the inhabitants. Whether intentional or unintentional, recreational activities in this area may result in animal harassment by altering their natural movements through the water and on land. In addition, illegal fishing within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecological reserve by recreational boaters may be an issue.

The Department of National Defence’s (DND) military buffer zone for the WQ (Whiskey Quebec) military training area is partially located in the waters of the proposed Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA. While training activities do not take place within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA boundary, Bentinck Island, located approximately 2 km to the North, is a training site for the use of explosives for the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt. Studies have been conducted on Race Rocks (XwaYeN) to document the impact of blasting and other anthropogenic disturbances on the marine mammals and birds (Demarchi et al 1998, Demarchi & Bentley 2004). Their results found that Steller sea lions had the greatest sensitivity to blasting of all the species monitored and Northern elephant seals were the most tolerant. Among sea birds, cormorants appeared to be more sensitive to blasting than gulls or pigeon guillemots. Some mitigation measures have been proposed to reduce the impact of blasting at Bentinck Island. These include a reduction of the number of blasts during the harbour seal pupping season (June through September), attempting to muffle the sound of the blast by surrounding the charge with sand bags and evaluating the feasibility of a new blasting site on Bentinck Island. In addition to noise, blasting may expose the marine environment to toxic minerals that are found in the explosives.

Vessel traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca poses a threat to the ecosystem of Race Rocks (XwaYeN). Juan de Fuca Strait vessel traffic zones have the highest traffic volumes in BC (BC Ministry of Environment 2006). The BC government, in response to oil spills in Washington and Alaska, completed a coastal inventory and shoreline oil sensitivity mapping analysis. The Ministry of Environment developed the BC Marine Oil Spill Prevention and Preparedness Strategy and the BC Marine Oil Spill Response Plan (BC Ministry of Environment 2007). This work has identified the level of risk for different habitat types and regions of the coast as well as established a framework for an integrated response to an oil spill. Due to Race Rocks (XwaYeN) location and proximity to shipping lanes, the islets are susceptible to oil spills. However, the shoreline of southwest Vancouver Island has been classified as low sensitivity to long-term impacts from an oil spill.

Trans-oceanic vessels in the Strait of Juan de Fuca also pose a threat to the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecosystem through ballast water exchange, as this has been documented as a vector for invasive species. In 2006, Transport Canada developed ballast water regulations as part of the Canadian Ballast Water Program that require vessels to exchange their ballast water in the open ocean before they arrive at a Canadian port (Transport Canada 2009b). All vessels are required to document the ballast content and the locations were they have exchanged ballast water.

Other threats to the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecosystem include aerial over flights that may disturb pinnipeds and birds. Pollution from industrial, agricultural and residential sources will also have an impact on the marine environment. Increased development in the Victoria area and recent interest by the public in marine conservation issues has increased the awareness and interest in Race Rocks (XwaYeN). This increased interest could cause increased pressures as more members of the public visit Race Rocks (XwaYeN).

Activities that may be compatible with the Conservation Objectives

Wildlife viewing currently takes place in the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as well as on the islets themselves. For observing marine wildlife, “BeWhaleWise” (2009) has produced guidelines stating boaters should slow down to speeds less than 7 knots when within 400 metres of a whale, keep clear of the whales path and do not position the vessel closer than 100 metres to any whale ( HYPERLINK “http://www.BeWhaleWise.org” www.BeWhaleWise.org). These guidelines also apply when observing pinnipeds and birds on land. These guidelines were developed to minimize human impacts to marine wildlife while allowing for viewing opportunities. Subject to operators adhering to these guidelines, wildlife viewing is considered compatible with the proposed MPA.

SCUBA diving is an activity that is likely compatible with conservation objectives for the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA when undertaken with minimal impact to marine life. PADI project AWARE (2007) has developed guidelines for divers to protect the underwater environment while diving. Low impact diving would involve not collecting any living or dead organisms, ensuring that the diver’s buoyancy level is appropriate so as not to disturb the seafloor, not feeding or disturbing marine wildlife, and ensuring that dive vessels do not set an anchor line onto the substrate.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has been used as a field site for scientific research and education by Pearson College as well as other researchers. Currently, all parties interested in conducting scientific research within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecological reserve require a BC Ecological Reserve permit and clearance from the Province of BC (administered by Pearson College). Research activities that contribute to the scientific knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystem function and knowledge of species at risk are compatible with the conservation objectives of this area.

Scientific monitoring and surveillance activities carried out to monitor marine life as well as those activities directed towards conservation and protection may have an impact on the fauna at Race Rocks (XwaYeN). Along the south coast of BC, overflights for pinniped stock assessment and creel surveys take place. This work is, at times necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of the MPA and to measure changes to the ecosystem and its functions.

Activities that are incompatible with the Conservation Objectives

Commercial and recreational fishing and other resource extraction activities are not compatible with the conservation objectives of the proposed MPA. Commercial fishing has not been permitted since 1990 and recreational hook and line fishing has not been permitted since 2005.

Wildlife viewing may be compatible within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA; however, harassment of the wildlife is not compatible with the conservation objectives.

The island of Great Race and the seabed nearby contain a number of manmade structures. These include the historic lighthouse, housing and power generation facilities on Great Race as well as the underwater turbine and infrastructure used by the tidal current project to generate environmentally sustainable electricity. These structures were built before the establishment of the MPA. However, further development that could impact the marine ecosystem within the MPA boundary is not compatible with the conservation objectives for the MPA.

References

Adkins, B.E. 1996. Abalone surveys in south coast areas during 1982, 1985 and 1986. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2089:72-96.

Barry, J.P., C.H. Baxter, R.D. Sagarin, S.E. Gilman. 1995. Climate-related, long-term faunal changes in a California rocky intertidal community. Science 267: 672-675.

Bates, B.C., Z.W. Kundzewicz, S. Wu and J.P. Palutikof, Eds., 2008. Climate Change and Water. Technical Paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC Secretariat Geneva. 210pp.

BC Lighthouse Data. 2009. Accessed on Oct. 21st, 2009. HYPERLINK “http://www-sci.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/osap/data/SearchTools/Searchlighthouse_e.htm” http://www-sci.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/osap/data/SearchTools/Searchlighthouse_e.htm

BC Ministry of Environment, 2007. British Columbia Marine Oil Spill Response Plan. Province of British Columbia. Victoria, B.C. 103pp.

BC Ministry of Environment, 2006. Alive and Insepararble. British Columbia’s coastal environment: 2006. Province of British Columbia. Victoria, B.C. 335pp.

Be Whale Wise. 2009. Accessed on Nov. 17th, 09. HYPERLINK “http://www.bewhalewise.org/” http://www.bewhalewise.org/

Chatwin, T.A., M.H. Mather, T. Giesbrecht. 2001. Double-crested and pelagic cormorant inventory in the Strait of Georgia in 2000. BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. 20pp.

Chavez, F.P., J. Ryan, S.E. Llutch-Cota, M. Niquen. 2003. From anchovies to saradines and back: Multidecadal change in the Pacific Ocean. Science. 299 (5604) 217 – 221.

COSEWIC. 2009. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Northern Abalone Haliotis kamtschatkana in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 48 pp. ( HYPERLINK “http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/status/status_e.cfm” www.sararegistry.gc.ca/status/status_e.cfm).

Crawford, W.R. and J. R. Irvine. (2009). State of physical, biological, and selected fishery
resources of Pacific Canadian marine ecosystems. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/022. vi + 121 p.

Demarchi, D.A. and M.W. Bentley. 2004. Effects of natural and human-caused disturbance on marine birds and pinnipeds at Race Rocks, BC. LGL Report. Prepared for Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.

Demarchi, D.A., W.B. Griffiths, D. Hannay, R. Racca, S. Carr. 1998. Effects of military demolitions and ordnance disposal on selected marine life near Rocky Point, southern Vancouver Island. LGL Report EA1172. Prepared for Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt. 113p.

DFO, 2006. State of the Pacific Ocean 2005. DFO Sci. Ocean Status Report. 2006/001.

DFO. 2008. Population Assessment: Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus). DFO Can. Sci.
Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2008/047.

Folland, C.K., T.R. Karl, J.R. Christy, R.A. Clarke, G.V. Gruza, J. Jouzel, M.E. Mann, J. Oerlemans, M.J. Salinger and S.-W. Wang, 2001: Observed Climate Variability and Change. In: Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Houghton, J.T.,Y. Ding, D.J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P.J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K. Maskell, and C.A. Johnson (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 881pp.

Gitay H., Surárez, A., Watson, R.T., Dokken, D.J. 2002. Climate change and biodiversity. Technical Paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC Secretariat, Geneva, 86 pp.

Hollowed, A. B., S. R. Hare and W. S. Wooster. 2001. Pacific basin climate variability and
patterns of northeast Pacific marine fish production. Prog. Oceanog. 49(2001): 257-282

Loaiciga H.A., J.B. Valdes, R. Vogel, J. Garvey, and H. Schwarz. 1996. Global warming and the hydrologic cycle J. of Hydrology, Volume 174, Number 1, pp. 83-127(45)

McPhaden, M.J., S.E. Zebiak, M.H. Glantz. 2006. ENSO as an integrating concept in earth science. Science. 314 (5806) 1740 – 1745.

Meteorological Services Canada – El Niño. 2009. Accessed Nov. 20th, 2009. HYPERLINK “http://www.smc-msc.ec.gc.ca/education/elnino/index_e.cfm” http://www.smc-msc.ec.gc.ca/education/elnino/index_e.cfm

NOAA – Earth System Research Laboratory. Accessed Nov. 20th, 2009. HYPERLINK “http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd//people/klaus.wolter/MEI/” http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd//people/klaus.wolter/MEI/

Olesiuk, P.F. 2008. An assessment of population trends and abundance of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in British Columbia. NMMRC Working Paper, Dept. Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, National Marine Mammal Review Committee Meeting, November 17 – 20, 2008, Nanaimo, British Columbia. DFO Can. Sci. Adv. Sec. 2009/005. vii + 44p.

Olesiuk, P.F. 2004. Status of sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus and Zalophus californianus) wintering off southern Vancouver Island. NMMRC Working Paper, Dept. Fisheries and Oceans, Canada, National Marine Mammal Review Committee Meeting, April 20 23, 2004, St. Andrews, New Brunswick. DFO Can. Sci. Adv. Sec. 2004/009. viii + 95p.

PADI project AWARE. 2007. Accessed on April 22nd, 10. HYPERLINK “http://www.projectaware.org/” http://www.projectaware.org/

REEF. 2009. Reef Environmental Education Foundation Volunteer Survey Project Database. World Wide Web electronic publication. HYPERLINK “http://www.reef.org” \o “www.reef.org” www.reef.org, Accessed Nov. 13th, 2009

Rothaus, D.P., B. Vadopalas, and C.S. Friedman. 2008. Precipitous declines in pinto
abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana kamtschatkana) abundance in the San Juan
Archipelago, Washington USA, despite statewide fishery closure. Canadian
Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65:2703-2711.

Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, R.B. Alley, T. Berntsen, N.L. Bindoff, Z. Chen, A. Chidthaisong, J.M. Gregory, G.C. Hegerl, M. Heimann, B. Hewitson, B.J. Hoskins, F. Joos, J. Jouzel, V. Kattsov, U. Lohmann, T. Matsuno, M. Molina, N. Nicholls, J. Overpeck, G. Raga, V. Ramaswamy, J. Ren, M. Rusticucci, R. Somerville, T.F. Stocker, P. Whetton, R.A. Wood and D. Wratt, 2007: Technical Summary. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

Transport Canada. 2009a. Ship-mediated Introductions. Accessed on Nov. 20th, 2009.
HYPERLINK “http://www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety/oep/environment/ballastwater/introductions.htm” http://www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety/oep/environment/ballastwater/introductions.htm)

Transport Canada. 2009b. Canadian Ballast Water Program. Accessed on Dec. 15, 2009.
HYPERLINK “http://www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety/oep/environment/ballastwater/menu.htm” http://www.tc.gc.ca/marinesafety/oep/environment/ballastwater/menu.htm

Vermeer K., K.H. Morgan, P.J. Ewins. 1992. Population trends of pelagic cormorants and
glaucous-winged gulls nesting on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Pages 60-64 in: K
Vermeer, RW Butler, KH Morgan (editors) The ecology, status and conservation of marine and shoreline birds on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Canadian Wildlife
Service Occasional Paper No. 75. Canadian Wildlife Service. Ottawa, ON.

Wallace, S.S. 1999. Evaluating the effects of three forms of marine reserve on Northern
Abalone populations in British Columbia, Canada. Conservation Biology 13:882-
887.

Wright, C.A., and J.P.Pringle. 2001. Race Rocks Marine Protected Area: An Ecological Overview. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2353:93p.

Personal Communications

Lousie Blight, PhD Candidate, Centre for Applied Conservation Research, UBC

Trudy Chatwin, Rare and Endangered Species Biologist, Ministry of Environment

Joanne Lessard, Research Biologist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Ken Morgan, Marine Conservation Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Services

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Clarification needed from Garry Fletcher – Do we know that the lighthouse records this information or is it at the shoreline station at Race Rocks where this data is recorded. In addition, it has been noted that William Head has recorded data since 1921 – however on-line it is indicated that data has been recorded at William Head since 1954
Garry Fletcher – Lighthouse vs shoreline station and William Head (date discrepancy)?
Sarah/Miriam do you have a reference here?
Sarah/Miriam – can we clarify that this number is correct as it is different then what is in W&P = 1233 indiv in 1984.
Sarah/Miriam, do you have a reference here?
Doug Biffard: Is this an accurate reflection of the authority of BC Parks and the roles and responsibilities of Pearson as custodians?
Sarah – reference?

Race Rocks (XwaYeN)
Proposed Marine Protected Area Ecosystem Overview and Assessment Report

Executive Summary

Background

Race Rocks (XwaYeN), located 17 km southwest of Victoria in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, consists of nine islets, including the large main island, Great Race. Named for its strong tidal currents and rocky reefs, the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) are a showcase for Pacific marine life. This marine life is the result of oceanographic conditions, supplying the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area with a generous stream of nutrients and high levels of dissolved oxygen. These factors contribute to the creation of an ecosystem of high biodiversity and biological productivity.

In 1980, the province of British Columbia, under the authority of the provincial Ecological Reserves Act, established the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. This provided protection of the terrestrial natural and cultural heritage values (nine islets) and of the ocean seabed (to the 20 fathoms/36.6 metre contour line). Ocean dumping, dredging and the extraction of non-renewable resources are not permitted within the boundaries of the Ecological Reserve. However, the Ecological Reserve cannot provide for the conservation and protection of the water column or for the living resources inhabiting the coastal waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as these resources are under the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

The federal government, through the authority of the Oceans Act (1997), has established an Oceans Strategy, which is based on the principles of sustainable development, integrated management and the precautionary approach. Part II of the Oceans Act also provides authority for the development of tools necessary to carry out the Oceans Strategy, tools such as the establishment of Marine Protected Areas. This federal authority will complement the previously established protection afforded the area by the Ecological Reserve, by affording protection and conservation measures to the living marine resources.

Under Section 35 of the Oceans Act, the Governor in Council is authorized to designate, by regulation, Marine Protected Areas (MPA) for any of the following reasons:
the conservation and protection of commercial and non-commercial fishery resources, including marine mammals and their habitats;
the conservation and protection of endangered or threatened species and their habitats;
the conservation and protection of unique habitats;
the conservation and protection of marine areas of high biodiversity or biological productivity; and
the conservation and protection of any other marine resource or habitat as is necessary to fulfill the mandate of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

In 1998, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as one of four pilot Marine Protected Area (MPA) initiatives on Canada’s Pacific Coast. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) meets the criteria set out in paragraphs 35(1) (a), (b) and (d) above. Establishing a MPA within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area will provide for a more comprehensive level of conservation and protection for the ecosystem than can be achieved by an Ecological Reserve on its own. Designating a MPA within the area encompassing the Ecological Reserve will facilitate the integration of conservation, protection and management initiatives under the respective authorities of the two governments.

The Race Rocks (XwaYeN) proposed Marine Protected Area (MPA) is 268.5 hectares in size and encompasses the majority of seamounts surrounding Great Race, the largest of the islets (Figure 1). It is important to note that the selection of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as a proposed MPA preceded the current framework for selecting Areas of Interest (AOI), which requires areas to be identifed as either ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSA), or areas that contain ecologically significant species (ESS). Though Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was not identified through an EBSA or ESS process, the area does provide habitat to ecologically significant species (e.g. Northern abalone, Stellar sea lions) and would likely qualify as an EBSA due to the oceanographic and bathymetric (Figure 2) features and conditions. In future, proposed Marine Protected Areas, now referred to as Areas of Interest (AOI), will be selected through Integrated Management initiatives that employ EBSA and ESS identification methods.

Figure 1: Race Rocks (XwaYeN) proposed Marine Protected Area with boundary coordinates.

Figure 2: Bathymetry surrounding the proposed Race Rocks (XwaYeN) Marine Protected Area.

Additional protection measures have been put in place in and around the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area since 1990, including fisheries closures under the Fisheries Act and restricting all commercial fishing of finfish and shellfish in the area. Recreational harvesting of salmon and halibut and harvesting of non-commercial species continue, but much of that activity was curtailed after the designation of a Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) around Race Rocks (XwaYeN) in 2004. The prohibition of living marine resource harvesting linked to an Oceans Act MPA designation will provide a longer-term commitment to the conservation and protection of the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecosystem.

In 2001, a comprehensive assessment of the physical and biological systems of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was completed by Wright and Pringle (2001). The 2001 report provides an extensive ecological overview describing the geological, physical oceanographic and biological components of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) and the surrounding waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the time. Natural history observations and some traditional knowledge were also included. The following report is a brief update to summarize new information that has been collected in the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area since that time and describe any changes to trends in species distributions and oceanographic conditions. This work is meant to supplement the existing ecological overview (Wright and Pringle 2001).
Ecological Overview of the Area of Interest
Physical Oceanographic Conditions

The Race Rocks (XwaYeN) lighthouse, located on Great Race Island, has recorded daily oceanographic and atmospheric conditions in the Strait of Juan de Fuca for several decades. The lighthouse was initially operated by the Canadian Coast Guard between 1860 and 1997, at which time the lighthouse became automated and Pearson College took over as the custodian. Race Rocks (XwaYeN), while located in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is influenced by the conditions of the Strait of Georgia, particularly the waters flowing from the Fraser River. Freshets from the Fraser River generally result in warmer surface temperatures (warmer waters) and lower surface salinity (Wright and Pringle 2001).

Since 1921, sea surface temperature (SST) has been recorded daily. Wright and Pringle (2001) describe average monthly SST from 1921-1998. Figure 3 compares the average monthly SST (sea surface temperature) from Wright and Pringle (2001) with the average monthly SST over the last eleven years (1999 – 2009). Error bars representing a 95 percent confidence interval have been included for the 1921 – 1998 time series to determine if the average SST temperature over the last eleven years falls within the previously observed range.

Figure 3: Annual cycle of SST at Race Rocks comparing the historic trend with data from the past eleven years.

For most months, with the exception of the late summer and early fall (August, September, October) the average monthly temperatures for the past eleven years have been within the 95 percent confidence interval of previous observations. All monthly averages within the past eleven years have been slightly higher than the historic time series. The months of August, September and October were significantly warmer over the past eleven years than the historic time series. In general, surface temperatures at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) are coolest in the winter months and begin to increase with increased solar exposure due to longer days in the spring and summer.

Salinity data are monitored at the lighthouse and have been since 1936. Wright and Pringle (2001) describe average monthly SST from 1936 -1998. Figure 4 compares the average monthly salinity from Wright and Pringle (2001) with the average monthly salinity over the last eleven years (1999 – 2009). Error bars representing a 95 percent confidence interval have been included for the 1936 – 1998 time series to determine if the average salinity temperature over the last eleven years falls within the previously observed range.

Figure 4: Annual cycle of salinity at Race Rocks comparing the historic trend with data from the past eleven years.

Salinity measurements illustrate two distinct pulses of freshwater into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Changes in salinity in the Strait of Georgia are related to the freshwater output of the Fraser River. With the onset of the spring freshet from the Fraser River, the Strait of Georgia becomes weakly stratified with a surface freshwater lens (Wright and Pringle 2001). The result is a decrease in salinity values from May to July, with a peak discharge of the Fraser River in June. There is a second pulse of decreased salinity in the fall due to runoff from coastal watershed from seasonal precipitation from October to February. Average monthly salinity measurements from the past eleven years are not significantly different from historic monthly salinity measurements.

Biological Systems
The waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) are home to a thriving community of intertidal and subtidal invertebrates, fish, undulating kelp forests as well as many marine mammals such as whales, sea lions, seals and marine birds.
Updates on Plankton

Annual plankton surveys are conducted at fixed stations from the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the north end of the Strait of Georgia. However, there is no fixed station at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) nor has there ever been any targeted monitoring for plankton specifically at Race Rocks (XwaYeN). The objective of the annual surveys at the fixed stations is to provide an indication of plankton abundance. Since 1999, observations have been conducted four times a year (April, June, September, and December). Survey timing intentionally corresponds to different discharge levels of the Fraser River. Results from these surveys provide information on nitrate and phytoplankton concentrations, including assemblage composition of phytoplankton based on phytoplankton pigments in the water column. As presented in the 2009 State of Pacific Canadian marine ecosystems report (Crawford and Irvine 2009), the distribution of phytoplankton and nitrate concentrations in the upper 15 metres of the water column in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Strait of Georgia, have been relatively consistent from 2002 to 2008. However, in the spring of 2008, phytoplankton and nitrate concentrations appeared lower in the southern Strait of Georgia in close proximity to Race Rocks while in the fall of 2008, phytoplankton concentrations were significantly higher and nitrate concentrations lower in the Strait of Juan de Fuca when compared with previous years (Crawford and Irvine 2009).

A comprehensive list of phytoplankton and zooplankton species observed in the Strait of Juan de Fuca can be found in Appendix 2 and 3 of Wright and Pringle (2001). Further discussion on the environmental conditions that influence plankton production can be reviewed in Wright and Pringle (2001).
Updates on Invertebrates and Marine Fish

Wright and Pringle (2001) summarized known information on benthic invertebrate communities at various intertidal and subtidal depths as well as the species composition of marine fish found in the waters of the proposed Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA. Since the writing of the ecological overview by Wright and Pringle (2001), studies on the Northern Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana), have continued and are further discussed in this report. Although not previously included in Wright and Pringle (2001), volunteer divers for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation documented occurrences of fish and invertebrate species that are known to exist in the south coast of BC. The REEF program and its findings from the waters surrounding Race Rocks are discussed below.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) provides habitat to a wide variety of invertebrates including the Northern Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana), which was listed as Threatened under SARA in 2003. The Northern Abalone prefers intertidal or subtidal habitat on exposed and semi-exposed rocky shorelines at depths less than 10 m. Abalone surveys in 2005 along the southeast side of Vancouver Island, recorded a density of 0.0098 abalone/m2 for all sites surveyed. More detailed data exists pertaining to the location and results of this survey, but is confidential due to concerns for abalone conservation (i.e. not divulging known locations of abalone populations). This density estimate was drastically lower than estimates from two previous surveys on the southeast side of Vancouver Island that found 0.73 abalone/m2 in 1982 and 1.15 abalone/m2 in 1985, respectively (Adkins 1996). Similar surveys conducted in the San Juan Islands by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife determined that the mean density at index sites was 0.04 abalone/m2 and ranged from 0.082 to 0.000 abalone/m2, including two sites where abalone were extirpated (Rothaus et al. 2008). Abalone stock in this area have declined by more than 98% since the mid-1980s (COSEWIC 2009).

In close proximity to Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is the William Head Penitentiary. Due to access restrictions enforced by a prison, the waters around William Head have resulted in a de facto marine reserve since 1958 (Wallace 1999). Timed surveys at the prison site found 0.77 abalone/min in 1996/97 and <0.1 abalone/min in 2005 suggesting that the abalone population around William Head is also disappearing (COSEWIC 2009). However, density transects were not completed at this site. While the cause of this population decrease may be the result of poaching, this is likely not the case due to the prison’s access restrictions. For this particular location, the most likely reason is simply that the large abalone found during the previous surveys have died and little or no recruitment has taken place (COSEWIC 2009).

Overall, the decline in Northern Abalone populations in the study area appear despite favorable oceanic conditions for abalone recruitment and an abundance of suitable habitat. While low recruitment and poaching have been identified as limiting factors to their recovery (COSEWIC 2009), population declines in this south coast area are believed to be solely due to recruitment failure and likely not due to poaching (J. Lessard pers.comm.). Overall, there is no evidence of population recovery in British Columbia since the fishery closed in 1990 (COSEWIC 2009).

The Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) coordinates dive surveys of fish and invertebrates following the Roving Diver Technique (RDT), a non-point visual survey method used by volunteer divers. Three REEF dive sites exist within the proposed Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA boundary: Great Race Rocks, West Race Wall and Rocks, and Rosedale Rocks. Volunteers are trained and examined on fish and invertebrate identification and assigned a designation of “novice” or “expert” as a result of their level of training and test scores. During a dive, volunteers record species observed as well as their abundance category, which is then used to determine a density index. REEF provides guidance and caution as to how to interpret their data. It is noted that the density index should only be used for guidance as the area is not rigorously controlled in the RDT method (REEF 2009).

Since 2001 (total bottom time of 12.5 hours), REEF survey results from Race Rocks (XwaYeN) have included 31 invertebrate species and 19 different species of fish. Table 1 provides a comparison of density and frequency of sightings for the three dive sites at Race Rocks (XwaYeN). Observed species are ranked according to total frequency of sightings across all three sites. The most frequently observed invertebrates were plumose anemone (Metridium senile), red and green urchins (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus and S. droebachiensis), sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides) and pink hydrocorals (Stylaster verrilli). The most frequently observed fish were Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus), Lingcod (Ophiodon elongates), Copper Rockfish (Sebastes caurinus), Black Rockfish (Sebastes melanops) and Scalyhead Sculpin (Artedius harringtoni). REEF data will be of continued importance for its ability to track new occurrences of species at a specific location. These include China Rockfish (Sebastes neblosus), Kelp Greenling (Hexagrammos decagrammus), Longfin Sculpin (Jordania zonope), and Painted Greenling (Oxylebius pictus). An incentive for volunteer divers communicated by REEF includes the potential for ‘expert’ designated volunteer divers to become part of more rigorous research projects conducted in their area. Researchers noting interesting trends in REEF data may develop survey methodologies and solicit help from the volunteer divers to conduct the surveys necessary. This incentive could potentially be employed for research and/or monitoring purposes.
Updates on Marine Mammals

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is a popular haulout site for pinnipeds in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Haulouts are a critical component to the life histories of pinnipeds making them important areas for bearing young, molting and resting. Five species of pinnipeds have been observed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN): Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), harbour seal (Phoca vitulina), northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) and California sea lion (Zalophus californianus).

Harbour seals are the most abundant marine mammal at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) with a non-migratory population present year-round. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has the highest concentration of harbour seals on the Canadian side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Populations grew at an annual rate of about 11.5 percent (95 percent confidence interval of 10.9 to 12.6 percent) during the 1970s and 1980s, but the growth rate began to slow in the mid-1990s and the population now appears to have stabilized (Olesiuk 2008). The population estimate for harbour seals in the Strait of Georgia in 2008 was 39,100 (95 percent confidence interval of 33,200 to 45,000) (Olesiuk 2008).

Elephant seals occasionally migrate into the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as their most northerly recorded haulout and have been noted to use the site as a haulout for moulting. Elephant seals normally breed in Baja (Mexico) or California, however, in January 2009 the first elephant seal pup was born on Great Race (REF???).

California sea lions, subadult and adult males, use Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as a winter haulout site between September and May. Abundance of California sea lions off southern Vancouver Table 1: Comparison of fish and invertebrate sightings at three dive sites within the marine component of the Race Rocks Area of Interest between 2001 & 2009. SF% is a measure of how frequently a species was observed and indicates the percentage of time out of all the surveys that the species was observed. DEN is an average measure of how many individuals were observed based on a scale of 1-4.
Rank
Common Name
Scientific Name
Total
Great Race Rock
West Race Wall & Rocks
Rosedale Rocks
SF%DENSF%DENSF%DENSF%DEN1Kelp GreenlingHexagrammos decagrammus85.72.771.42.6902.91002.32Red Sea UrchinStrongylocentrotus franciscanus853.783.33.4803.91003.83Plumose AnemoneMetridium senile/Metridium farcimen803.883.33.8703.91003.54Sunflower StarPycnopodia helianthoides752.183.32602.210025Green Sea UrchinStrongylocentrotus droebachiensis753.183.33803.3502.56Pink HydrocoralStylaster verrilli/S. venustus751.1501801.110017LingcodOphiodon elongatus71.41.842.92801.81001.88Giant BarnacleBalanus nubilus703.9503.370410049Gumboot ChitonCryptochiton stelleri702.866.73602.81002.510Copper RockfishSebastes caurinus66.71.842.92901.8501.511Orange Cup CoralBalanophyllia elegans603.933.34803.950412Black RockfishSebastes melanops57.11.828.61701.975213Orange Social AscidianMetandrocarpa taylori/dura55150160150114Scalyhead SculpinArtedius harringtoni52.42.542.92.3602.5502.515CabezonScorpaenichthys marmoratus47.61.357.11.3401.3501.516Leafy HornmouthCeratastoma foliatum452.333.32.5402.575217Rock ScallopCrassedoma giganteum452.433.32.5502.250318California Sea CucumberParastichopus californicus402.516.71502.8502.519Orange Sea CucumberCucumaria miniata402.8503302.7502.520Leather StarDermasterias imbricata401.833.31.5401.850221Quillback RockfishSebastes maliger38.11.942.92301.750222Juvenile (YOY) Rockfish – UnidentifiedSebastes sp.38.12.442.92302.350323Oregon TritonFusitriton oregonensis352.716.73402.8502.524Coonstripe ShrimpPandalus danae/P. gurneyi351.950230225125Fish-eating AnemoneUrticina piscivora252.633.33302.326Shiny Orange Sea SquirtCnemidocarpa finmarkiensis252.2202752.327Fringed Tube WormDodecaceria fewkesi250.8400.825128Longfin SculpinJordania zonope23.82.214.32302.325229Opalescent NudibranchHermissenda crassicornis202104751.330Northern AbaloneHaliotis kamtschatkana201.333.31.520131Spiny Pink StarPisaster brevispinus201.816.7120225232Red Irish LordHemilepidotus hemilepidotus191.5201.5501.533Strawberry AnemoneCorynactis californica15133.3110134Giant Pacific OctopusOctopus dofleini151.716.7110225235Yellow Margin DoridCadlina luteomarginata151.716.72201.536White-spotted AnemoneUrticina lofotensis153.716.7310425437Wolf-EelAnarrhichthys ocellatus14.31.728.61.510238Painted GreenlingOxylebius pictus14.3228.6210239Puget Sound RockfishSebastes emphaeus14.32.314.32202.540Candy Stripe ShrimpLebbeus grandimanus101.510225141Northern Feather Duster Worm Eudistylia vancouveri10120142Moon JellyAurelia aurita/labiata101.5201.543Longfin GunnelPholis clemensi9.5150144Lacy BryozoanPhidolopora labiata5410445Giant NudibranchDendronotus iris5210246Blackeye GobyRhinogobiops nicholsi4.8210247Unidentified Sculpin4.8114.3148China RockfishSebastes neblosus4.8225249Grunt SculpinRhamphocottus richardsoni4.8114.3150Rock GreenlingHexagrammos lagocephalus4.8214.32
Island increased dramatically during the 1970`s and early 1980s, with a peak count of about 4,500 in 1984. Although the species has continued to expand its range northward, wintering numbers as of 2004 have slowly declined to about one-third of their peak numbers (Olesiuk 2004).

The Steller sea lion was listed as a Special Concern species under SARA in 2003. Although their numbers are increasing, they are sensitive to human disturbance while on land. The abundance of Steller sea lions in BC has increased at an overall rate of 3.5 percent per year since the early 1970s (DFO 2008). Based on estimated pup production and a range of multipliers derived from life table statistics, it was calculated that at least 20,000 and as many as 28,000 Steller sea lions currently inhabit coastal waters of BC (DFO 2008). Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is not a breeding site but is used as a haulout site during the non-breeding season, September to May. Both male and female Steller sea lions from all age-classes, except newborn pups, can be found on Race Rocks (XwaYeN) (Demarchi and Bentley 2004). Protection of year-round and winter haulout sites is listed as an action item in the Steller sea lion management plan (Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2008).

A single Northern fur seal was observed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) by the lighthouse keeper between 1974 and 1982 (Wright and Pringle 2001). Although Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is within their North America range, there have only been incidental occurrences recorded at Race Rocks (XwaYeN).

Surveys were conducted on pinnipeds and marine birds at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) by LGL Ltd. for the 14 month period between October 2002 and November 2003 (52 monitoring sessions) (Demarchi et al 1998). The purpose of this study was to document how Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was being utilized by these organisms and how they were impacted by human disturbance (i.e., from boats, planes and military blasting). The report identified blasting as a cause of displacement for Steller sea lions and California sea lions from their haulout site. California sea lions were also sensitive to displacement by pleasure boats and foot traffic. LGL’s study expanded on a previous study (Demarchi et al 1998) which only examined the impacts of military blasting, by looking at other anthropogenic disturbances.

Update on Birds

A list of 45 species of birds observed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was included in Appendix 6 of the assessment report written by Wright and Pringle (2001). This list was compiled from data collected by the Wardens logs (1997-1999), unpublished data from Pearson College students and the 1997 Christmas Bird Count. Since 1997, volunteers for Bird Studies Canada have conducted an Annual Sooke Christmas Bird Count at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) over the course of one day, held during the Christmas week. This survey takes a snapshot of the number of winter bird species present and their relative abundance. The information is collected, amassed into a central database and used to monitor the status of resident and migratory birds over time from over 2000 localities across Canada, the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Birds counted during the 1997 to 2007 Christmas Bird Counts at Race Rocks (XwaYeN), including birds observed within the MPA boundaries, are presented in raw data format in Table 2. Gulls and alcids represent the most common groups of birds observed. Data collected from the Christmas Bird Count can be used in a time series to document changes in species composition and note new species observed in the area. The number of different bird species reported by the Christmas Bird Count within the MPA has increased from 45 species (as documented in Wright and Pringle 2001) to 64 species. Unfortunately, the one day enumeration does not provide enough information to conduct a detailed analysis of bird populations for this one location. Weather conditions have varied over the years, including Table2: Bird species documented during the Annual Christmas Bird Count at Race Rocks and the surrounding waters. No survey completed in 2003 & 2008 due to poor weather conditions. Surveyors did not land on Great Race in 2007 due to weather conditions.
Common NameScientific Name 199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008Double Crested CormorantPhalacrocorax auritus1413388580607920006Brandt’s Cormorant’s Phalacrocorax penicillatus8141266032073510009505Pelagic CormorantPhalacrocorax pelagicus14420141220110202042Common MurreUria aalge62060001940360021600450045Black OystercatcherHaematopus bachmani641712516391635220Black TurnstoneArenaria melanocephala27302551618254552SurfbirdAphriza virgata22003613000Rudy TurnstoneArenaria interpres1000000000SanderlingCalidris alba1000000012Pigeon GuillemotCepphus columba12536800002Marbled MurreletBrachyramphus marmoratus000600660Ancient MurreletSynthliboramphus antiquus01220034201200246Pacific LoonGavia pacifica030614404004Common LoonGavia immer0010100401Red Throated LoonGavia stellata1100000001Canada GooseBranta canadensis0000001820200Harlequin DuckHistrionicus histrionicus23646923043070Long-tailed duckClangula hyemalis0000000003BuffleheadBucephala albeola002412360090065Surf ScoterMelanitta perspicillata1800030661044Common GoldeneyeBucephala clangula0000000004White winged ScoterMelanitta deglandi14150000000Red-breasted merganserMergus serrator0000000007Common MerganserMergus merganser0000000007Hooded MerganserLophodytes cucullatus0000000004Red-necked grebePodiceps grisegena0100000408Western GrebeAechmophorus occidentalis0000000019Mew GullLarus canus2351200891512004400808040Thayer’s GullLarus thayeri390213482205302000450600220010Herring GullLarus argentatus30238120140Ring-billed GullLarus delawarensis0000001000Iceland GullLarus glaucoides0000100010California GullLarus californicus0000020000Western GullLarus occidentalis0212110010Glaucous Winged GullLarus glaucescens83401516172080017515010015Bonapartes GullChroicocephalus philadelphia000000006500Rhinocerous AukletCerorhinca monocerata1000000000MerlinFalco columbarius0010000000Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus0000010011Bald Eagle,Immat.Haliaeetus leucocephalus381311202135Bald Eagle, adultHaliaeetus leucocephalus5415403132KilldeerCharadrius vociferus0010000000Rock SandpiperCalidris ptilocnemis0068950000Black Bellied PloverPluvialis squatarola0001000000Red-necked PhalaropePhalaropus lobatus000001140000American PipitAnthus rubescens0000001000European StarlingSturnus vulgaris07083804350Song SparrowMelospiza melodia0400033100Savannah SparrowPasserculus sandwichensis0402000000North Western CrowCorvus caurinus73010001000Brown PelicanPelecanus occidentalis0000000010Great Blue HeronArdea herodias0000000002199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008Species Count/Year5151515051510515151510
some years where conditions were too stormy to complete the survey (1993) or land the boat at Great Race for the terrestrial portion of the survey (2007). In addition, high wind speeds and wave heights have resulted in low bird counts in some years (1998, 2005, and 2007). Conducting wintertime bird census is challenging at Race Rocks due to prevailing southeast winter winds and variable seas. However surveys at this time of year are valuable as they take into account migratory species that overwinter along BC’s coast.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has been surveyed for pelagic cormorant (Phalacrocorax pelagicus) nests every few years since 1955 as part of a larger assessment of the South Coast by the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment. In 1987, 120 nest sites were observed (Chatwin et al. 2001), and in 1989, 152 nests were observed (Vermeer 1992). In 2009, T. Chatwin and H. Carter surveyed for breeding cormorants in the Strait of Georgia, however zero were observed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) (T. Chatwin pers. comm.). Cormorant nesting studies have shown a 54 percent decrease in number of nest observed in the Strait of Georgia between 1987 to 2000 (Chatwin et al. 2001). This decline could be due to changes in prey availability (Pacific herring, gunnels, shiner perch and salmon), predation by other birds (eagles, crows and gulls) and/or disturbance from boat traffic (REF???).

Glaucous-winged gulls (Larus glaucescens) also nest at Race Rocks (XwaYeN), though the population has declined since its peak in the 1980s (L. Blight pers. comm.). Their nesting activity has been monitored by UBC researchers, and in 1989, 424 nests were observed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) (K. Morgan pers. comm.). Surveys completed in 2009 at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) by Louise Blight (UBC), Chris Blondeau (Pearson College) and Adam Harding (Pearson College) reported 115 nests on Great Race and zero on the other islands (L. Blight pers comm).

Pigeon Guillemots (Cepphus columba) and Black oystercatchers (Haematopus bachmani) also use Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as a breeding site however there has been no direct monitoring of their nesting success.

Recent Ecological Studies

In addition to this and the assessment report by Wright and Pringle (2001), ecological studies have been completed at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) to primarily answer either scientific research questions or provide an educational opportunity for students. Any and all research or educational activities that take place in the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecological reserve require a permit issued by BC Parks. Pearson College acts on behalf of the province of BC, as custodians of the Ecological Reserve, administering research permits and monitoring access to Rack Rocks (XwaYeN). Research conducted on Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is detailed on the External Research page on the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) website ( HYPERLINK “http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/research/researchexternal.htm” http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/research/researchexternal.htm) and is summarized in Table 3.

Table 3: Scientific Research Activities that have taken place at Race Rocks (from racerocks.com)
TIMELINE
ORGANIZATION
RESEARCH SUMMARY
1996 – 2004
Pearson College
Inventories of the tidepools on Great Race by students
Measurements of physical and chemical properties of the tidepools
2000
Pearson College
Analysis of the ecological niche of an anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima
2000
Pearson College
Study of the factors that affect intertidal zonation of a marine algae, Halosaccion glandiforme
2002Pearson CollegeDevelopment of a digital herbarium featuring images of over 40 species of marine algae
HYPERLINK “http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/algae/ryanmurphy/total.htm” http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/algae/ryanmurphy/total.htm
2002
Duke University
Collection site for PhD thesis on the systematics and evolution of hydrocorals using morphological and molecular biology
This work established that there is no genetic variation in colour morphs of purple and pink Stylaster corals (Allopora)
2002
Pearson College
Student directed study on the epiphytic community of a marine algae, Pterygophora californica
2003
LGL Ltd.
Assess the effects of natural and human-caused disturbances on marine birds and pinnipeds at Race Rocks over a 14 month period
2004
University of Victoria
Conducted field experiments exploring suspension feeders’ nutritional ecology and the role of dissolved substance as a food source for marine organisms
2005
Pearson College
Installation of automated weather station
2005
EnCana
Began installation of demonstration tidal power generation project
2006
Archipelago Marine Research Ltd.
Monitoring the impact of the tidal turbine generator, including the various stages of construction
2008
University of British Columbia
Master’s research developing a model-based approach to investigate Killer Whale exposure to marine vessel engine exhaust
Results demonstrate that wind angle had the largest effect on killer whale exposure to CO and NO2 and that the exposure levels to pollutants that occasionally exceeded the Metro Vancouver Air Quality Objectives (i.e. with low wind speeds, and mixing heights)
2009
AXYS Technologies
Deployed wind resource assessment buoy
Designed to assist offshore wind farm developers in determining the available wind resources at potential wind farm sites
2009
Pearson College
Assessment of the power generated by the tidal turbine generator at various current speeds

Potential or Existing Trends in Environmental Conditions

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is a series of islets that create a complex habitat along the seafloor resulting in an area of high species richness. However, it does not exist in isolation and is surrounded on one side by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia on the other side and influenced by the larger northeastern Pacific Ocean. The waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) are not immune to environmental forcers. Environmental forcers are potential or existing environmental conditions that have a significant influence on the environmental quality of the region.
Changes to global and regional climate

The climate in British Columbia has changed over the last 50 years, with average air temperature becoming higher in many areas (BC Ministry of Environment 2006). Changes have occurred in several aspects of the atmosphere and surface that alter the global energy budget of the Earth (Solomon et al. 2007). The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the national science academies of eleven nations, including Canada and the United States, have recognized that the Earth’s atmosphere is warming and that human activities that release greenhouse gases are an important cause (BC Ministry of Environment 2006). Although several of the major greenhouse gases occur naturally, increases in their atmospheric concentrations over the last 250 years are due largely to human activities (Solomon et al 2007). These gases include methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and carbon dioxide (CO2). The concentration of atmospheric CO2 has increased from a pre-industrial value of about 280 ppm to 379 ppm in 2005 (Solomon et al 2007). The increase in greenhouse gases warms the atmosphere and affects the temperature of air, land, and water, as well as patterns of precipitation, evaporation, wind, and ocean currents. The rate of warming averaged over the last 50 years (0.13°C ± 0.03°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the last 100 years (Solomon et al 2007). Climate change impacts on the ocean include sea surface temperature-induced shifts in the geographic distribution of marine biota and compositional changes in biodiversity, particularly at higher latitudes (Gitay et al 2002). Sea surface temperature can influence life processes in marine organisms such as recruitment, growth and activity rates.

Observed warming over several decades has been linked to changes in the large-scale hydrological cycle such as: increasing atmospheric water vapour content; changing precipitation patterns, intensity and extremes; reduced snow cover and widespread melting of ice; and changes in soil moisture and runoff (Bates et al 2008). Simulations of greenhouse-warming scenarios in midlatitudinal basins of the United States, predict shorter winter seasons, larger winter floods, drier and more frequent summer weather, and overall enhanced and protracted hydrologic variability (Loaiciga et al 1996). Pressures to the Georgia Basin as a result of climate change include continued increases in air and sea surface temperature (SST), and changes in precipitation rates and sea-level in the region (REF???). This will be characterized by less rainfall in the summer and heavier rainfalls and frequent storms in the late fall and winter. These changes in the hydrological cycle will impact the Fraser River, a watershed fed by snowpack. Changes to the freshwater output will also alter salinity levels in the Georgia Basin. Reduction in the snowpack will alter the output of the Fraser River in the summer months. It has not been determined whether or not climate change will also amplify the effects of existing ocean-atmospheric cyclic weather patterns, such as El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (Folland et al 2001, McPhaden et al 2006). Both of these weather patterns produce cycles of cold, productive ocean conditions and warm, less productive ocean conditions, both of which have been observed and documented for decades.

The result of climate change on the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecosystem is expected to be increased stress on many of the organisms that are found there. Changes in the timing and volume of freshwater runoff will affect salinity, sediment and nutrient availability, as well as moisture regimes in coastal ecosystems (Bates et al 2008). This will alter the range of habitat available and community structure at Race Rocks (XwaYeN). Sea surface temperature is correlated closely with the structure of intertidal communities, and thermal or desiccation stress caused by elevated air temperatures can have strong effects on intertidal biota, particularly in the upper intertidal (Barry et al 1995). Intertidal sites that are exposed to greater temperature and salinity extremes may become unfavourable. It is not known how fluctuations in these water properties will impact subtidal organisms. Changes in oceanic temperature and circulation patterns cause changes in production of the phytoplankton (single-celled algae) that form the base of the oceanic food chain (BC Ministry of Environment 2006). Changes to production of phytoplankton may impact organisms that feed in the waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait. Rising sea-levels and increased storm activity caused by climate change has the potential to alter the shape and size of the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) archipelago. The analysis of sea level records shows that relative sea levels have been rising in Vancouver and Victoria at a rate of 3.1 cm/50 years (BC Ministry of Environment 2006). Islands are important refuge sites for both pinnipeds and birds. The alteration of the available shoreline could potentially reduce the area available for pinnipeds to haulout for moulting, breeding and resting. Changes in island size may also impact the area available as nesting sites for breeding birds.

El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation

The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle is the strongest natural variation of Earth’s climate on year-to-year time scales, affecting physical, biological, chemical, and geological processes in the oceans, in the atmosphere and on land (McPhaden et al 2006). The ENSO cycle consists of alternating warm El Niño and cold La Niña events. El Niño occurs due to changes that are not fully understood in the normal patterns of trade wind circulation in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Under normal conditions, trade winds move eastward along the equator, carrying warm surface water to northern Australia and Indonesia and causing upwelling of cooler water along the South American coast. For reasons not yet fully understood, these trade winds can sometimes be reduced, or even reversed. The result of this reversal produces warmer surface waters off the coast of North and South America. These warmer waters move northward along the Pacific coast of North America and push cooler, productive water below it producing an El Niño event. La Niña occurs when the reverse atmospheric and oceanographic conditions are present and results in cooler, nutrient rich waters along the Pacific coast.

Since the 1990s there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of El Niño events. Table 4 identifies conditions on the Pacific coast of North America from 1950 – 2007 as either a strong or weak El Niño or La Niña or as a neutral year in which the Southern Oscillation did not have a strong impact on weather conditions. The multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) (Figure 5) is used by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to monitor the Southern Oscillation. The index measures the observed departure from a standardized value for six variables: sea-level pressure, zonal and meridional components of the surface wind, sea surface temperature, surface air temperature, and total cloudiness fraction of the sky. Measurements are taken from locations across the tropical Pacific. El Niño years are characterized by positive MEI values and La Niña years are characterized by negative MEI values.

Table 4: Account of ENSO for El Niño and La Niña Years 1950-2007
HYPERLINK “http://www.smc-msc.ec.gc.ca/education/elnino/comparing/enso1950_2002_e.html” http://www.smc-msc.ec.gc.ca/education/elnino/comparing/enso1950_2002_e.html
Year
Classification
Year
Classification
Year
Classification
1950-51
Moderate La Niña
1970-71
Moderate La Niña
1990-91
Weak El Niño
1951-52
Neutral
1971-72
Neutral
1991-92
Strong El Niño
1952-53
Weak El Niño
1972-73
Moderate El Niño
1992-93
Weak El Niño
1953-54
Neutral
1973-74
Strong La Niña
1993-94
Neutral
1954-55
Moderate La Niña
1974-75
Weak La Niña
1994-95
Weak El Niño
1955-56
Moderate La Niña
1975-76
Moderate La Niña
1995-96
Weak La Niña
1956-57
Neutral
1976-77
Weak El Niño
1996-97
Neutral
1957-58
Strong El Niño
1977-78
Weak El Niño
1997-98
Strong El Niño
1958-59
Weak El Niño
1978-79
Neutral
1998-99
Moderate La Niña
1959-60
Neutral
1979-80
Weak El Niño
1999-2000
Strong La Niña
1960-61
Neutral
1980-81
Neutral
2000-01
Neutral
1961-62
Neutral
1981-82
Neutral
2001-02
Neutral
1962-63
Neutral
1982-83
Strong El Niño
2002-03
Moderate El Niño
1963-64
Weak El Niño
1983-84
Weak La Niña
2003-04
Neutral
1964-65
Weak La Niña
1984-85
Weak La Niña
2004-05
Neutral
1965-66
Moderate El Niño
1985-86
Neutral
2005-06
Neutral
1966-67
Neutral
1986-87
Moderate El Niño
2006-07
Weak El Niño
1967-68
Neutral
1987-88
Weak El Niño

1968-69
Moderate El Niño
1988-89
Strong La Niña

1969-70
Weak El Niño
1989-90
Neutral

Figure 5: Time series of the MEI during winter. Negative values of the MEI represent La Niña events, while positive MEI values represent El Niño events. (NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory: HYPERLINK “http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd//people/klaus.wolter/MEI/” http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd//people/klaus.wolter/MEI/)

During El Niño years some unusual species have been observed on the BC Coast. Migratory species that prefer warmer water such as Humboldt squid (Dosidicus gigas) and Ocean Sunfish (Mola mola) are observed farther north than usual (DFO 2006). El Niño years have produced greater than average precipitation in the winter, and lower than average precipitation in the summer (Meteorological Services Canada 2009). Although this results in greater than average precipitation, the average air temperature is warmer resulting in more rain than snow and an overall reduction in the local snowpack. For watersheds that are fed by snowmelt (such as the Fraser River) El Niño years will result in lower water levels during the summer months.

La Niña often produces climate impacts that are roughly opposite to those of El Niño (McPhaden et al 2006). For British Columbia this will result in a colder winter with above average precipitation, in the form of snowfall. During La Niña years there is increased productivity of the ocean caused by upwelling of colder, nutrient rich water along the continental slope.

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a term used to describe decadal-scale pattern of variability in the North Pacific basin. The PDO index (Mantua et al 1999) is based on the results obtained from principal components analysis of mean monthly sea surface temperature anomalies over the North Pacific Ocean averaged into 5° grids since 1900 (DFO 2006). PDO is a decadal-scale oscillation in the North Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) with alternating positive and negative phases that have lasted 20–30 years during the 20th Century (Hollowed et al 2001). The PDO signal is strongest in the North Pacific and like ENSO will produce oceanographic conditions with high productivity, though not on a global scale. The PDO can produce regional changes to prey composition and availability along the Pacific coast. Pacific salmon and selected flatfish stocks show production patterns that are consistent with the oscillations of the PDO (Hollowed et al 2001). This pattern is evident in trends of abundance for pelagic species such as sardines that are found to have successful years in the North Pacific while populations further south are struggling (Chavez et al 2003).

These changes in prey composition and availability will impact the higher trophic level species, such as pinnipeds and birds found in the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN).

‘Natural’ changes in species composition

Marine ecosystems are dynamic and must respond to fluctuations in available resources. Natural changes in species composition reflect the resilience of the ecosystem and are not necessarily a sign of detrimental impacts to the ecosystem. Natural changes can include changes to prey composition, availability and seasonality. These natural fluctuations often impact several trophic levels in the food web by either a reduction in prey availability or an absence of a preferred prey type.

Northern elephant seals birthing pups at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) in 2009 and 2010 may be an example of natural changes in species composition as the most northern rookery for Northern elephant seals was previously considered to be in central California. However, it is not known at this time if this is a significant expansion in breeding range or an anecdotal occurrence involving a few animals. It is also not known if there are any other occurrences of Northern elephant seals breeding north of their known range along the West Coast of North America.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are organisms that are not native to a region. They may have been intentionally introduced for commercial reasons (e.g., Pacific oysters, Crassostrea gigas and Manila clams, Venerupis philippinarum) or they may have been unintentionally introduced through ballast water from ocean-going vessels (e.g., Green crab, Carcinus maenas) seafood packaging (e.g. Sargassum) or other vectors of transmission. All introduced species require a vector or mode of transmission and pathways (routes taken) of invasion. Common vectors of transmission include ballast water and hull fouling from ocean-going vessels, derelict ships, and shellfish aquaculture. It has been estimated that over 117 alien invasive species have established populations in the Strait of Georgia or along its shoreline (Transport Canada 2009a).

Not all introductions result in the establishment of an invasive species. Successful invaders are able to easily adapt to different environmental conditions and compete with native species for food and habitat. Often, introduced species do not have a natural predator in their new environment and are capable of taking over the ecosystem niche of another organism. Invasive species can reduce or destroy ecosystem functions and habitat. Species introductions cause biodiversity loss, can be detrimental to native populations and create vulnerable ecosystems.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is located in close proximity to a major shipping lane for vessels destined to Vancouver or Seattle, both of which are busy seaports. Transmission of invasive species by ballast water may still be a threat to the area in spite of recent regulations for ballast water exchange due to non-compliance. The majority of the established invasive species on the coast of BC prefer sheltered waters with low wave energy such as lagoons or estuaries. Examples of successful invasions include clubbed tunicate (Styela clava) and violet star tunicate (Botrylloides violaceus), both of which are problem species for shellfish aquaculture operations. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is located in the middle of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is exposed to high energy waves making it an unlikely place of establishment. Although invasive species are a threat to all marine environments, the physical characteristics of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) make establishment of an invasive species challenging.

Human Significance of the Protected Features

The area has cultural significance to local First Nations. The XwaYeN (Race Rocks) area is claimed traditional territory for at least four Coast Salish First Nations people; Beecher Bay First Nation, T’Sou-ke Nation, Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation. The term “XwaYen” is from the Klallem language for the place called Race Rocks. The nutrient rich waters of this area provides a wide diversity of food fishing opportunities year round for First Nations. XwaYeN (Race Rocks) is believed to be the gateway to the Salish Sea and is seen as an icon of the region, ecosystem and traditional territories of the Salish people.

Since 1977, faculty, students and staff at Pearson College have been involved with Race Rocks (XwaYeN). The college is committed to explore and expand its research and education opportunities available at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as well as maintain a long term presence as the custodian of the Ecological Reserve. While the area has typically been used for marine biology research and field trips, diving and assisting other researchers to the area, effort has been directed by the college towards ecological restoration to mitigate the ecological footprint from former operations. In addressing the concern about environmental impacts from site visits during the 1980s and 1990s, a website was launched in 2000 to support non-commercial education through live streaming video (www.racerocks.com).

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) provides opportunities for recreational activities as well as public awareness and education on its unique ecological features. Its close proximity to urban areas means that Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is independently accessed by the public for boating, fishing, diving and wildlife viewing. Boaters may use the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as a thoroughfare to other areas, shelter from the elements, a reference point for navigation or a general point of interest. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has been recognized as an important sport fishing destination since western settlement with anglers seeking Pacific salmon, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, prawns and crabs. Since 1900, Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has gained worldwide attention by divers for its marine diversity as well as its walls, pinnacles, crevices and high currents. While divers enjoy the underwater ecosystem, tourists and researchers to the area have engaged in marine wildlife viewing, typically between the months of April to October. The important tidal upwelling due to the unique bathymetric features at Race Rocks (XwaYeN), acts as a haven for a significant assortment of flora and fauna.

Changes to Ecosystem Management Since 2001

Race Rocks was designated an Ecological Reserve in 1980 by the BC Government. Under the Ecological Reserve designation only non-consumptive use is permitted. The area is closed to both commercial and recreational fisheries by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). In September 1998 Race Rocks was proposed as a Pilot MPA (Area of Interest) by DFO.

In 2003 the Species at Risk Act was enacted by the federal government. This legislation protects species at risk and their critical habitat. The Act also requires the development of a recovery and management plans. These documents outline short-term and long-term goals for protecting and recovering species at risk. Race Rocks is home to two species that have been listed under SARA: 1)Northern Abalone (threatened), and 2) Steller sea lion (special concern). Transient killer whales (threatened) have also been observed in the area.

In 2004 Race Rocks became a Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA), and part of the network that consists of 164 sites coast-wide. RCAs were designed to protect inshore rockfish and lingcod and their habitat from recreational and commercial fishing pressures. The RCA designation prohibits any fishing activities (both recreational and commercial) that would harm rockfish stocks. Race Rocks was selected as a RCA because the island and surrounding seabed were already listed as an Ecological Reserve and the complex geography of the area provides ideal habitat for inshore rockfish. Figure 5 shows the boundaries of the RCA to the 40 m depth contour line.

Assessment of the Area of Interest
Conservation Objectives

Based upon our knowledge of the area and results of consultations, the conservation objectives below were developed, in order to identify the ecological features requiring protection in the Rocks (XwaYeN) proposed MPA.

The 1st order conservation objective for Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is proposed as:

To protect and conserve an area of high biological productivity and biodiversity, providing habitat for fish and marine mammals, including threatened and endangered species.

The 2nd order conservation objectives for Race Rocks (XwaYeN) would be:

Impacts from human activities in the area will not compromise the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem function of the Race Rocks Marine Protected Area.
Build a knowledge base to define and understand biodiversity and ecosystem function using best science and TEK/LEK.
Monitor biodiversity and ecosystem function.
Monitor and evaluate management effectiveness to ensure management is contributing toward achievement of the overarching Conservation Objective.

Pressures from human activities in or near the proposed Marine Protected Area (MPA)

Wildlife enthusiasts travel to Race Rocks (XwaYeN) to experience the diverse marine life the area has to offer. While tourism activities, such as diving, whale watching, wildlife viewing and boating are common and beneficial activities to Race Rocks (XwaYeN), they can have adverse effects on the marine environment and the inhabitants. Whether intentional or unintentional, recreational activities in this area may result in animal harassment by altering their natural movements through the water and on land. In addition, illegal fishing within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecological reserve by recreational boaters may be an issue.

The Department of National Defence’s (DND) military buffer zone for the WQ (Whiskey Quebec) military training area is partially located in the waters of the proposed Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA. While training activities do not take place within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA boundary, Bentinck Island, located approximately 2 km to the North, is a training site for the use of explosives for the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt. Studies have been conducted on Race Rocks (XwaYeN) to document the impact of blasting and other anthropogenic disturbances on the marine mammals and birds (Demarchi et al 1998, Demarchi & Bentley 2004). Their results found that Steller sea lions had the greatest sensitivity to blasting of all the species monitored and Northern elephant seals were the most tolerant. Among sea birds, cormorants appeared to be more sensitive to blasting than gulls or pigeon guillemots. Some mitigation measures have been proposed to reduce the impact of blasting at Bentinck Island. These include a reduction of the number of blasts during the harbour seal pupping season (June through September), attempting to muffle the sound of the blast by surrounding the charge with sand bags and evaluating the feasibility of a new blasting site on Bentinck Island. In addition to noise, blasting may expose the marine environment to toxic minerals that are found in the explosives.

Vessel traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca poses a threat to the ecosystem of Race Rocks (XwaYeN). Juan de Fuca Strait vessel traffic zones have the highest traffic volumes in BC (BC Ministry of Environment 2006). The BC government, in response to oil spills in Washington and Alaska, completed a coastal inventory and shoreline oil sensitivity mapping analysis. The Ministry of Environment developed the BC Marine Oil Spill Prevention and Preparedness Strategy and the BC Marine Oil Spill Response Plan (BC Ministry of Environment 2007). This work has identified the level of risk for different habitat types and regions of the coast as well as established a framework for an integrated response to an oil spill. Due to Race Rocks (XwaYeN) location and proximity to shipping lanes, the islets are susceptible to oil spills. However, the shoreline of southwest Vancouver Island has been classified as low sensitivity to long-term impacts from an oil spill.

Trans-oceanic vessels in the Strait of Juan de Fuca also pose a threat to the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecosystem through ballast water exchange, as this has been documented as a vector for invasive species. In 2006, Transport Canada developed ballast water regulations as part of the Canadian Ballast Water Program that require vessels to exchange their ballast water in the open ocean before they arrive at a Canadian port (Transport Canada 2009b). All vessels are required to document the ballast content and the locations were they have exchanged ballast water.

Other threats to the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecosystem include aerial over flights that may disturb pinnipeds and birds. Pollution from industrial, agricultural and residential sources will also have an impact on the marine environment. Increased development in the Victoria area and recent interest by the public in marine conservation issues has increased the awareness and interest in Race Rocks (XwaYeN). This increased interest could cause increased pressures as more members of the public visit Race Rocks (XwaYeN).

Activities that may be compatible with the Conservation Objectives

Wildlife viewing currently takes place in the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as well as on the islets themselves. For observing marine wildlife, “BeWhaleWise” (2009) has produced guidelines stating boaters should slow down to speeds less than 7 knots when within 400 metres of a whale, keep clear of the whales path and do not position the vessel closer than 100 metres to any whale ( HYPERLINK “http://www.BeWhaleWise.org” www.BeWhaleWise.org). These guidelines also apply when observing pinnipeds and birds on land. These guidelines were developed to minimize human impacts to marine wildlife while allowing for viewing opportunities. Subject to operators adhering to these guidelines, wildlife viewing is considered compatible with the proposed MPA.

SCUBA diving is an activity that is likely compatible with conservation objectives for the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA when undertaken with minimal impact to marine life. PADI project AWARE (2007) has developed guidelines for divers to protect the underwater environment while diving. Low impact diving would involve not collecting any living or dead organisms, ensuring that the diver’s buoyancy level is appropriate so as not to disturb the seafloor, not feeding or disturbing marine wildlife, and ensuring that dive vessels do not set an anchor line onto the substrate.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has been used as a field site for scientific research and education by Pearson College as well as other researchers. Currently, all parties interested in conducting scientific research within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecological reserve require a BC Ecological Reserve permit and clearance from the Province of BC (administered by Pearson College). Research activities that contribute to the scientific knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystem function and knowledge of species at risk are compatible with the conservation objectives of this area.

Scientific monitoring and surveillance activities carried out to monitor marine life as well as those activities directed towards conservation and protection may have an impact on the fauna at Race Rocks (XwaYeN). Along the south coast of BC, overflights for pinniped stock assessment and creel surveys take place. This work is, at times necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of the MPA and to measure changes to the ecosystem and its functions.

Activities that are incompatible with the Conservation Objectives

Commercial and recreational fishing and other resource extraction activities are not compatible with the conservation objectives of the proposed MPA. Commercial fishing has not been permitted since 1990 and recreational hook and line fishing has not been permitted since 2005.

Wildlife viewing may be compatible within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA; however, harassment of the wildlife is not compatible with the conservation objectives.

The island of Great Race and the seabed nearby contain a number of manmade structures. These include the historic lighthouse, housing and power generation facilities on Great Race as well as the underwater turbine and infrastructure used by the tidal current project to generate environmentally sustainable electricity. These structures were built before the establishment of the MPA. However, further development that could impact the marine ecosystem within the MPA boundary is not compatible with the conservation objectives for the MPA.

References

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Barry, J.P., C.H. Baxter, R.D. Sagarin, S.E. Gilman. 1995. Climate-related, long-term faunal changes in a California rocky intertidal community. Science 267: 672-675.

Bates, B.C., Z.W. Kundzewicz, S. Wu and J.P. Palutikof, Eds., 2008. Climate Change and Water. Technical Paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC Secretariat Geneva. 210pp.

BC Lighthouse Data. 2009. Accessed on Oct. 21st, 2009. HYPERLINK “http://www-sci.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/osap/data/SearchTools/Searchlighthouse_e.htm” http://www-sci.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/osap/data/SearchTools/Searchlighthouse_e.htm

BC Ministry of Environment, 2007. British Columbia Marine Oil Spill Response Plan. Province of British Columbia. Victoria, B.C. 103pp.

BC Ministry of Environment, 2006. Alive and Insepararble. British Columbia’s coastal environment: 2006. Province of British Columbia. Victoria, B.C. 335pp.

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Chatwin, T.A., M.H. Mather, T. Giesbrecht. 2001. Double-crested and pelagic cormorant inventory in the Strait of Georgia in 2000. BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. 20pp.

Chavez, F.P., J. Ryan, S.E. Llutch-Cota, M. Niquen. 2003. From anchovies to saradines and back: Multidecadal change in the Pacific Ocean. Science. 299 (5604) 217 – 221.

COSEWIC. 2009. COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Northern Abalone Haliotis kamtschatkana in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 48 pp. ( HYPERLINK “http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/status/status_e.cfm” www.sararegistry.gc.ca/status/status_e.cfm).

Crawford, W.R. and J. R. Irvine. (2009). State of physical, biological, and selected fishery
resources of Pacific Canadian marine ecosystems. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/022. vi + 121 p.

Demarchi, D.A. and M.W. Bentley. 2004. Effects of natural and human-caused disturbance on marine birds and pinnipeds at Race Rocks, BC. LGL Report. Prepared for Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt.

Demarchi, D.A., W.B. Griffiths, D. Hannay, R. Racca, S. Carr. 1998. Effects of military demolitions and ordnance disposal on selected marine life near Rocky Point, southern Vancouver Island. LGL Report EA1172. Prepared for Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt. 113p.

DFO, 2006. State of the Pacific Ocean 2005. DFO Sci. Ocean Status Report. 2006/001.

DFO. 2008. Population Assessment: Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus). DFO Can. Sci.
Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2008/047.

Folland, C.K., T.R. Karl, J.R. Christy, R.A. Clarke, G.V. Gruza, J. Jouzel, M.E. Mann, J. Oerlemans, M.J. Salinger and S.-W. Wang, 2001: Observed Climate Variability and Change. In: Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Houghton, J.T.,Y. Ding, D.J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P.J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K. Maskell, and C.A. Johnson (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 881pp.

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Hollowed, A. B., S. R. Hare and W. S. Wooster. 2001. Pacific basin climate variability and
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Loaiciga H.A., J.B. Valdes, R. Vogel, J. Garvey, and H. Schwarz. 1996. Global warming and the hydrologic cycle J. of Hydrology, Volume 174, Number 1, pp. 83-127(45)

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Personal Communications

Lousie Blight, PhD Candidate, Centre for Applied Conservation Research, UBC

Trudy Chatwin, Rare and Endangered Species Biologist, Ministry of Environment

Joanne Lessard, Research Biologist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Ken Morgan, Marine Conservation Biologist, Canadian Wildlife Services

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Clarification needed from Garry Fletcher – Do we know that the lighthouse records this information or is it at the shoreline station at Race Rocks where this data is recorded. In addition, it has been noted that William Head has recorded data since 1921 – however on-line it is indicated that data has been recorded at William Head since 1954
Garry Fletcher – Lighthouse vs shoreline station and William Head (date discrepancy)?
Sarah/Miriam do you have a reference here?
Sarah/Miriam – can we clarify that this number is correct as it is different then what is in W&P = 1233 indiv in 1984.
Sarah/Miriam, do you have a reference here?
Doug Biffard: Is this an accurate reflection of the authority of BC Parks and the roles and responsibilities of Pearson as custodians?
Sarah – reference?

racerocks.com homepage Pearson College Website Sitemap Contact
webmaster:
Garry Fletcher
Copyright

Management Plan for Race Rocks MPA, Nov 2010 Draft

Executive Summary

Race Rocks was designated an Ecological Reserve in 1980 by the BC Government. In September 1998, Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was proposed as a Pilot MPA (Area of Interest) by DFO. In 2004 Race Rocks became a Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) to protect inshore rockfish and lingcod and their habitat from recreational and commercial fishing pressures.

A Marine Protected Area (MPA) under the Oceans Act is a are geographically defined areas in the marine environment dedicated and managed for the long-term conservation of nature. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) designates marine protected areas under the HYPERLINK “http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/O-2.4/text.html” Oceans Act in order to protect and conserve:
Commercial and non-commercial fishery resources, including marine mammals, and their habitats;
Endangered or threatened marine species, and their habitats;
Marine areas of high biodiversity or biological productivity; and
Unique habitats;
Any other marine resource or habitat as is necessary to fulfill the Minister’s mandate (of Scientific Research).
There is considerable scientific evidence that marine protected areas and networks provide a number of ecological benefits, including the enhanced recruitment of fish species, including those of commercial value, through the protection of spawning areas, larval sources, habitats and migration routes. In addition, benefits of marine protected areas and networks extend beyond the ecological as there are often social, cultural and economic benefits to establishing and managing marine protected areas. On ?????, the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) Pilot MPA received formal designation as an Oceans Act marine protected area. As a result of this designation, the waters surrounding Race Rocks are now a federal MPA.

Introduction
Race Rocks (XwaYeN), located 17 km southwest of Victoria in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, consists of nine islets, including the large main island, Great Race. Named for its strong tidal currents and rocky reefs, the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) are a showcase for Pacific marine life. This marine life is the result of ideal oceanographic conditions, supplying the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area with a generous stream of nutrients
and high levels of dissolved oxygen. These factors contribute to the creation of an ecosystem of high biodiversity and biological productivity.

In 1980, the province of British Columbia, under the authority of the provincial Ecological Reserves Act, established the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. This provided protection of the terrestrial natural and cultural heritage values (nine islets) and of the ocean seabed (to the 20 fathoms/36.6 metre contour line). Ocean dumping, dredging and the extraction of non-renewable resources are not permitted within the boundaries of the Ecological Reserve. However, the Ecological Reserve cannot provide for the conservation and protection of the water column or for the living resources inhabiting the coastal waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as these resources are under the jurisdiction of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

The federal government, through the authority of the Oceans Act (1997), has established an Oceans Strategy, which is based on the principles of sustainable development, integrated management and the precautionary approach. Part II of the Oceans Act also provides authority for the development of tools necessary to carry out the Oceans Strategy, tools such as the establishment of Marine Protected Areas. This federal authority will complement the previously established protection afforded the area by the Ecological Reserve, by affording protection and conservation measures to the living marine resources.

Under Section 35 of the Oceans Act, the Governor in Council is authorized to designate, by regulation, Marine Protected Areas (MPA) for any of the following reasons:
the conservation and protection of commercial and non-commercial fishery resources, including marine mammals and their habitats;
the conservation and protection of endangered or threatened species and their habitats;
the conservation and protection of unique habitats;
the conservation and protection of marine areas of high biodiversity or biological productivity; and
the conservation and protection of any other marine resource or habitat as is necessary to fulfill the mandate of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

In 1998, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as one of four pilot Marine Protected Area (MPA) initiatives on Canada’s Pacific Coast. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) meets the criteria set out in paragraphs 35(1) (a), (b) and (d) above. Establishing a MPA within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area will provide for a more comprehensive level of conservation and protection for the ecosystem than can be achieved by an Ecological Reserve on its own. Designating a MPA within the area encompassing the Ecological Reserve will facilitate the integration of conservation, protection and management initiatives under the respective authorities of the two governments.

Since 1977, faculty, students and staff at Pearson College have been involved with Race Rocks (XwaYeN). The college is committed to explore and expand its research and education opportunities available at Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as well as maintain a long term presence as the custodian of the Ecological Reserve. Any and all research or educational activities to take place in the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecological reserve requires a permit issued by BC Parks. Pearson College acts on behalf of the province of BC, as custodians of the Ecological Reserve, administering research permits and monitoring access to Rack Rocks (XwaYeN). Research conducted on Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is detailed on the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) website ( HYPERLINK “http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/research/researchexternal.htm” http://www.racerocks.com/racerock/research/researchexternal.htm).

The area has cultural significance to local First Nations. The XwaYeN (Race Rocks) area is claimed traditional territory for at least four Coast Salish First Nations people; Beecher Bay First Nation, T’Sou-ke Nation, Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation. The term “XwaYeN” is from the Klallem language for the place called Race Rocks. XwaYeN (Race Rocks) is believed to be the gateway to the Salish Sea and is seen as an icon of the region, ecosystem and traditional territories of the Salish people.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) provides opportunities for recreational activities as well as public awareness and education on its unique ecological features. With its close proximity to urban areas, Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is independently accessed by the public for boating, fishing, diving and wildlife viewing. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has gained worldwide attention by divers for its marine diversity as well as its walls, pinnacles, crevices and high currents. While divers enjoy the underwater ecosystem, tourists and researchers to the area have engaged in marine wildlife viewing, typically between the months of April to October. The important tidal upwelling due to the unique bathymetric features at Race Rocks (XwaYeN), acts as a haven for a significant assortment of flora and fauna.
Purpose and Scope

The purpose of this Management Plan is to outline Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s
(DFO’s) plan to manage activities in the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA. This Management Plan is guided by legislative and Regulatory context, and forms a framework to put the legislation and Regulations into practice.

Legislative Authority for the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA

Canada’s Oceans Act (1996) (Box 1), provides the legal basis for the Federal Government to lead and facilitate the designation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) to protect commercial and non-commercial species, including marine mammals and their habitats, areas of high biodiversity and productivity, endangered and threatened species and unique areas. The Act contains provisions for the designation of MPAs and prescribing measures, including:
Zoning of MPAs
Prohibiting classes of activities within MPAs, and
Any other matter consistent with the purpose of the designation.
In 1999, DFO released a Marine Protected Areas Policy, outlining Canada’s commitment to developing a network of marine protected areas. The 2005 Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy was developed to implement a federal network of marine protected areas that are managed within an integrated oceans management framework. The strategy calls for collaboration in managing and monitoring these areas, and for increasing awareness, understanding and participation of Canadians in marine protected areas. The Oceans Act provides for the conservation and protection of unique habitats and marine areas of high biodiversity and production.

Race Rocks was designated an Ecological Reserve in 1980 by the Government of British Columbia under the authority of the Ecological Reserves Act. Under the Ecological Reserve designation, only non-consumptive use is permitted; the area was closed to both commercial and recreational fisheries by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). In September 1998, Race Rocks was proposed as a Pilot MPA (Area of Interest) by DFO. It is important to note, that the selection of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as a proposed MPA preceded the current framework for selecting Areas of Interest (AOI), which requires areas to be identified as either ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSA) or areas that contain ecologically significant species (ESS). Under the Oceans Act, Race Rocks (XwaYeN), meets the criteria set out in paragraphs 35(1)(a), (b) and (d) (inserted box below).

In 2004, Race Rocks became a Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA), and part of the network that consists of 164 sites coast-wide. RCAs are designated to protect inshore rockfish and lingcod, and their habitat, from recreational and commercial fishing pressures. The RCA designation prohibits any fishing activities (both recreational and commercial) that would harm rockfish stocks. Race Rocks was selected as a RCA because the island and surrounding seabed were already listed as an Ecological Reserve and the complex geography of the area provides ideal habitat for inshore rockfish.

Linkages with other Legislation and Authorities

Federal Legislation and Authorities

Fisheries Act (DFO)
The Fisheries Act provides DFO the authority to manage freshwater and marine fisheries throughout Canada, including providing for licensing and enforcement and provisions for closing areas to fishing, prohibiting the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat or the deposit of substances deleterious to fish. Violation of the Fisheries Act may carry significant fines and/or imprisonment upon conviction.

Canada Shipping Act / Navigable Waters Protection Act (TC)
Transport Canada, along with the Canadian Coast Guard, is responsible for administering the provisions of the Canada Shipping Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act which includes regulation of navigation, as well as ship source pollution prevention, including control of ballast water. Transport Canada works with industry and the public to regulate, promote and enforce safe, secure, efficient and sustainable marine practices. The Department oversees the safety, security and marine infrastructure of small vessels, large commercial vessels and pleasure craft; regulates the safe transport of dangerous goods by water; helps protect the marine environment; and fosters marine transportation efficiency through the establishment of a marine marketplace framework. Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is located in close proximity to a major shipping lane for vessels destined to Vancouver or Seattle, both of which are busy seaports. Industry vessels are expected to comply with all relevant legislation and shipping best practices.

Species at Risk Act (EC/DFO/PC)
In 2003, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) was enacted by the federal government to protect species at risk and their critical habitat. SARA is jointly administered by DFO, EC and Parks Canada Agency; the Minister of DFO is responsible for aquatic species at risk; EC is the federal lead for coastal migratory bird species at risk. The Act protects species identified as endangered or threatened through prohibitions against harming, harassing, capturing, taking or killing an individual, and against destroying its residence or critical habitat. The Act also requires the development of recovery and management plans. These documents outline short-term and long-term goals for protecting and recovering species at risk. Race Rocks is home to two species that have been listed under SARA: 1) Northern Abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana) (Threatened),

Canadian Environmental Protection Act (NEB)
Legislated in 1999, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) aims to prevent pollution and to protect the environment, including the marine environment, and human health by preventing and managing risks posed by toxic and other harmful substances. The Act provides for establishment of national guidelines for monitoring dredged and excavated material at ocean disposal sites, interim marine and estuarine water quality guidelines, water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life, disposal at sea and control of land-based sources of pollution, offshore oil and gas, and toxic substances.

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA), reporting to the Minister of Environment, require environmental considerations, alongside social and economic considerations, are taken into account in all federal decisions respecting policies, plans, programs and projects in a manner that supports balanced, integrated decision-making and progress toward sustainable development. The Agency also supports oceans-sector-related research projects such as integrated assessment of ecosystem impacts due to climate change in coastal communities and evaluating biodiversity in marine environmental assessments.

Provincial Legislation and Authorities

Ecological Reserves Act
In 1980, the province of British Columbia, under the authority of the provincial Ecological Reserves Act, established the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. This provided protection of the terrestrial natural and cultural heritage values (nine islets) and of the ocean seabed (to the 20 fathoms/36.6 metre contour line). Ocean dumping, dredging and the extraction of non-renewable resources are not permitted within the boundaries of the Ecological Reserve. However, the Ecological Reserve cannot provide for the conservation and protection of the water column or for the living resources inhabiting the coastal waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN).

BC Parks leases to the Canadian Coast Guard, a division of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the envelope of land around the light tower, which also includes the vertical solar panels and fog horn.

Local Authorities

The Race Rocks MPA is within the Capital Regional District, with the District of Metchosin having boundaries that are just inland from Race Rocks. In the District of Metchosin, through its Official Community Plan, the community has identified much of the mainland shore area as sensitive shore line areas and protected it under special municipal zoning. Issues associated with the Community Charter and the Official Community Planning and construction of buildings or business ventures on the islands may involve input from the local government. In addition, in Metchosin’s OCP the Whirl Bay, Rocky Point and Bentinck Island Group are listed as potential or future park areas.

Additional Federal, Provincial or Territorial Authorities

Department of National Defence (DND)
The Department of National Defence has a major presence in the oceans sector and contributes to the government’s maritime sovereignty objective through its maritime forces and institutions across the country. DND has a lead role with respect to national security issues in Canada’s ocean areas.

Background
General Location and MPA Boundaries

The Race Rocks (XwaYeN) Marine Protected Area (MPA) is 268.5 hectares in size and encompasses the majority of seamounts surrounding Great Race (largest of the islets) (Figure ?). The Race Rocks MPA will include the marine waters within an approximation of the 36.5 meter depth contour surrounding but not including the nine islets. The internal boundary is limited to the seaward side of the low tide contour for each of the islets. The sea floor is not included as it is within the authority of the province of British Columbia and is managed under the Ecological Reserve Act. There is no zoning within the Race Rocks MPA.

Figure ?: Race Rocks (XwaYeN) Marine Protected Area with boundary coordinates.

Recent Conservation Initiatives
1980
Province of British Columbia (under the Ecological Reserves Act), established the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.
1990
Seasonal fisheries closures under the Fisheries Act, restricting all commercial fishing of finfish and shellfish in the area
1991
Race Rocks Lighthouse became a Recognized Federal Heritage Building
1997
Canada’s Oceans Act came into force, including the establishment of the Oceans Management Strategy (OMS).
1998
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announces four “pilot” MPA initiatives including Race Rocks.
1998
Canada/BC MPA strategy implemented.
1999
Northern abalone (Halliotis kamischatkana) designated as a threatened marine species by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC); waters surrounding Race Rocks are an important nursery and recruitment area for this species.
1999 (Dec)
Establishment of the Race Rocks Advisory Board (RRAB).
1999
DFO released a Marine Protected Areas Policy
2000
(March 22)
RRAB made recommendations including a governance model, voluntary compliance/best practices guidelines and for Race Rocks be a joint federal/provincial MPA named X’waYeN (Race Rocks)
2000
(Sept. 14)
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the BC Minister of Environment Lands and Parks announced endorsement of Race Rocks to become Canada’s first Oceans Act MPA.
2000
(Oct. 28)
Draft designation regulation for Race Rocks pre-published in Part1 of the Canada Gazette.
(during 60 day public comment period)
Chiefs of three of the Race Rocks FN intervened, expressing their opposition to the MPA designation.
2002
Canada Gazette regulatory package expired

However, the Ecological Reserve cannot provide for the conservation and protection of the water column or for the living resources inhabiting the coastal waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN).

The Oceans Strategy isbased on the principles of sustainable development, integrated management and the precautionary approach. This policy, established under the auspices of the Oceans Act also provides authority for the development of tools necessary to carry out the Oceans Strategy, tools such as the establishment of Marine Protected Areas. This federal authority complements the previously established protection afforded by the Ecological Reserve, by affording protection and conservation measures to the living marine resources.

By establishing a MPA within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area, a more comprehensive level of conservation and protection for the ecosystem can be achieved than by an Ecological Reserve on its own. The designation of this MPA encompassing the Ecological Reserve facilitates the integration and increases the synergy of conservation, protection and management initiatives under the respective authorities of the two governments.

Additional protection measures have taken place in and around the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area including seasonal fisheries closures under the Fisheries Act, restricting all commercial fishing of finfish and shellfish in the area since 1990. Recreational harvesting of salmon and halibut and harvesting of non-commercial species continue, but much of that activity has been curtailed after the designation of a Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) around Race Rocks (XwaYeN) in 2004. The prohibition of living marine resource harvesting along with an Oceans Act MPA designation provides a longer-term commitment to the conservation and protection of the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecosystem.

The Race Rocks Advisory Board (RRAB) was established to assist DFO and BC Parks with consultations and the development of consensus-based recommendations for designation and management of the MPA. The Race Rocks Public Advisory Board (RRPAB) is composed of community representatives and Race Rocks stakeholders including Pearson College (who presently funds and provides the Ecoguardian at Great Race), private businesses, recreational users, the education sector, research interests, the Ecological Reserve Volunteer Warden and several conservation/environmental protection groups.

MPA Establishment Process

2004
Designation of a Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) around Race Rocks
2005
Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy developed.
2009
Establishment of Race Rocks Public Advisory Board (RRPAB)
2010
DFO and First Nations (T’Sou-ke Nation, Songhees Nation and Beecher Bay First Nation) signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

Ecological Overview and Assessment

In 2001, a comprehensive assessment of the physical and biological systems of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) was completed by Wright and Pringle (2001). The 2001 report provides an extensive ecological overview describing the geological, physical oceanographic and biological components of Race Rocks (XwaYeN) and the surrounding waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca at the time. Natural history observations and some traditional knowledge were also included. An updated EOAR was produced in 2010, to supplement the existing ecological overview by summarising new information collected in the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) area since 2001 and describe any changes to trends in species distributions and oceanographic conditions.
Economic, Social and Cultural Overview and Assessment

An economic, social and cultural overview assessment was conducted to review human activities that were undertaken in the proposed MPA or that are likely to be undertaken in the established MPA in the future. Human activities that take place in close proximity to the MPA and may influence activities within the MPA were also investigated. In general, the marine ecosystem within this area is known for its exceptional diversity which is of importance to commercial and recreational fisheries in adjacent areas. Activities were organized into three specific categories; 1) commercial activities, 2) neighbouring marine traffic, and 3) non-commercial activities.

Commercial activities include commercial shipping, Coast Guard, Canadian Military, fisheries and aquaculture. Increased inbound and outbound deep sea traffic is related to freight demands at the ports served as well as investments of the ports to increase their efficiency and expand their capacity. Most of the business for the Canadian Coast guard in the Race Rocks area is serving marine wildlife viewing, sport fishing and diving vessels which is closely related to population growth in the CRD and areas resulting in increased demand for coast guard services. DND’s military buffer zone, partially overlapped with the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA, is anticipated to continue the activities of training, demolition and ammunition depot.

Tourism and recreation, primarily ocean-based outdoor activities include boating, angling, wildlife viewing, kayaking and diving. In January of 2009, Tourism BC concluded that BC was considered the most appealing ocean destination in North America which clearly indicates the potential demand for ocean activities on the BC coast among resident and visitor markets.

Pearson College, an educational institution manages the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve under an agreement with BC and focuses on community outreach programming. Research and education activities, subject to review and approval by the Race Rocks Operating Committee (BC Parks and Pearson College), require a permit and all research materials and results must be made available as public information.

There are two alternative energy projects associated with Race Rocks, including the solar panel project and the tidal energy project
Management Framework

In 1997, the Oceans Act provided Fisheries and Oceans Canada with a leading and coordinating role in the development of a cooperative and collaborative approach to a network of federal marine protected areas in Canada. In 2005, the Government of Canada launched a comprehensive Oceans Action Plan (OAP) to coordinate and implement oceans activities, and to sustainably develop and manage our oceans. The implementation of Canada’s Oceans Strategy, having the overarching goal to “ensure healthy, safe and prosperous oceans for the benefit of current and future generations of Canadians”. Under the Health of the Oceans pillar of the OAP, several activities are identified including the development of a Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy. The Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy defines a marine protected areas network as: “a set of complementary and ecologically linked marine protected areas, consisting of a broad spectrum of marine protected areas, established and managed within a sustainable ocean management planning framework and linked to transboundary, global and terrestrial protected area networks”.

The resultant conservation and management objectives provide guidance for the effective implementation of the Regulations and will assist in management of activities within the MPA.
(Placeholder for National Framework for Canada’s Network of MPAs and Canada-BC MPA Network Strategy)

Guiding Principles

GUIDING PRINCIPLE
DESCRIPTION
Integrated Management (IM)
A collaborative, flexible and transparent planning and management process recognizing shared responsibility of governments, Aboriginal groups, coastal communities, industry and others to support the sustainability of our marine resources.
Ecosystem Approach
Recognition of the complexity of ecosystems and the interconnections and energy flows among their component parts.
Precautionary Principle
Decisions and actions on conservation measures can and will be taken in the absence of scientific certainty.
Respecting Aboriginal Peoples
In addition to constitutionally protected Aboriginal and treaty rights as well as land claims agreements, the federal government is committed to working with affected Aboriginal Peoples to collaboratively plan, establish and manage marine protected areas.
Knowledge Based
The integration and use of both scientific and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), which includes Aboriginal, local and historical sources of information, can contribute significantly to the identification, development and management of an effective federal marine protected areas network.
Consultation and Collaboration
Mechanisms for gathering of information, increasing public awareness, conducting research, and ensuring participation of those with an interest or role to play in marine protected areas planning and management will be established to improve collaboration and cooperation amongst partners.
Public Awareness, Education and Stewardship
Engaging Canadians in the development of marine protected areas and their network include ocean stewardship activities that contribute to capacity building, increasing public awareness and understanding of ocean conservation issues as well as the development of constituencies that support the marine protected areas network.
Management Effectiveness
The evaluation of the outcomes of a particular marine protected area measured against specific objectives.
Adaptive Management
Evaluation of management effectiveness and applying new science knowledge to adjust management regimes in order to continue meeting marine protected area objectives.

Conservation Objectives
Conservation objectives are statements, expressed in broad terms, which describe aspirations for the ecological feature(s) of the MPA. To ensure that the MPA Regulations and management measures are effective, there must be a standard against which they can be evaluated. The conservation objective, developed by DFO with input from the RRPAB, provides that standard.

To protect and conserve an area of high biological productivity and biodiversity, providing habitat for fish and marine mammals, including threatened and endangered species.
MPA Management Objectives

Management principles and objectives identify priorities for management that support the achievement of the conservation objective.

Impacts from human activities in the area will not compromise the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem function of the Race Rocks Marine Protected Area.

Build a knowledge base to define and understand biodiversity and ecosystem function, using best science and TEK/LEK.

Monitor biodiversity and ecosystem function.

Monitor and evaluate management effectiveness to ensure management is contributing toward achievement of overarching Conservation Objective.

Management Strategies
(Note the following is a list of the TYPE of management strategies that will be considered to meet the conservation objectives)

Principles developed in Canada’s National Policy and Operational Framework for Integrated Management and the Oceans Act were the basis for determining the development of strategies for the Race Rocks MPA

Assess, identify and mitigate impacts of human activities on:
populations and ecosystem dynamics
unique and vulnerable species and habitats, including migratory species
to the physical and chemical qualities of surrounding waters and sediments
Review existing Best Management Practices and guidelines to integrate them into MPA approvals as appropriate.
Apply adaptive management of human activities based on assessments and mitigation measures identified.
Identify priority habitats and species for recovery and restoration
Recommend mechanisms for recovery and restoration of degraded habitats and species of concern
Identify knowledge gaps and establish research priorities and protocols
Support and undertake inventories, surveys to contribute to monitoring to systematically expand the understanding of the ecosystem based on established research priorities
Establish ecological benchmarks and thresholds for assessing changes in population, community and ecosystem dynamics, including impacts of human activities
Document First Nations traditional knowledge, local ecological knowledge and scientific knowledge
Utilize existing or develop information sharing protocols between agencies, user groups and other organizations
Develop relationships with the research community working on relevant issues
Build awareness in Stakeholder communities as well as other regulators to achieve compliance with the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA conservation objectives.
Educate and inform stakeholders of existing regulations and policies relevant to the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) Marine Protected Area (e.g. Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations)
Identify and utilize opportunities for public engagement
Partner with user groups to reach visiting public and international tourist in order to convey messaging of conservation and protection
Apply BMPs, guidelines and mitigation measures appropriate to minimize impact of awareness related activities
Management Measures / Output

Management measures are the practical tools and procedures to be used by DFO to achieve conservation and management objectives and help gauge the effectiveness of the MPA.

Compatible Activities:
First Nations harvest of fish. Honouring constitutionally protected rights. Agreements being pursued with First Nations include fisheries management related work and communications, with respect to Race Rocks.
Wildlife viewing in the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as well as on the islets themselves following the guidelines produced for observing marine wildlife, “BeWhaleWise” (2009), stating boaters should slow down to speeds less than 7 knots when within 400 metres of a whale, keep clear of the whales path and do not position the vessel closer than 100 metres to any whale ( HYPERLINK “http://www.BeWhaleWise.org” www.BeWhaleWise.org). These guidelines also apply when observing pinnipeds and birds on land. These guidelines were developed to minimize <>human impacts to marine wildlife while allowing for viewing opportunities.
Private recreational boating, subject to adherence to guidelines
SCUBA diving, when undertaken with minimal impact to marine life. PADI project AWARE (2007) has developed guidelines for divers to protect the underwater environment while diving. Low impact diving would involve not collecting any living or dead organisms, ensuring that the diver’s buoyancy level is appropriate so as not to disturb the seafloor, not feeding or disturbing marine wildlife, and ensuring that dive vessels do not set an anchor line onto the substrate.
Research activities that contribute to the scientific knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystem function are compatible with the conservation objectives of this area. All parties interested in conducting scientific research within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecological reserve require a BC Ecological Reserve permit and clearance from the Province of BC (administered by Pearson College).
Scientific monitoring and surveillance activities carried out to monitor marine life as well as those activities directed towards conservation and protection. Along the south coast of BC, overflights for pinniped stock assessment and creel surveys take place. This work is, at times necessary to achieve the conservation objectives of the MPA and to measure changes to the ecosystem and its functions.
Educational activities, subject to guidelines as appropriate, relating to school group tours (akin to ecotourism) and student led research projects (akin to Scientific Research), subject to activity approvals.

Incompatible Activities/ Threats
Commercial and recreational fishing and other resource extraction activities.
Harassment of wildlife through wildlife viewing.
The island of Great Race and the seabed nearby contain a number of manmade structures. These structures were built before the establishment of the MPA. These include the historic lighthouse, housing and power generation facilities on Great Race as well as the turbine and infrastructure used by the tidal current project to generate environmentally sustainable electricity. Further development within the MPA boundary is not compatible with the conservation objectives for the MPA.

Governance

DFO has the primary responsibility for the protection and management of the Race Rocks MPA. However, the Race Rocks MPA overlaps with the existing Ecological Reserve (ER) and as such, requires the coordination of a number of government agencies to implement relevant legislation and guidelines.

Collaborative Governance

The Oceans, Habitat and Enhancement Branch (OHEB) is the lead organization within DFO for the management of Race Rocks. However, a collaborative approach to managing the activities in the MPA will be required. A tripartite coordination between federal government, provincial government and First nations is coordinated under committees such as the Oceans Coordination Committee (OCC), Marine Protected Area Implementation Team (MPAIT), Regional Committee on Oceans Management (RCOM), Pacific Inter-Departmental Oceans Committee (PIOC) and the Government-First Nations Management Board (GFNMB). In addition, other government departments and agencies, MPA users and other individuals with an interest in the MPA play important roles in meeting the objectives for the MPA and implementing the management plan.

MPA Advisory Board
Government-First Nations Management Board (GFNMB)

(SEE CONSULTATIONS DOC)

Roles and Responsibilities

This section provides an overview of the activities related to the administration of the MPA and identifies roles and responsibilities of DFO, other government departments, and……… Government and non-government organizations play a role in managing the Race Rocks MPA and ensuring it is protected for future generations (SEE FIGURE IN GULLYMP pg 57 – circles). There are roles and responsibilities related to legal requirement for both government departments and users of the area. However, others with an interest in the MPA can play a role through providing advice on management, research guidelines, undertaking outreach, or participating in stewardship activities in the MPA. (Table?) The ongoing participation and involvement of a variety of federal and provincial government bodies, industry and public interests is essential to the protection of the Race Rocks ecosystem.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

DFO is the lead authority for oceans management in Canada and coordinates federal programs, policies and management strategies related to Race Rocks. As the lead authority for the Race Rocks MPA, DFO has the primary responsibility for its protection and management. The Oceans, Habitat and Enhancement Branch (OHEB) is the lead organisation within DFO Pacific Region. Using an integrated management approach, OHEB will serve an overall facilitation and coordination function for implementation of the management plan and management of the Race Rocks MPA.
Section 32 of the Oceans Act provides the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans with the authority to establish, designate or recognise advisory bodies. The post-designation Race Rocks MPA Advisory Board, comprised of key partners and stakeholders with interests in the management of the MPA) has been formed. The role of this MPA Advisory Board is:
Advise on management plan development;
Participate in monitoring programs, review of protocols and data collection (i.e. where local/coastal communities and oceans users have pertinent expertise, such as providing experiential, local and traditional ecological knowledge of the MPA ecosystem);
Provide advice on adapting the management plan and monitoring strategy, where necessary;
Share progress reports with broader stakeholder community;
Review annual work plans and performance reports; and
Help promote compliance through awareness raising with interest groups.
Department of National Defence

The Department of National Defence’s (DND) military buffer zone for the WQ (Whiskey Quebec) military training area is partially located in the waters of the proposed Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA. While training activities do not take place within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) MPA boundary, Bentinck Island, located approximately 2 km away, is a blasting training site in the use of explosives for the Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt.
Province of British Columbia

For over 30 years, BC Parks has been engaged with the protection of Race Rocks through the establishment of Race Rocks as an Ecological Reserve (ER). While the ER includes the islets and sea floor, it does not include the federally controlled water column.

collaborative management between MPA and ER
highlight linkages
First Nations

The area has cultural significance to local First Nations. The XwaYeN (Race Rocks) area is claimed traditional territory for at least four Coast Salish First Nations people; Beecher Bay First Nation, T’Sou-ke Nation, Songhees Nation and Esquimalt Nation. The term “XwaYen” is from the Klallem language for the place called Race Rocks. The nutrient rich waters of this area provided a wide diversity of food fishing opportunities year round. XwaYeN (Race Rocks) is believed to be the gateway to the Salish Sea and is seen as an icon of the region, ecosystem and traditional territories of the Salish people.

Pearson College Any and all research or educational activities to take place in the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecological reserve require a permit issued by BC Parks. Pearson College acts on behalf of the province of BC, as custodians of the ecological reserve, administering research permits and monitoring access to Rack Rocks (XwaYeN).

Monitoring and Reporting on Management Effectiveness
Research and Monitoring Strategy

Research and monitoring activities carried out as part of SARA action plans will be beneficial for increasing the understanding of the Race Rocks ecosystem. Conversely, research and surveillance activities carried out to manage the MPA may also be beneficial for assessing compliance with SARA and promoting the recovery of particular at-risk species.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has been used as a field site for scientific research and education by Pearson College as well as other researchers. Currently, all parties interested in conducting scientific research within the Race Rocks (XwaYeN) ecological reserve require a BC Ecological Reserve permit and clearance from the Province of BC (administered by Pearson College). The role played by the Eco-Guardian at Race Rocks provides a great opportunity for partnering to help achieve monitoring goals. Research activities that contribute to the scientific knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystem function are compatible with the conservation objectives of this area, subject to activity plan approval.

Public Awareness, Education and Stewardship

To meet the MPA Management Objectives as described in section 3.3 (3. a-c), Race Rocks (XwaYeN) will provide opportunities for recreational activities as well as public awareness and education on its unique ecological features. This section describes the overall approach to providing information on the Race Rocks MPA to affected user groups and all Canadians.

With its close proximity to urban areas, Race Rocks is accessible to many people, providing a unique opportunity to showcase a coastal marine protected area, increasing public awareness and providing educational opportunities.

For the MPA to be successfully managed, it is important that the public, particularly affected user groups, area aware of the MPA designation and Regulations. Outreach and education activities will be directed to improve compliance with the Race Rocks Regulations.
To contribute to the successful implementation of a network of MPAs in Canada, those involved with the establishment of MPAs in other parts of the country should be aware of the process taken with Race Rocks and the challenges that were faced. The lessons learned from the designation of the Race Rocks MPA will be documented and shared with colleagues and the public.

ACTIVITIES

OUTREACH MATERIALS

CURRICULUM MATERIALS

MATERIALS FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC

NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL AWARENESS

RaceRocks.com
Pearson College, in addressing the concern about environmental impacts from site visits during the 1980s and 1990s, launched a website in 2000 to support non-commercial education through live streaming video.

Tourism and Recreation

With its close proximity to urban areas, Race Rocks (XwaYeN) is independently accessed by the public for boating, diving and wildlife viewing. Boaters may use the waters surrounding Race Rocks (XwaYeN) as a thoroughfare to other areas, shelter from the elements, as a reference point for navigation, or a general point of interest.

Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has been recognized as an important sport fishing destination since western settlement with anglers seeking Pacific salmon, halibut, lingcod, rockfish, prawns and crabs.

Since 1900, Race Rocks (XwaYeN) has gained worldwide attention by divers for its marine diversity as well as its walls, pinnacles, crevices and high currents. While divers enjoy the underwater ecosystem, tourists and researchers to the area have engaged in marine wildlife viewing, typically between the months of April to October. The important tidal upwelling due to the unique bathymetric features at Race Rocks (XwaYeN), acts as a haven for a significant assortment of flora and fauna (Figure 5).

Management Plan Review

The current management plan is intended to guide management of the Race Rocks MPA from (year) to (year). EXAMPLE ONLY

Surveillance, Enforcement and Compliance

Surveillance, Enforcement and Compliance planning for Race Rocks (XwaYen) MPA will be developed consistent with DFOs National Oceans Act Marine Protected Area Compliance and Enforcement Policy currently being developed. A coordinated approach between DFO and BC Parks to compliance and enforcement is required for the MPA given its existing Ecological Reserve status.
Specific Roles and Responsibilities

As the lead federal authority for the MPA, DFO will have overall responsibility for ensuring that the Regulations and conservation measures are respected and enforced, while other agencies also have accountabilities under their own mandates in the area (Province of BC). DFO’s role is undertaken through the Department’s legislated enforcement mandate and responsibilities under the Oceans Act, the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act and other federal legislation covering fisheries conservation, environmental protection, habitat protection and marine safety. DFO also provides a leadership and coordination role for broader inter-agency surveillance, monitoring and enforcement activities in support of the MPA. Under this coordinated approach, the primary means of the Departmental enforcement presence will be through an already existing surveillance program.

In addition, BC Parks has a management contract with Pearson College of the Pacific to provide a 24 hour a day resident EcoGuardian at the Ecological Reserve. Wherever possible, DFO should strive to work cooperatively with BC Parks and the designated EcoGuardian to achieve surveillance and compliance objectives.

DFO fishery officers will work together with other law enforcement personnel (or enforcement officers so designated by the Minister according to section 39 of the Oceans Act) to ensure that the proposed management actions and regulations for the area are respected. Enforcement of the regulations and subsequent offences will be dealt with under sections 37 and 38 of the Oceans Act.
Submission and Evaluation of Activity Plans (Example ONLY)

Scientific Monitoring and Research

DFO wishes to encourage research at the Race Rocks MPA while meeting its conservation objectives. Research in the Race Rocks MPA has a dual identity: first, as a human use with potential impacts which management measures seek to address; and second, as a generator of data, knowledge and information valuable for the adaptive management of the MPA. A research strategy will be developed to include monitoring protocols and be regularly updated.
Surveillance, Enforcement and Compliance

Enforcement officers are charged with enforcing all of the provisions out the Oceans Act, including all MPA Regulations. Violations of the MPA Regulations carry penalties under the Oceans Act, while contraventions of licences and consent issued for foreign vessel access can result in charges under the Fisheries Act and under the Coasting Trade Act. Upon conviction, the courts may impose fines and prison terms for offences under each of these Acts.

The following is a list of responses available to deal with alleged violations of provisions of MPA Regulations of the Oceans Act:
Warnings;
Orders recommended by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and
Injunctions;
Alternative measures to prosecution; and
Prosecutions.

The primary means of surveillance and enforcement in the MPA is through DFO’s Conservation and Protection Program. In addition to its general MPA enforcement activities, DFO is responsible for fisheries enforcement matters related to the MPA. Fisheries violations can result in charges under both the Fisheries Act and the Oceans Act as Fishery Officers are designated as enforcement officers under both pieces of legislation.

The enforcement provisions of the Species at Risk Act may also be used in support of the MPA when dealing with listed species. Fishery Officers are designated as enforcement officers for the Species at Risk Act and violations may result in charges under this legislation, as appropriate.

REFERENCES AND RELATED MATERIAL

Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations. Canada Gazette Part 1, Vol. 139, No. 24, June 11, 2005. Available online: “http://www.canadagazette.gc.ca/archives/p1/2005/2005-06-11/pdf/g1-13924.pdf” <
Canada’s Federal Marine Protected Areas Strategy, Government of Canada. 2005.

Oceans Act Marine Protected Area Regulations, Compliance and Enforcement Policy – May 2010 Draft

Race Rocks Area of Interest Regulatory Intent Statement. Working copy of the Draft Regulatory Intent for Race Rocks MPA, August 2010.

Socio-Economic Base Case Update for Race Rocks Proposed Marine Protected Area. Prepared for DFO – Habitat Management Division, March 31, 2009 by R. Sunderman, Peak Solutions Consulting Inc.

The Role of the Canadian Government in the Oceans Sector. Fisheries and Oceans Canada.2009.

Wiring Diagrams to Illustrate the Oceans Act MPA Designation Process and Management Responsiblities. Prepared by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Oceans Sector for the Race Rocks Public Advisory Board, May 18, 2010.
PAGE 22

Doug Biffard: Is this an accurate reflection of the authority of BC Parks and the roles and responsibilities of Pearson as custodians?
Needs reference

Race Rocks Marine Protected Area Designation: A Social, Economic, and Cultural Overview

 Ryan J Murphy and Raïsa Mirza Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, Victoria, BC :Race Rocks Marine Protected Area Designation: A Social, Economic, and Cultural Overview

See the final version submitted in PDF form here:
RRSocio-cultural-Murphyand-Mirza

also originally here:http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/344920.pdf

November 2010
Prepared for:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Habitat Management Division
Suite #200-401 Burrard St. Vancouver, BC V6C 3S4

Internal Draft Submitted November 8, 2010

Table of Contents

1.  Introduction
  1.1 Background
  1.2 Purpose and Approach
  1.3 Local Area Defined
  1.4 Report Organization
2. Resource Value and Management
  2.1 Governance


2.1.1. Federal Government 7


2.1.2. Provincial Government 8


2.1.3. Local Government 8


2.1.4. Public Involvement  9
  2.2 Cultural and Social Value


2.2.1. Canadian Heritage 9


2.2.2. Historical Significance 10


2.2.3 Architectural Significance  10


2.2.4. Environmental Values  10


2.2.5. Stewardship 13


2.2.6. Education and Research 14


2.2.7. Ecosystem Services and Valuation  15




3. Communities and other Stakeholders 
  3.1 Local Demographic Trends 15 
  3.2 Socioeconomic Sectors and Activities 17 

3.2.1. Recreational Boating 17 

3.2.2. Kayaking 18 

3.2.3. Sportfishing 19

3.2.4. Wildlife Viewing 20 

3.2.5. SCUBA diving  22

3.2.6. Race Rocks Administration  22

3.2.7. Research  23

3.2.8. Education and Outreach  25
4. Values at Risk Analysis
  4.1 User Conflicts 26 

4.1.1. Department of National Defense  26

4.1.2. Wildlife Viewing  30

4.1.3. Ecological Reserve Management  31

4.1.4. Canadian Coast Guard  31
  4.2 Potential Impacts of MPA designation 31 
  4.3 Sustainable Development 35 
 5. Reference List 


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1. INTRODUCTION

Background

An area of interest (AOI) approximating the current Rockfish Conservation Area around the Race Rocks archipelago is being assessed as a potential marine protected area (MPA) under Canada’s Oceans Act (Figure 1). Race Rocks represents a transition zone between the Pacific Ocean and coastal waters and is renowned for its exceptional marine biodiversity and biological productivity. The AOI represents important habitat for threatened marine mammal, seabird, fish, and invertebrate species. Establishment of a MPA at Race Rocks will be the first in what is hoped to be network of coastal marine protected areas (BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection 2002).

Protection and conservation measures have been in place for the terrestrial ecosystem (nine islets) and the ocean bottom (to 20 fathoms) since 1980 when the Province of British Columbia designated Race Rocks as an ecological reserve under the Ecological Reserves Act. The ecological reserve was established to protect a provincially significant high current ecosystem as a result of a proposal by Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (the College); the College has managed the reserve since 1997 and has maintained a human presence to monitor the ecosystem and provide educational and research opportunities. The purpose of the ecological reserve was “to preserve for educational and research purposes, one of B.C.’s most biologically rich, marine ecosystems” (Fletcher et al. 1980). All activities in the ecological reserve are subject to review and approval by an Operating Committee comprising BC Parks and the College.

MPA designation of Race Rocks will provide additional protection of the high biodiversity of marine species and their habitat as well as further support ongoing resource management, public education, research and environmental monitoring at the ecological reserve. Resource preservation issues such as the protection of critical habitat for Rockfish (Sebastes spp.), Northern abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana), Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) and other species identified under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) are current management priorities.

Both federal and provincial governments have committed to a Marine Protected Areas Strategy to establish a system of marine protected areas including the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve (BC Ministry of Water, Land, and Air Protection, 2002). However, the diverse marine environments of the Pacific Coast are not well represented in current Canadian protected areas systems.

Purpose and Approach

Socioeconomic base line reports have been commissioned for the Race Rocks AOI as part of the MPA designation process in 1999 and again in 2009. The purpose of this report is to edit and expand upon the 2009 Socio-Economic Base Case Update for Race Rocks Proposed Marine Protected Area by Randy Sunderman, Peak Solutions Consulting Inc. This document is intended to be a brief and concise summary of socioeconomic data for the Race Rocks AOI to ensure that key information is available for the MPA designation process. This work presents a snapshot of the activities and stakeholder communities involved with Race Rocks with a focus on potential user conflicts and sustainable use of the marine environment. Spatial-temporal trends in human activities that take place in close proximity to the AOI and may influence activities within the MPA are also presented. Information collected here will contribute to a larger Socio-economic and Cultural Overview and Assessment (SECOA) and Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA).

Activities that have not occurred and are now not allowed to take place according to Race Rocks’ existing ecological reserve status are excluded from this report. Specifically, actions from mineral exploration and mining, forestry, and oil and gas sectors are not investigated. Finally, First Nation interests in and around the AOI are not covered in this report. First Nation traditional uses, economic activities, demographic trends, and cultural importance are covered in a separate report.

Local Area Defined

The Race Rocks archipelago sits 17 km southwest of Victoria at 48.29917oN latitude and 123.53083oW longitude, 1.5km south of the southern tip of Vancouver Island in the Salish Sea. Race Rocks is positioned at the eastern end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is the southernmost part of Canada on the Pacific Coast. Race Rocks is part of the Juan de Fuca Electoral District; the nearest municipality is the District of Metchosin.

The Race Rocks ecological reserve established in 1980 was expanded in 2001 to include the majority of Great Race Rock and now covers 225 hectares of seabed (to a depth of 20 fathoms) and 2 hectares of terrestrial habitat (BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, 2002). An area of 0.144 hectares surrounding the lighthouse on Great Race Rock is under provincial Land Act lease to Canada Coast Guard and is not part of the ecological reserve.

The proposed Race Rocks Marine Protected Area’s boundary approximates the current (2010) Rockfish Conservation Area but is fixed to map coordinates instead of a depth contour. The MPA will consist of the marine waters that surround the nine islets up to the low tide mark, the land above this point will remain under the management of the provincial Ecological Reserve. Figure 1.1 highlights the Race proposed Marine Protected Area and the existing Ecological Reserve.

Figure 1.1: Current Marine Ecological Reserve and Proposed Marine Protected Area,
(Source: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

Report Organization

The report is organized in the following sections:
• Section 2 outlines the values resources in and current governance of the AOI. This section details administrative responsibilities, governance structure, and the cultural and historical value of resources in the AOI.
• Section 3 presents demographic profiles the Capital Regional District as well as sector activities profiles that include future outlook for socioeconomic sectors active in and around the AOI.
• Section 4 comprises a “Values at Risk” analysis of existing and potential user conflicts, potential impacts of MPA designation on community stakeholders, and sustainable development of the Race Rocks resource.

2. RESOURCE VALUE AND MANAGEMENT

2.1. Governance

2.1.1. Federal Government
The responsibility of the Federal Government in protecting the Race Rocks ecosystem falls under both its planning role under Canada’s Ocean Strategy and under its approval role of protecting fish and aquatic habitat, marine mammals, and migratory bird habitat. The Federal Government wishes to take on additional responsibilities for the Race Rocks Area of Interest with the designation of a Marine Protected Area. Federal government agencies that regulate or are involved in resource use, human use management, or other aspects relating to the establishment of an MPA at the Race Rocks AOI are: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, Parks Canada and the Department of National Defense.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Environment Canada (through the Canadian Wildlife Service) and Parks Canada share mandated responsibilities to create protected areas in Canada’s marine environment. DFO takes the lead in the development and implementation of the nation’s marine protected areas systems, incorporating programs of all three departments.

Fisheries and Oceans is mandated to protect and conserve marine resources and habitat, including implementation of programs to provide for the sustainable use of Canada’s marine resources. DFO is responsible under Canada’s Oceans Act for identifying potential marine protected areas, presenting management plans for marine protected areas to the federal cabinet, and drafting federal legislation to implement these areas. DFO is also responsible for navigable waters and environmental response services (through the Canadian Coast Guard), organisms in the water column, and for managing marine resources under both the Fisheries Act and the Oceans Act.

Environment Canada is mandated to preserve and enhance the quality of the natural environment. It has legislative authority to establish marine protected areas and to regulate land activities that affect protected areas in the offshore through the Migratory Birds Convention Act, Canada Wildlife Act, Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and the Species at Risk Act. The primary focus of Environment Canada is protecting major marine and nearshore areas for wildlife conservation, research and public education. Both the Canadian Wildlife Service and Canadian Environment Assessment Agency are under the regulatory mandate of Environment Canada and play a role in the implementation and/or maintenance of Marine Protected Areas.

Parks Canada is mandated to protect and present significant aspects of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage such that public understanding and appreciation ensures ecological and commemorative integrity for current and future generations. Parks Canada identifies and designates National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCA), National Historic Sites, and National Parks. The national system of marine protected areas that make up the NMCA Program are managed for sustainable use and may contain smaller zones of higher degrees of protection from ocean dumping, undersea mining, oil and gas exploration and development, and related activities. Marine Protected Areas designated by other federal programs can be considered part of the NMCA plan if conservation objectives align.

Finally, the Department of National Defense (DND) owns nearby Bentinck Island and nearby coastline as part of Canadian Forced Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Rocky Point. DND also makes use of waters and airspace surrounding the Race Rocks AOI for military purposes. DND is mandated to formulate and manage all aspects of defense policy, defense of Canadian interest and values, and contributing to international peace and security. DND is also tasked with assisting other government departments in achieving national goals.

At this point, the federal government is operating under the “umbrella” agreement of the current provincial Ecological Reserve Management plan that coordinates complementary marine protection initiatives under the Oceans Act.

2.1.2. Provincial Government

The provincial government of British Columbia is responsible for delivering coastal zone planning to address and land and resource use. The provincial government also approves and regulates aquaculture operations, oil and gas development, discharges into coastal waters, and can designate protected areas. Relevant legislation includes: Waste Management Act, Fisheries Act, Fish Protection Act, Wildlife Act, Petroleum and Natural Gas Act, Park Act, and the Ecological Reserve Act.

The responsibility for implementing the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve Management plan falls on BC Parks. This agency works cooperatively with First Nations to uphold treaty rights and incorporate their interests in management decisions. When management issues arise that require joint federal/provincial action, BC Parks coordinates participation of the appropriate provincial agency or agencies.

Currently, BC Parks leases an envelope of land around the lighthouse on Great Race Island to the Canadians Coast Guard (a division of Fisheries and Oceans Canada) that maintains a foghorn with solar panels and battery bank as a navigational aid.

2.1.3. Local Government

The Race Rocks AOI belongs to the Juan de Fuca Electoral District but represents important historical and ecological value shared by the District of Metchosin and the Capital Regional District. Local governments and municipalities prepare and implement regional and community plans that include the planning and provision of parks along coastal shores. The District of Metchosin’s Official Community Plan protects several sections of mainland shore under special municipal zoning and includes Bentinck Island, Rocky Point, and Whirl Bay as potential park areas (District of Metchosin, April 1994).

2.1.4. Public Involvement

As part of the Ecological Reserve Management plan, the province actively encourages community involvement in the stewardship of the resources present in the Race Rocks AOI. In 1997, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (the College) responded to the destaffing of the Canadian Coast Guard station by maintaining a year-round staff of Eco-Guardians living on site and facilitating the addition of the majority of Great Race Rock to the Ecological Reserve. The College has a longstanding position in the Race Rocks community from pre-designation of the Ecological Reserve (1980) to its current on-site management and involvement in the Marine Protected Area (MPA) process. The College currently manages the Ecological Reserve as part of a Joint Operating Committee with BC Parks, operating the facilities present on Great Race Rock with the primary objectives of:
-Protecting the ecological values of the island and surrounding ecosystem;
-Maximizing educational opportunities; and,
-Facilitating research.
This commitment gives the College unparalleled practical experience with and knowledge of Race Rocks, and has increased the College’s capacity to facilitate other community sectors in their use of this shared resource. Garry Fletcher, a community leader in Metchosin and former faculty at the College currently serves as the ecological reserve warden.

2.2. Cultural and Social Value

Human’s have valued and made documented use of the Race Rocks ecosystem for 1000 to 1500 years before present, with continual habitation stretching back 150 years. The resources contained within the Race Rocks AOI represent a diverse cross-section of Canadian values that include heritage preservation, education, recreation, and ecosystem conservation and valuation.

2.2.1. Canadian Heritage

The Race Rocks AOI has been an important area for resource gathering by First Nations. On the main island in the AOI, Great Race Rock, disturbed and 8 undisturbed First Nations burial cairns indicate the importance of Race Rocks to the ancestral Straits Salish peoples. These burial cairns date to ~AD 500 and are part of the late prehistoric mortuary landscape of southern Vancouver Island and are a physical reminder of a cultural heritage significant for all Canadians.
During the colonial period of British Columbia, Race Rocks was identified as a major navigational hazard for the fast-growing economies of the important ports of Vancouver, Seattle, and Victoria. As part of the response to increased marine traffic during the Fraser River Gold Rush, the Imperial Race Rocks lighthouse was the second constructed in British Columbia. The lighthouse that stands on Great Race Rock is the oldest granite lighthouse in British Columbia and along with Fisgard, is one of just two lighthouses constructed during the colonial period. Since 1991, the Race Rocks lighthouse has been a Recognized Federal Heritage building because of its historical significance, and for its architectural and environmental values.

2.2.2. Historical Significance

Race Rocks received its English name from the Hudson’s Bay Company because of the strong tidal flows that ‘race’ past the nine rocky islets. The islets’ location in the Juan de Fuca Strait meant the lighthouse constructed there was a significant aid to merchant and passenger ships heading to Victoria as well as naval vessels destined for Esquimalt. With the influx of settlers during the 1850s, Victoria quickly changed from a fur-trading fort to an incorporated city with associated increases in marine traffic dependent on the navigational aids on Great Race Rock.

Despite the imposing grandeur of the granite tower, ships caught in the strong oceanic currents or lost in the fog continued to run aground at Race Rocks. From the wreck of the Nanette three days before the lighthouse was first lit to the present day, the Race Rocks lightstation has witnessed many maritime disasters making it a significant part of the Graveyard of the Pacific. To help avert further loss of life and property, in 1927 Race Rocks became the first site on Canada’s West Coast to be fitted with a radio beacon.

2.2.3. Architectural Significance

As a navigational aid, the Race Rocks lighthouse dominates the small treeless archipelago with its distinctive black and white horizontal bands. The design of the Race Rocks tower is consistent with other Imperial lighthouses used along colonial trade routes. There is considerable debate surrounding the origin of the stones used to construct the tower, with some sources maintaining all rock used was quarried on Great Race Rock itself. Recent restoration work showed definitively that the lower three-fourths of the tower is constructed of granite (not the basalt available locally), and the top fourth of sandstone, consistent with other sources that claim that both granite blocks quarried in Scotland and sandstone from Gabriola Island were used in the tower’s construction.

Other character-defining elements of the lighthouse’s architecture include the tower’s tall tapered form and stately proportions, robust rusticated block construction, raised door and windows set in arched openings of the thick masonry, its aesthetic design, and lasting-quality craftsmanship. The black and white bands reinforce the lighthouse’s picturesque, maritime setting on Race Rocks, making it an easily recognized regional landmark.

2.2.4. Environmental Values

The islands of the Race Rocks archipelago are just the protruding tips of an ancient volcanic core that rises up from the ocean floor. Because of this distinct origin, the steep rock walls and narrow channels found in the AOI interact with and enhance the strong tidal flows of the Juan de Fuca Strait, creating areas of significant upwelling and seawater mixing. In February 1999, the Canadian Hydrographic Survey presented an acoustical bathymetric map of the Race Rocks AOI and surrounding area to 100m to further scientific understanding of the area’s currents and ecosystems (see Figure 2.1). An important consequence of the unique oceanographic conditions found at Race Rocks are the relatively cold, clear, and nutrient-rich waters ideal for the kelp forest ecosystem found in the AOI.

Figure 2.1: The black area represents land and areas not included within the survey (2d capture of entire area from south – 1 x magnification ). Bentinck Island appears at the top of the picture. Great Race Rocks, where the light station is located, is the large island in the center of the picture.

Kelp forests are the most productive ecosystems on the planet, and a conservative estimate of 7,370 metric tonnes representing more than 41 taxa of marine algae is thought to exist within the boundaries of the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. The dominant kelp species Nereocystis luetkeana (bull kelp) forms thick canopies along the surface in approximately half of the AOI, while dense understory aggregations of Pterygophora californica (perennial kelp) form beds on the seafloor over an even greater area. Kelp forests of Nereocystis are predominantly found in wave-exposed areas where they absorb kinetic wave energy, sheltering nearby coastlines and influencing sedimentation and coastal erosion patterns. Furthermore, kelp forests host a great diversity of invertebrate and vertebrate species, acting as refuges and nurseries for young northern abalone (Haliotis kamtschatkana), Rockfish (Sebastes spp.), and other commercially important stocks.

Abalone were once found in great abundance in the Race Rocks AOI and surrounding area, however Haliotis kamtschatkana is now a severely depleted shellfish throughout the southern Vancouver Island region and in 1990 the entire coast of British Columbia was closed to harvesting. In 1999, research showed that protection against illegal harvest provided by a manned-presence at Race Rocks resulted in greater abundance and size of abalone than in surrounding areas (Wallace, 1999). Furthermore, the wide range of abalone sizes at Race Rocks indicated active recruitment and population growth in the AOI, a phenomenon not observed outside of protected areas.

Rockfish are found through the northern oceans, however the waters of the Pacific Northwest provide habitat for the greatest species diversity. There are at least 6 known species of Rockfish in the Race Rocks AOI; the most common of these being the Sebastes melanops (Black), Sebastes caurinus (Copper), and Sebastes maliger (Quillback). DFO monitoring in B.C. has shown that inshore rockfish populations are at low levels of abundance, particularly those within the inland waters of Vancouver Island. Since 2002, Federally-designated Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) around the coast have been designed to alleviate further population declines associated with recreational and commercial fisheries. However, forward-thinking conservation initiatives proposed by Race Rocks community stakeholders succeeded in 1990 with the first federal closure of commercial and sport fishing for groundfish of any marine reserve area on the B.C. coast. It is hoped and generally believed by stakeholders that the protection of Rockfish stocks at Race Rocks creates positive spillover into nearby areas where fishing is permitted. The Race Rocks Eco-Guardian reports fishing infractions as one of the most common negative human impacts on the Race Rocks ecosystem, second only to munitions testing and disposal carried out by the Department of National Defense. The proposed Race Rocks MPA approximates the current boundaries of the current Race Rocks RCA.

The Race Rocks islets serve as a haulout and excellent viewing opportunity for four pinniped species: two Otariidae (eared) and two Phocidae (true) seal species. Harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) are the most abundant pinniped species in B.C. waters, making year-round use of the Race Rocks AOI as both a haulout and pupping site. Harbour seals are observed to congregate in ‘nursery areas’ within the AOI from July to September to raise their pups; a sensitive time when viewing and administrative activities are reduced to minimize impact. Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) have expanded their historical range northward and can now be found at Race Rocks from December to September. Elephant seals were first observed to use the haul outs in the Race Rocks AOI for moulting in 1998. In 2009, the first recorded Canadian birth of an elephant seal occurred on Great Race Rock. In 2010, four births were observed, however all pups perished before weaning. Race Rocks is the only known Canadian breeding colony for the Northern elephant seal. Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus) are the largest Otariid at Race Rocks and males of this species are present in the AOI year-round. Steller sea lions are listed by COSEWIC and SARA legislation as Special Concern and are particularly vulnerable to entanglement in lost fishing gear and marine garbage. The first rescue of an entangled sea lion in Canada occurred at Race Rocks in December 2009 with the combined effort of DFO and the Vancouver Aquarium. Male California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are seen sporadically in the Race Rocks AOI throughout the year, with the greatest abundance found from August to October. Sea lion abundance in the reserve can reach 1500 individuals, a time when each rocky islet in the reserve is used as a haul out. A year-round population of ~100 Steller sea lions are generally found on North, Middle, or South-East Rocks. The Callorhinus ursinus (Northern Fur seal) species has not been observed at Race Rocks for more than 20 years. Southern Resident and Transient Killer whale (Orcinus orca) populations are regularly sighted in and around the AOI, and Humpback whale sightings have increased in recent years. Disturbances of Harbour seals, Steller sea lions, California sea lions, and Orca whales by Department of National Defense activities around and in the AOI have been documented.

A diverse array of seabirds, migratory songbirds, and birds of prey make use of the Race Rocks AOI. Three species of seabird (Larus glaucescens, Cepphus columba, and Haematopus bachmani) currently nest on Great Race Rock. Seabirds and songbirds are attracted to the Race Rocks AOI for its high abundance of food and protection from land-based predators, however River otters (Lontra canadensis) that have found refuge in the stonework found on Great Race Rock have recently invaded the ecosystem and prey upon cormorants and unfledged seagulls. Seabirds are regularly seen to congregate around ‘bait balls’ and sea lions feeding on larger fish such as salmon or sturgeon. Boat traffic is known to disturb seabird foraging behaviour (Ronconi & St. Clair, 2002), however these aggregations of seabirds serve to attract rather than discourage the majority of vessels in the AOI. Peregrine falcons (both Falco peregrinus pealei and Falco peregrinus anatum) are attracted to the Race Rocks AOI because of high concentrations of seabird prey species. Both of these species are listed by COSEWIC under Special Concern and have been observed to make regular use of the railings surrounding the lantern room of the Race Rocks lighthouse. Between November and April, Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) congregate mainly on North, West, and South-East Rocks providing excellent winter wildlife viewing opportunities in the AOI. The Race Rocks Eco-Guardian recently documented and photographed the second owl species (Strix varia) known to make use of the AOI.

2.2.5. Stewardship

The Race Rocks Ecological Reserve has served as and continues to be a commendable example of shared stewardship and ecological protection. Since the establishment of the ecological reserve, every community stakeholder has made efforts to reduce their impact on the Race Rocks ecosystem and improve the sustainability of their use of the marine resources found in the AOI. The importance of protecting Race Rocks became particularly evident in 1997 with the destaffing of the light station on Great Race Rock. Conservationists believed that the low compliance rates with existing regulations—despite a manned presence—would only worsen without supervision of the sensitive and limited resources found in the AOI. Pearson College stepped up to this conservation challenge and has provided a full-time staff of Eco-Guardians to maintain the facilities on Great Race Rock and to protect and promote the Race Rocks ecosystem for the last 13 years. The 2005 “State of British Columbia’s Ecological Reserves” report cites the work of Pearson College as an exemplary case of building partnerships, supporting on-going research, and stewardship. As of 2005, Race Rocks was the only ecological reserve with an up-to-date inventory of species, thanks in part to the annual sub-tidal surveys performed by Pearson College students since 1980. As part of their commitment to research and inventory work, Pearson College hired marine scientists as the reserve’s Eco-Guardians in 2008 and 2010; their work has catalogued many species previously unknown to make use of the Race Rocks AOI including 14 new vertebrate observations. Recreational boaters and fishermen wary of DFO officers have commented that they appreciate the community-based approach employed by Pearson College staff to protect and encourage deeper stewardship of Race Rocks.

2.2.6. Education & Research

One of the original stated purposes of the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve was to preserve the ecosystem for educational purposes (Fletcher et al. 1980). Within sight of the province’s capital, Race Rocks has incredible biological importance for and serves as a unique showcase of the natural history of southern British Columbia. From the very beginning, students and educational aims have been a critical component of protecting Race Rocks. Heavy student involvement and direct lobbying was instrumental in the creation of the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve (ER#97). Following Pearson College’s example, the wildlife-viewing community and Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre utilize the tremendous educational potential of Race Rocks to help educate visitors in the Salish Sea ecosystem and the significant natural links between organisms and human activities.

The College has led educational initiatives for Race Rocks since 1978, keeping an up-to-date inventory of species, facilitating Christmas Bird Counts in the ecological reserve, attracting and supporting external research, and providing the award-winning “http://www.racerocks.com ” website. Created in 1999, racerocks.com has brought a cornucopia of real-time video and audio, weather reports, archived educational videos, curriculum resources, and other materials to hundreds of thousands of visitors. Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOS), the wildlife viewing community and Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre use resources made available by the College through the racerocks.com website to stress the importance of protecting the Race Rocks ecosystem. The College is building wi-fi and other technological capacity to better facilitate the educational objectives of the wider stakeholder community.

Over the past 30 years, external research conducted in the Race Rocks AOI has diminished. The University of Victoria once had a strong involvement at Race Rocks, with ongoing seabird and other ecology programmes (Dr. T. Miller, personal communication). Currently, data from environmental and population monitoring provided by Pearson College has taken a more prominent role in external research activities. Recently, research attention has been directed at Race Rocks in an effort to understand the interplay between community stakeholders, First Nations, and the Canadian government surrounding conservation issues (Murgatroyd, 1999; LeRoy, 2002). The Race Rocks MPA designation process has been identified as a model for evaluating and processing other candidate MPA areas, however process length and cost are considerable problems that face future conservation efforts of this type.

The Race Rocks ecosystem is an integral component for other regional ecosystems, however its educational value has a global appeal. The first Canadian Underwater Safari production involved terrestrial and underwater videography at Race Rocks and showcased the AOI’s ecology to audiences across Canada and the eastern US with an estimated 2 million viewers. Since 2008, documentary filmmakers and television crews from Germany and South Korea have used the Race Rocks AOI to educate audiences in their home countries of this globally significant ecosystem.
2.2.7. Ecosystem Services and Valuation

As the MPA designation process moves forward for the Race Rocks AOI, a Cost-Benefit analysis must decide if the additional onus on Canadian taxpayers, businesses and government resources merits specialized protection for the resources contained within the proposed boundaries. An important class of information missing from this and many other conservation decisions is that of ecosystem valuation and natural capital, that is how natural systems sustain and fulfill human life. Global efforts are underway to value both ecosystems and the multitude of benefits they provide to increase human welfare (Costanza et al. 1997; TEEB 2010), however without true cost pricing indexed to actual social and environmental costs policy makers are confronted by a scarcity of economic incentives to maintain nature. In the Race Rocks MPA context, valuation techniques must first identify important uncertainties such as the replacement cost of Rockfish and abalone populations contained in the AOI before an understanding of conservation success and associated economic benefits can be reached. In matters such as the value of marine mammals to commercial interests, both the impact of human activities and the willingness of individuals to pay to protect ecosystems must also be known (Jansson et al. 1994).

3. PRESENT AND POTENTIAL: COMMUNITIES AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS

3.1. Local Demographic Trends

In 2009, there were an estimated 367,572 people living in the Capital Region District, and a population of 371,748 is estimated for the CRD in 2010 (see Figure 3.1). Metchosin, the closest community to Race Rocks, had an estimated population of 5,133 in 2009. Communities in the CRD and their estimated populations are listed in Table 3.1.

Figure 3.1: Southern Vancouver Island and the Capital Region District (from BC Stats).



Table 3.1: Population estimates for CRD Municipalities: 1996-2009. Source: BC Stats. November 2010.

The CRD’s population has increased by ~12% since 1996, and another 12% increase (to 412,789) is expected by 2020. Current projections hold that the CRD will surpass 400,000 people by 2017, and long-term projections estimate a CRD population of 461,412 by 2036 (BC Stats, 2010). Changing population structures in the province are thought to explain a general decrease in fishing activities (as measured by number of fishing licenses sold). Comparisons of provincial Labour Force data from the 2001 and 2006 censuses show that employment in the fishing, hunting and trapping industry was down 22.7% in the CRD compared with a provincial increase of 1.3%. Employment in the mining and oil gas extraction increased 87.9%, more than double the provincial growth average. Unemployment rates in the CRD have shown steady declines since the 2001 figure of 6.6%; the unemployment level in Victoria was a reported 3.9% in January 2009 (Statistics Canada 2009).

3.2 Socioeconomic Sectors and Activities

The diversity and abundance of wildlife, picturesque setting, and eponymous oceanic currents that race around the nine islets in the Race Rocks AOI encourage a variety of socioeconomic activities. This section presents a snapshot of the activities as they presently occur at Race Rocks.

3.2.1. Recreational Boating

i. Historical and Current Situation Analysis
The recreational boating sector traditionally encompasses three sectors of private boat owners, namely: power boating, sail boating, and human powered boating (kayaks, canoes, rowboats). In this report, sea kayaking is treated as a separate entity. Recreational boating is therefore defined as power and sailboat cruising, more specifically referring to cruising or sailing as the main purpose of the activity taking place (as distinct from fishing). It includes cruising by local residents and visiting boaters. These boaters make both operating and capital expenditures.

Race Rocks’ position in the Juan de Fuca Strait makes it accessible to numerous ports and is considered a high traffic area for boating. It is strategically located as it has the only direct water access from Georgia Strait and Puget Sound to fishing grounds and wildlife viewing areas on the west coast of Vancouver Island and Washington State. It is also a good reference point in terms of navigational use, being equipped with a fully functional lighthouse and a fog horn. Its prominent positioning and surrounding rock inlets as well strong currents makes it an easily recognizable area for local boaters.

The nearest slipway and marina is located at Pedder Bay, which is approximately 2 miles to the North. However, recreational boaters from Becher Bay and Sooke (to the Northwest) as well as Esquimalt and Victoria (to the Northeast) frequent the AOI. Recreational boaters from Washington State also visit Race Rocks, however fewer than 5 such vessels per year have been observed since 2008. Recreational boating traffic is largely weather-dependent and reaches its highest volumes during the summer months with a steep decline in October and for the duration of the winter months.

The majority of recreational boaters that enter the reserve engage in wildlife viewing. The Race Rocks area has a high concentration of marine life and on any given day depending on the season, boaters can see whales, two species of sea lions, Canada’s only elephant seal breeding colony as well as an impressive abundance and diversity of seabirds. The highest levels of boat traffic occur during the summer months, coinciding with peak seasons for most wildlife species that use the AOI. The Race Rocks lighthouse, the second oldest in the province of British Columbia is also of interest to boaters for its historical significance in the region. The AOI is highly picturesque, with an attractive lighthouse surrounded by the Pacific Ocean with a background of the Olympic Mountain range. This distinct coastal panorama makes for an impressive sight and leaves a lasting impression to all who visit.

The high-current channels and other navigational hazards around the rocky islets discourage most sail-powered vessels from entering the Race Rocks AOI, with the exception of competitive teams in the annual Swiftsure Race. A team in the 2010 Swiftsure Race was unaware of Race Rocks’ protected status and anchored in the ecological reserve. The HMCS Oriole (based at CFB Esquimalt) makes regular training trips to the waters east of Race Rocks, engaging its on board engines when necessary.

An estimated 5-10% of recreational boaters engage in illegal fishing activities in the Race Rocks AOI. Less than 1% of these vessels will be transporting SCUBA divers. These figures are a result of observation by the Eco- Guardians on the island and from Daily Log records available on the Race Rocks website. A significant proportion (up to 50%) of recreational boating traffic is either not knowledgeable or chooses to disregard the 7 knot speed limit within the reserve boundaries. However, the majority of recreational boaters do maintain the same or greater viewing distances from marine mammals as commercial wildlife viewing vessels (see section 4.1.2).

A small but growing number of recreational vessels drive through the kelp beds in the Race Rock AOI, some of which then require assistance. The latest case of a recreational vessel running aground and requiring assistance was 2005. It is often impossible to raise recreational boaters at Race Rocks on VHF 16 or 68 with many boaters reporting a preference of cell phones over maritime radio.

ii. Future Outlook for Recreational Boating
The Georgia Basin and Puget Sound region has an estimated population of 6 million inhabitants with high rates of boat ownership. This has contributed to continuing strong demand for recreational boating in the regions coastal waters. There is no statistically reliable estimate of use levels for the study area. The development of nearby communities is expected to contribute to an increased boating use in the AOI. Demographic trends in the area suggest that an ageing population with greater wealth and leisure time will seek out and invest in motorized activities due to its ease and convenience. The Race Rocks AOI is thus expecting more frequent visitors due to its setting as well as its historical and natural values.

3.2.2. Kayaking

i. Historical and Current Situation Analysis
This recreational activity is growing in popularity in the Capital Region District, and visits to the Race Rocks AOI by kayakers have increased in recent years. Large, organized kayaking groups will leave from Pedder Bay, timing their visits to Race Rocks for slack or variable tides. Increasingly, small groups (2-3) visit Race Rocks during strong ebb or flood tides to ride the strong localized currents between the rocky islets, seeking refuge in sheltered kelp beds to rest. Fewer than 50 kayakers have visited the ecological reserve annually since 2008. Kayaking is widely believed to be a non-obtrusive form of wildlife viewing, however the stealth of these silent craft can surprise marine mammals, leading to the highest rate of marine mammal disturbances per vessel visit of any human activity at Race Rocks. Kayaking groups have landed on Great Race Rock seeking to camp, explore, and use washroom facilities for each of the last three summers.

ii. Future Outlook for Kayaking
Access to the Race Rocks AOI is available to a wide age range of the region’s population. Visits to the AOI by kayaking groups is expected to increase in the coming years and increased outreach efforts are required to educate this sector in the regulations and requirements of human activities in the ecological reserve.

3.2.3. Sportfishing

i. Historical and Current Situation Analysis
The waters of South Vancouver Island are regarded as an important sport fishing destination with thousands of anglers seeking Pacific salmon, halibut, lingcod, rockfish and invertebrates such as prawn and crab year round in the vicinity of the AOI. The peak of the salmon-fishing season occurs in the late summer, with halibut as the main target species in the winter months. No official numbers exist on the number of active anglers in the area although the 1999 baseline assessment approximated that the AOI supported 4,320 sport fishing trips annually.

Sportfishing is currently not permitted in the majority of the Race Rocks AOI. A Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) prohibiting hook and line fishing within the 40m depth contour surrounding Great Race Rock and Rosedale Reef is now in effect. Shellfish harvesting is also prohibited within 800m of Great Race Island. Despite these two bans in place, the AOI provides a geographical and navigational focus point for mariners. It also creates a refuge for resident fish species and their feed, and is believed to act as a seeding ground for the surrounding areas which are frequented by anglers. The Race Rocks AOI also provides an opportunity for anglers to view wildlife, a historical lighthouse and a beautiful setting, thus enhancing the value of their recreational fishing experience.

The local sportfishing community can be divided into two distinct functional groups: the experienced fishers with significant local knowledge and who have actively fished around the AOI (since before the first RCA closure), and the novice fishers who lack practical local knowledge of the fishery or regulations. The first group generally does not enter the Race Rocks AOI unless during sporadic wildlife viewing events. The second group is most active on holiday weekends and often uses the Race Rocks AOI to transit to and from halibut fishing grounds to the South and West of the Ecological Reserve. The majority of vessels fishing illegally in the Race Rocks RCA originate from the Pedder Bay Marina, most of these being rental boats. Those contacted during fishing infractions express an ignorance of their location: “This is Race Rocks?”, mistakenly think the RCA was defined by physical distance from the islets, or are completely unaware of any protection measures in place. Signage posted on the Rosedale Rock navigational buoy has been proposed to notify novice fishers and boaters of conservation measures. In recent years, non-First Nations fishers have claimed status when questioned by the Eco-Guardian. Currently, there are not enough financial or human resources available to enforce the bans in place. This on-paper regulation degrades fish stocks in the AOI and may impact surrounding areas.

Lost fishing gear and reckless boating practices have been observed to harm marine mammals in the AOI and have been documented on the Race Rocks website. Enhanced public education programs are thought to be a key feature in reducing the harm that can be caused by human behavior.

Fewer numbers of fishing licenses sold within the province of British Columbia and diminishing availability of major target species, mainly salmon populations have contributed to a declining recreational fishery catch within the past 20 years. Harvests have been declining despite the fact that many fishermen practise catch-and-release. Many recreational fishermen are unaware that catch-and-release fishing yields limited value for Rockfish because of swim-bladder rupture and infection prevalent in Rockfish brought to the surface.

ii. Future Outlook of Sportfishing
The decadal trend in decline in the number of fishing licenses will likely continue due to diminishing fish resources. However, it is hoped that with the Rockfish Conservation Area in place and with continued preservation of the AOI, the surrounding waters will become host to larger populations of fish, thus drawing additional anglers to the region. Furthermore, increased public education initiatives will result in a better stewardship of the Race Rocks AOI by the sportfishing community.

3.2.4. Wildlife Viewing

i. Historical and Current Situation Analysis
Wildlife viewing encompasses a wide range of activities and, as such is difficult to document and classify. It can be formal or informal, guided or unguided and can be a part of other activities. Wildlife viewing occupies a major portion of British Columbia’s tourism industry.

Wildlife viewing is the most prevalent human activity currently occurring in the Race Rocks AOI with an estimated 2000-3000 vessel visits each year. The Race Rocks islets serve as a haulout and excellent viewing opportunity for four pinniped species: two Otariidae (eared) and two Phocidae (true) seal species. The Callorhinus ursinus (Northern Fur seal) species has not been observed at Race Rocks for more than 20 years. Southern Resident and Transient Killer whale populations are regularly sighted in and around the AOI, and Humpback whale sightings have increased in recent years. The historical Race Rocks lighthouse is also an attraction to the AOI. The Race Rocks AOI is not considered a principal whale watching area, however, it is used when there is a shortage of sightings in other areas. Furthermore, the opportunity to see different species of marine mammals and bird species along with the historical and cultural significance of the area, makes it a popular choice among those engaging in wildlife viewing.

Both commercial operations and informal viewing activities take place, however commercial operations account for the majority of tourist and vessel traffic. Informal viewing follows the seasonal pattern of recreational boating with virtually no activity during the winter months. Commercial operations peak in summer months with up to 50 vessel visits a day, however regular visits are conducted to the Race Rocks AOI throughout the year. The majority of vessels are rigid-hull inflatables with a capacity of twelve passengers and two crew. These vessels are capable of high speeds in order to reach the whales and are able to approach animals at a closer range than larger capacity boats. Vessels are generally crewed by a captain and an on-board naturalist whereas in some boats these duties fall to just one crew member (Murgatroyd 1999). Natural interpretation allows for greater public awareness of the natural world and is a source of public education and is considered a value-added feature of commercial wildlife viewing. The breadth of conservation and stewardship issues that can be introduced to visitors within the AOI are great due to the great concentration of marine life available in a coherent and visually impressive entity. The encounters at Race Rocks can have a significant impact on viewers and can impel them to become involved in the marine conservation movement.

In 1998, whale watchers on the Canadian West Coast generated approximately $14 million in direct revenues and $108 million of total revenues (Fisheries and Oceans 2003b). Victoria has the highest concentration of whale watchers and is believed to generate approximately $12 million for the local economy.

Commercial wildlife viewing has increased in the AOI over the last 10 years. Most commercial eco-tour operations that make use of the AOI belong to the Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA), which has developed a set of local whale and wildlife guidelines for Race Rocks. These guidelines are generally less stringent than Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s marine mammal viewing guidelines but can serve to reduce the impact of this activity on wildlife in the Race Rocks AOI when followed. No regular aircraft-based wildlife viewing has been noted at Race Rocks.

ii. Future Outlook of Wildlife Viewing Activities
Wildlife viewing activities within the Race Rocks AOI are likely to see an increase in the long term demand as visitors become more aware of environmental opportunities and want to experience wildlife “up close and personal”. Although his trend will depend largely on the highly fluctuating tourism market, barring significant changes in the availability of wildlife at Race Rocks, the number of visitors to the area will likely increase.

Additional regulations for the wildlife viewing industry are not thought to be required at this point. However, enforcement of and greater adherence to the guidelines in place are critical in order to continue maintaining the ecosystem with fair and equitable access. As both professional and federal guidelines will be updated to reflect the best scientific knowledge available in sustainable viewing practices for marine mammals, policies such as traffic volume and noise limits or time/place access restriction may come to play a part in future structuring of wildlife viewing activities occurring within the Race Rocks AOI.

An increased capacity of the Race Rocks administration and Race Rocks website will enhance the experience of all involved if cooperation between different user groups continues along current lines. Increased multimedia resource availability for those travelling to the Race Rocks AOI focusing on public education and environmental stewardship is thought to be an ideal next step in promoting these values among those who experience Race Rocks firsthand.

3.2.5. SCUBA diving

i. Historical and Current Situation Analysis
Recreational divers were among the first to realize the uniqueness of the Race Rocks habitat and continue to explore the area’s underwater topography and biodiversity. The area is known to have fast currents and thus is frequented only by experienced divers. Dive charters originating from Pedder Bay and Victoria make up the majority of diving-related traffic in the Race Rocks AOI with trips occurring on a weekly basis throughout the year. However, Ogden Point Dive Centre is the only company regularly conducting trips to Race Rocks, visiting the AOI weekly during the entire year, with approximately six to eight clients per trip. Pearson College also brings divers to the AOI, with most diving occurring in October and February. Recreational SCUBA diving is considered a low-impact activity, however gear loss and improper diving techniques can negatively impact sensitive benthic communities. Shellfish poaching by SCUBA divers in the AOI has been reported (Demarchi & Bentley 2003).

The 2009 Socio-Economic Assessment estimated that the demand for diving at the Race Rocks AOI represents $40,000 in direct spending on dive services and another $250,000 indirectly for travel-related purchases per year.

ii. Future Outlook for Scuba Diving
As SCUBA diving is a high risk activity practiced by a low percentage of the population, and given the characteristics of the AOI requiring high skill levels, the frequency of the activity is expected to remain stable in coming years.

3.2.6. Race Rocks Administration:

i. Historical and Current Situation Analysis
All activities at Race Rocks are subject to review and approval by the Race Rocks Operating Committee consisting of BC Parks and Lester B. Pearson College. Currently, the islands of Race Rocks are considered Crown Land belonging to the government of British Columbia. BC Parks administers the island as a Provincial Ecological Reserve. It leases to the Canadian Coast Guard, (a division of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans) the envelope of land surrounding the lighthouse, also including the vertical solar panels and the fog horn. In 1997, BC Parks granted Lester B.Pearson College a 30-year lease to manage the ecological reserve, and all the facilities not leased by the Canadian Coast Guard on the island. The maintenance of all facilities (except those leased to DFO), the provision of a manned presence on the island, and the protection of marine resources in the AOI have all been undertaken at the expense of Lester B. Pearson College which have been valued at $150,000 per year.

Despite fiscal restraints that limit conservation activities in the AOI, cooperation and support in instances of marine mammal disturbances and illegal fishing violations continue to be an integral part of government participation in protecting Race Rocks. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has also invested in a special notice to boaters and anglers in the vicinity of Race Rocks regarding the regulations that must be followed while in the ecological reserve. In one specific instance since 2008, a Canadian Coast Guard Ship, the CCGS Atlin Post, was available to give support to the Eco-Guardian in stopping a fishing violation in progress occurring in the Rockfish Conservation Area.

A permit is required for any research or commercial activity within the ecological reserve. Great Race Rock has a private-use jetty and can be accessed by permit only or through prior authorization of Lester B. Pearson College. This policy endeavours to minimize human impact on the island and to preserve sensitive natural systems. The staff and students of Lester B. Pearson College, including the resident Eco-Guardians, are available to assist in external projects that contribute to building a wider base of knowledge about the islands. All research, print material, film, video and other products from research activities at Race Rocks will be made freely available to the public via the Race Rocks website and will be available for use in the Pearson College library.

The commitment of volunteers, faculty, staff and students of Pearson College over the last 30 years in assembling the resources of Race Rocks and then making them available on racerocks.com and racerocks.ca is evidence of a wider public value of maintaining the ecological integrity of the reserve, while continuing to share with and educate a global audience.

ii. Future Outlook of Race Rocks Administration
Prohibitive financial and logistical constraints on government agencies leave both federal and provincial ministries unable to fund or otherwise support administrative actions at the Race Rocks AOI under its current status. Despite limited sources of income, Lester B. Pearson College is committed to its mission of reducing human impact in the AOI and on Great Race Rock in particular by barring paying eco-tourists from touring the island. The College is also committed to explore and expand research and educational opportunities on the island. Integral to a future manned-presence in the AOI, the College will continue to demonstrate the use and integration of sustainable resources and renewable energy with the goal to reduce the emissions from operations to an absolute minimum.

3.2.7. Research

i. Historical and Current Situation Analysis
The unique location and characteristics of the Race Rocks AOI has allowed it to be an important site for researchers in past years. Certain types of ecological data has been recorded continually for over 87 years and has resulted in an unbroken chain of data that is of particular significance for climate analysis and modelling. The types of research undertaken at Race Rocks AOI aim to contribute to a better understanding of the Salish Sea and what conservation practises are most suitable for marine ecosystems.

Lester B. Pearson College has made its staff and facilities available for on-site research projects, providing a Marine Science Center featuring space for 6 people, a kitchen and basic furnishings for researchers on Great Race Island. Since 1974, Lester B. Pearson College staff and students have been the main researchers at Race Rocks and have worked with a variety of researchers to gather and document scientific information. With the establishment of the Race Rocks website in 1999, off-site researchers have been able to use the AOI for their own research. Streaming data is available online and is continually updated and archived. Historical data and past research projects conducted on Race Rocks are freely available through the racerocks.com website and from the Lester B. Pearson College library. At most times, two remote-controlled cameras can be used to collect qualitative and quantitative data from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Research at Race Rocks capitalizes on the islets’ location in the Salish Sea, high densities of marine life, and the strong academic and procedural traditions of reducing human impacts, increasing public awareness and environmental monitoring. Prominent fields of research include Energy Systems, Conservation Issues, and Pure Discovery.

Some of the research includes:

• Oceanographic data for temperature (daily since 1923) and salinity (daily since 1934)
• AXYS Wind Assessment technology (2010) measuring offshore wind energy through an offshore buoy designed to record wind speed and direction data profiles up to 200 meters elevation
• Surface water temperature and salinity data gathered at Race Rocks between 1948 and 1957
• Inter-tidal and sub-tidal flora and fauna study for the proposed national marine park in Juan de Fuca Strait (Goddard, 1975).
• The Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS), had a number of research vessels in the Race Rocks area between 1951 and 1982.
• A study of effects of human-caused disturbances on marine birds and pinnipeds at Race Rocks (Demarchi & Bentley 2004).
• A master’s thesis on the public process and the Creation of a Marine Protected Area at Race Rocks (LeRoy 2002).
• Race Rocks Digital Herbarium (Murphy 2002a) and The epiphytic community of Pterygophora
californica: Race Rocks MPA. (Murphy 2002b).
• Alberto Lindner’s visit to Race Rocks in 2002 as part of his study into the systematic evolution of the hydrocoral populations.
• Canadian Hydrographic Service work on multi-beam sonar research in 1999.
• Race Rocks sea bed imaging and mapping survey undertaken by Coastal and Ocean Research Inc. in 1999.
• Scott Wallace’s research in 1997 and 1998 of the population dynamics of the Northern Abalone.
• The study Seasonality of Hydroids from an intertidal pool and adjacent subtidal habitats at Race Rocks (Brinckmann-Voss 1996)
• The study Rhysia fletcheri (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa, Rhysiidae), a new species of Colonial Hydroid
from Vancouver Island (Brinckmann-Voss 1993).

More research has been conducted by students of Lester B. Pearson as part of their coursework and is on file with BC Parks.

ii. Future Outlook of Research at Race Rocks
In the past few years, research at Race Rocks has been conducted mostly by Lester B. Pearson College staff and students as part of their International Baccalaureate programs. Once strong research partnerships with institutions such as the University of Victoria has dwindled, thus the majority of outside research is now attracted by Pearson College. It is hoped that a future MPA status and increased DFO support will help to fill the many knowledge gaps on the system of the AOI, will enhance ongoing projects and will attract more research activity.

3.2.8. Education and Outreach

Lester B. Pearson College is an educational institution with students from 85 countries, each attending on full scholarship. The Race Rocks Ecological Reserve is managed by the Race Rocks Operating Committee but has been granted a 30-year lease by BC Parks for operational and programming purposes. The students at Pearson College are involved at Race Rocks through their science classes as well as activities such as scuba diving and by completing a 48-Hour curriculum that highlights environmental stewardship, conservation and education.

Visits by external educational institutions such as elementary and high schools were a part of the Race Rocks agenda in the past. However, such visits are now discouraged in an effort to reduce the human impact on the islands and have been replaced by the low-impact web-casting. Increased technology capacity has meant that more curriculum has been developed for remote students to use the cameras and data in place without impacting the Race Rocks environment.

The racerocks.com website is devoted to increasing educational resources available for students, researchers and educators around the world, while concomitantly limiting environmental impact on the main island. The Race Rocks website is also a place that preserves cultural and historical knowledge of the area, people and historical events surrounding the lighthouse and its keepers as well as traditional practices of the indigenous communities with prehistorical connections to Race Rocks. For example, several interviews were conducted with Earle Claxton, councillor of the Tsawout First Nations, in which he shares Coast Salish cultural knowledge of Race Rocks and its marine resources are now available in perpetuity.

Pearson College has found the website tool has many educational applications
including:
• The Jason Program Activity Files on Race Rocks;
• The Apple Learning Interchange Files;
• The Race Rocks Taxonomy Page;
• The Adopt an Ecosystem Project;
• Race Rocks as a Resource for Statistics exercise;
• Links to Race Rocks for the BC Grade 11 Curriculum;
• IB Biology and Environmental Systems Ecology Resource;
• The Animal Behaviour studies; and,
• The Ecological Niche and the Transect File.

Outreach programs consist of public service announcements concerning the hazards of misappropriate use of Race Rocks resources and illegal and/or harmful behavior that may take place. The website is the primary point of contact for these programs, however contacting the media when large-scale, immediate appeals are necessary (i.e. marine pollution entangling marine mammals). Lester B. Pearson College is also committed to working with local First Nations to disseminate cultural knowledge regarding conservation practices.

ii. Future Outlook of Education and Outreach
Lester B. Pearson College is committed to continuing its support of innovative educational and research opportunities. It hopes to secure funding for operational costs ensuring Race Rocks activities can continue at present levels. However, management capacity is limited with financial constraints that have already reduced college operations. For the first time in its 37 years of existence, the College has had to reduce enrollment in order to maintain its full scholarship merit-based acceptance policy. It is hoped that MPA status would contribute to greater public awareness and understanding of human impacts and work at Race Rocks and attract more resources for the protection of this and connected ecosystem. Expansion of public outreach programs are planned with increased technological resources and development of a network of environmentally-conscious and informed students, researchers and public able to generate online content. Off-site educational centers such as the Shaw Discovery Centre will benefit directly from technological advances better enabling personnel at Race Rocks to share their experiences more widely through the use of available media. An increased role of wildlife viewing commercial operations through better-trained operators and interpreters will be an effective way to increase public understanding of the conservation issues that face Race Rocks.

4. VALUES AT RISK ANALYSIS

4.1 User Conflicts

4.1.1. Department of National Defense

The Department of National Defense (DND) makes year-round use of Military Training Area WQ (Whiskey Quebec), which encompasses the majority of the Race Rocks AOI (see Figure 4.3). Additional training areas to the south and east of the Race Rocks AOI also create marine traffic around and air traffic above and around the ecological reserve. Nearby Whirl Bay is designated an Underwater Demolition Range.

Figure 4.1: Military Training Area WQ and the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve (source Fisheries and Oceans Canada).

The most frequent DND activities impacting the Race Rocks AOI are the burning and detonation of munitions and the explosives training for military personnel (together referred to as ‘blasting’). Bentinck Island, the closest point of land to the Race Rocks AOI, holds several Propellant Burning Areas (PBAs) and High Energy Open Detonation Areas used by CFAD Rocky Point. A 2000 environmental assessment showed activities in PBAs such as burning of gun propellants was a dirty process and action was required to reduce heavy metal and nitroglycerine contamination occurring at this site (Ampleman et al. 2000). This Defense R&D Canada assessment stated that the climactic conditions at CFAD Rocky Point created incomplete combustion of explosives and increased ground infiltration of contaminants such as nitroglycerin. Thus, the inappropriateness CFAD as a blasting site is not only an environmental concern, but has been a safety concern as well (Ampleman et al. 2000). Aside from environmental contamination, noise pollution from blasting—with up to 12 high-order detonations per day—is viewed as the most significant and detrimental human impact on the marine resources in the Race Rocks AOI. All respondents to this study indicated their concern of the impact of blasting on the fish and wildlife at Race Rocks and the surrounding area, and DND has responded with on-going environmental assessments by LGL Ltd. Environmental Research Associates during some blasting exercises. In addition, the shock waves from blasting has caused items to fall off walls and shelves in the buildings on Great Race Rock, and have caused boaters and vessel operators to fear they have run aground (note the lighthouse in Figure 4.2). The wildlife viewing community also reports blasting activity causes fear and displeasure for tourists, often contradicting their stewardship messages. Use of the Rocky Point and Bentinck Island demolition sites presents a safety concern for boaters in and around the Race Rocks AOI, so a Military Buffer Zone is established during blasting operations. This buffer zone restricts both commercial and recreational traffic through Race Passage and diverts additional traffic into and around the Race Rocks AOI. Blasting activities have remained relatively constant since 2004, however designated blasting areas have been lined with sand to absorb explosive shock waves and blasting patterns have changed with five-minute intervals between blasts introduced in an effort to minimize impact on wildlife. DND reports mitigation efforts to avoid blasting when whales are present, however blasting at Rocky Point on October 2010 while orca whales were within Military Training Area WQ was observed to coincide with a change in the whales’ direction of travel, away from the Race Rocks AOI.

Figure 4.2: High Energy Open Detonation Area at CFAD Rocky Point (from Ampleman et al. 2000).

Low-altitude overflights by DND aircraft (both Navy helicopters and Air Force fighter jets) over the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve increased significantly in 2010 (see Figure 4.3). Other community stakeholders question the necessity of these activities over the Race Rocks AOI, particularly as these loud disturbances impact hauled out sea lions (E. jubatus and Z. californianus) and seals (Phoca vitulina), as well as sensitive populations of seabirds including Brandt’s and Pelagic cormorants (Phalacrocorax penicillatus and Phalacrocorax pelagicus).

Underwater demolitions do not occur in the Race Rocks AOI, however ordinance tests using 0.5-10 kg of C4 plastique do occur at Whirl Bay (northwest of the AOI). Taken together, these highly visible and disruptive activities impact both the Race Rocks ecosystem and other socioeconomic activities that occur in and around the AOI. Respondents from the recreational boating, sportfishing and educational communities perceive DND’s activities to be a poor example of federal stewardship and inappropriate management of British Columbia’s coastal resources.

Figure 4.3: A Canadian Forces helicopter is seen flying low over Great Race Rock. Note the main residence’s eave in the top-left of the image.

4.1.2. Wildlife viewing

Boat-based wildlife viewing brings the vast majority of in-person visitors to the Race Rocks AOI. Professional and federal standards for wildlife viewing guide vessel operators to minimize their impact on the wildlife and ecosystem in general. However, individual operators often ignore professional standards of conduct established by the PWWA specifically for operation at Race Rocks. In some cases, PWWA guidelines are less stringent than stated regulations for the Race Rocks ecological reserve or DFO’s guidelines for viewing marine mammals. In both cases, guidelines have been developed in conjunction with consultations with wildlife biologists, eco-tour operators, and business leaders with the newest and best science available to ensure the safety and well being of marine mammals. Major areas of conflict include:

In 2009, DFO requested that boaters slow to 7 knots or less within 400m of the rocks surrounding Great Race Rock and Rosedale Rock. PWWA guidelines hold that vessels slow their approach to minimal wake and wash “when practical” at 220 yards from any rock or landmass in the AOI. Most operators follow the PWWA guidelines on approach to the Race Rocks area, however fewer find it practical to restrict speed when exiting the reserve.
The 2009 DFO notice also requested that boaters not approach any marine mammal closer than 100m, including those on the rocks. PWWA guidelines hold no such restriction on distance from viewing marine mammals. Operators from all companies operating in the AOI regularly approach marine mammals in the water and on the rocks as close as 20m. Instances of vessel operators pursuing sea lions in the water and driving through rafts of sea lions have been observed and reported. Approaches closer than 100m have caused stampedes of sea lions from their haul outs on Middle (Helicopter) Rocks, Great Race Rock, and South-East Rocks.
PWWA guidelines have designated a “Go Slow Zone” where vessels are to remain as close as practicable to the middle of channels between the islets of the Race Rocks AOI. Operators routinely favour routes that optimize wildlife viewing opportunities, significantly deviating from the mid-channel lines between North Rock, West Rocks, and Middle Rocks. Since 2008, large enough deviations such that operators drive through kelp beds have been noted.
Drift viewing is a recommended form of non-disruptive wildlife viewing in the Race Rocks AOI. PWWA guidelines state “vessels will transit the area with the current whenever conditions are suitable to do so”. Most operators choose to transit the area based upon their approach of the AOI, not the direction of the current. Some operators choose to make multiple passes of the same channel, motoring against the current up to 5 times in a single visit.
Engine noise from vessels in and around the Race Rocks AOI is believed to affect sea lion behaviour in the water. SCUBA divers note a change in behaviour and a relocation of Steller and California sea lions in the water when engine noise is present.

4.1.3. Ecological Reserve Management

Pearson College has attracted tens of thousands of online visitors to the Race Rocks AOI through the “http://www.racerocks.com” website, and brings ~100 marine science and biology students to Great Race Rock each year. Despite hosting student scholars from a wide range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, Pearson College is sometimes viewed by the general public as a private school for kids of privilege. This perceived exclusivity and the College’s unique access to the Ecological Reserve has fostered resentment and antipathy in some individuals from wildlife viewing, recreational boating, and sportfishing communities. Keeping a manned-presence on Great Race Rock presents both current and potential problems in the AOI. Boat traffic that brings personnel, supplies, and students to and from Race Rocks can disturb foraging seabirds, and is the most disruptive human activity for sea lions hauled out on the jetty area (August-October). Furthermore, an area of kelp in front of the jetty (~5m x 5m) is removed each year to facilitate operational boat traffic. The facilities on Great Race Rock are currently powered by a combination of solar and diesel power. Since taking on administrative and operational responsibilities at Race Rocks in 1997, the College has reduced diesel requirements by 80%. However, one 10,000 L diesel tank is currently in use and another scheduled for removal. All community stakeholders have identified fuel/oil spills as a pressing concern for the Race Rocks AOI.

4.1.4. Canadian Coast Guard

Canadian Coast Guard helicopters and zodiacs make periodic visits to Great Race Rock to perform maintenance on the navigational aids located there. While low-altitude overflights can disturb marine mammals and seabirds, a CCG helicopter landing on Great Race Rock in February 2010 did not interrupt Elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) coitus less than 100m away. Helicopter landings during the seabird-nesting season (June-September) have been discouraged, as in the past these disruptions have led to mass mortalities in Glaucous-winged Gulls (Larus glaucescens).

4.2 Potential impacts of MPA designation

Marine Protected Areas are fast becoming a mainstream management tool for conserving marine biodiversity in the World’s Oceans and is one of the highest levels of protection given to marine ecosystems in Canada. Marine ecosystems of British Columbia occupy a complex jurisdictional space because of the division of federal and provincial powers, such that cooperation between both levels of government and consideration of First Nation aboriginal and treaty rights are required for ecosystem-level conservation efforts. In 1998, Canada’s Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced that Race Rocks was earmarked to become one of Canada’s first MPAs under the Oceans Act. The regulatory intent has been to consult and collaborate with First Nations, community stakeholders and the general public to create a no-take Race Rocks MPA that would be part of a national system of MPAs. Consensus processes have been employed to empower local users and allow for more equitable sharing of benefits, a level of community involvement widely held as fundamental in the successful creation of an MPA (Kelleher 1999). True to its origins in adaptive management, the Race Rocks MPA designation process has struggled with scientific uncertainties and differences of opinion, however it is hoped that other conservation efforts can learn from its application and that management strategies can be adjusted as needed.

Race Rocks fits all four criteria of the 1996 Oceans Act mandate to protect and conserve:
1. Commercial and non-commercial fishery resources, including marine mammals and their habitats.
2. Endangered or threatened marine species and their habitats.
3. Unique habitats.
4. Marine areas of high biodiversity or biological productivity (Oceans Act 1996, p.s. 35(2)).

In spite of Race Rocks’ natural fit to these MPA criteria, MPA implementation is not just a conservation problem. Political and social opposition to MPA designation can stem from real or perceived financial losses associated with potential use exclusions. DFO’s responsibility to manage marine resources requires concomitant management of socioeconomic activity, and in the case for Race Rocks there is a very small geographic area impacted by increasing concentrations of human activity. Human use of natural areas, both for social and economic purposes, contributes to ecosystem degradation and adversely impacts conservation success, and it is paramount that stakeholders and the general community understand the economic trade-offs associated with conservation policies. At Race Rocks, DFO is tasked with both understanding how shifting patterns of human use impact the marine resources in the AOI and designing an effective, flexible management strategy that will make this MPA an effective vehicle for promoting long-term conservation and sustainable use practices.

In an upcoming Cost-Benefit Analysis document, DFO policymakers must ensure that MPA regulations maximize net economic, environmental, and social benefits to Canadians, businesses, and government over time (Canada, 2007). In an MPA designation scenario, scientists and resource managers have an ethical duty to make the best management decisions that arise out of multi-disciplinary science integrated with education and outreach efforts, whether or not they are convenient or politically correct (Agardy et al. 2003). In practice, systematic testing of assumptions and adaptive application of diverse MPA management strategies are critical for successful MPAs to meet their conservation objectives and improve resource management. The proceeding text summarizes feedback received from community stakeholders and the Race Rocks Public Advisory Board and is designed to aid impact analyses in finding non zero-sum solutions for environmental issues in the Race Rocks AOI. It must be decided if and what nature of a MPA is right for Race Rocks. Both regulatory and non-regulatory management tools are available, and their employment is dependent on projections of both baseline and managed scenarios (see Figure 4.4). The Cost-Benefit Analysis document will employ defined desired future states in terms of measurable norms.

Figure 4.4: Comparison Between the Baseline and “With Regulation” Scenarios

Community stakeholders that claim all or part of the Race Rocks AOI represent a wide range of interests and involvement, yet most are united in recognizing the broad applicability of MPAs to conserving marine ecosystems in British Columbia. With this spirit of cooperation then, it is somewhat paradoxical that conservationists are among those that hesitate in employing an MPA at Race Rocks. It became apparent from discussions conducted for this study that this hesitation stemmed from the empirically unsubstantiated of Canada’s MPA management strategy in general and lack of conservation objectives for the Race Rocks AOI in particular. Truly, prescription of overly simplistic solutions to complex marine conservation problems without a firm understanding of both ecological and socioeconomic conservation science risks polarization of stakeholders and threatens real progress made in marine conservation. At this point, knowledge gaps in our understanding of the Race Rocks conservation problem present significant difficulties for effective management and meaningful policy decisions. It is with this precaution that DFO’s integral task in MPA management of increasing understanding of the Race Rocks ecosystem becomes both a tangible and highly-desirable benefit of MPA designation.

Generally, MPAs are believed to the right choice for conserving Canadian marine ecosystems when there is minimal conflict with treaty claims and the candidate site is secure from uncontrollable threats that limit their potential effectiveness. The most significant threat that faces the Race Rocks ecosystem is a catastrophic ecological disaster caused by an oil or other hazardous material spill in or near the Juan de Fuca Strait. All respondents identified the shipping of oil and hazardous materials in the Juan de Fuca Strait as a primary conservation concern and it is hoped that with MPA designation for Race Rocks, DFO will maximize regulatory protection from this type of disaster to the fullest extent of Canadian Law. Another concern associated with commercial shipping in the Juan de Fuca Strait is the pollution and invasive species threats presented by bilge and ballast water dumping and exchange. Bilge and ballast waters can act as incubators for microbial life, and are responsible for transporting foreign species and human disease across the globe (WHO 2003). Water quality is the principal ecosystem component valued in the Race Rocks AOI, and a monitoring programme is required to meet dependent conservation objectives. The existing daily seawater-monitoring programme at Race Rocks performed by the on-site Eco-Guardian is not sufficient to detect or evaluate invasive biological threats to water quality in the AOI.

A key impact desired from MPA designation is the protected area’s contribution to economic and social welfare (UNEP 1995). Positive harvesting spillovers into adjacent areas are often cited as a way that MPAs increase environmental value and social benefits (Grafton et al. 2009). Both management and community stakeholders believe MPA designation will have a positive impact on Rockfish and other recreational fish stocks in the area. Unfortunately, with no baseline data from the Race Rocks AOI and a history of protection as an Ecological Reserve and Rockfish Conservation Area, little if any accrued positive harvesting spillover will be attributable to the costs of MPA designation for Race Rocks. Along similar lines, protection of the Northern abalone population, marine mammals, and seabirds in the Race Rocks AOI is highly valued by community stakeholders. Degradation of these populations and/or a reduction in their use of the AOI would create serious conservation, social, and economic problems, however it remains undetermined what impact invasive species such as River otters (Lutra canadensis) and non-migratory Canada geese (Branta canadensis) are having on the Race Rocks ecosystem. Filling knowledge gaps with an aim of optimizing ecological value are critical to meaningful habitat stewardship, and are time-sensitive for such matters as Northern abalone recovery efforts (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2007).

The Race Rocks AOI has become a significant destination for coastal tourism and recreation, including wildlife viewing, SCUBA diving, sportfishing, and recreational boating, such that a manned presence (presently a staff of Eco-Guardians) has become increasingly important to monitor and protect the Race Rocks ecosystem (Murgatroyd 1999). Significant efforts have been made by Pearson College to increase capacity of distance technology in—and no-impact access to—the AOI, however these valuable educational and monitoring tools require on-site maintenance and operation. Attracting sufficient donations to supervise the ecological reserve, supply educational resources, and maintain the infrastructure and personnel on Race Rocks has been a major challenge every year for Pearson College, but particularly so in the current economic climate. The College is in the process of cutting 40 of its 200 full-scholarship students with a concomitant 20% retraction in capacity and programming, thus the future of Race Rocks’ protection is in serious doubt without additional support. As the College’s current management mandate is to observe and report infractions, the resources of the Race Rocks AOI continue to be illegally harvested and degraded for private benefit. Ecological Reserve and MPA designation is intended to protect ecosystem structure, function and integrity, however only through increased monitoring and enforcement can management succeed in creating more desirable population structures of Rockfish (Grafton & Kompas 2009), reduce the probability of extirpation of the Northern abalone (Wallace 1999), and increase the aesthetic and recreational values of the Race Rocks resource for SCUBA divers and wildlife tours (Lloret et al. 2006).

Federal and provincial guidelines currently regulate commercial and recreational boating traffic in the Race Rocks AOI, however low compliance rates are an acknowledged conservation problem affecting seabird foraging and marine mammals. Regional consultations concerning the marine mammal viewing industry found a large majority of respondents supported implementation of additional regulations, however the effectiveness of these regulations was questioned because of the inherent problems of enforcement/monitoring and businesses’ lack of control of their operators (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2003). Wildlife viewing sector respondents indicated that any increase in compliance costs from additional MPA regulations would make their businesses interests in the Race Rocks AOI untenable, however a Cost Benefit Analysis will not support a regulatory decision if it imposes excessive burdens on Canadian business. Some respondents outside of the wildlife-viewing sector also replied that additional restrictions on boating traffic would be inappropriate, rather increased enforcement and compliance with existing PWWA and DFO guidelines were a more appropriate MPA management strategy, particularly in light of difficulties wildlife-viewing companies may have in controlling individual operators. Impacts of boating traffic on nesting seabirds in the Race Rocks AOI such as the Pigeon guillemot (Cepphus columba) have received very little research or management attention. However, research on the related Black guillemot (Cepphus grylle) in New Brunswick indicates that speed limits already in place for the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve act to reduce disturbance rates. It is currently unknown what impact foraging disturbances by boating traffic are having on seabird nesting success. As with Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) nursery areas, flexible management tools including seasonal avoidance of sensitive areas or additional distance afforded feeding organisms can be successfully employed in the AOI.

Finally, conservationists look to DFO to be a champion for Race Rocks at the federal level. Perhaps nowhere else in Canada are the conflicting interests of two federal agencies more apparent than on the two sides of Race Passage. At Race Rocks, DFO may not only demonstrate a contrasting, estimable example of federal stewardship of British Columbia’s coastal resources but showcase the Canadian government’s ability to enact positive change as well. Canadian citizens expect to demonstrate excellence on the world stage, and it is hoped that DFO will encourage and facilitate best practises at CFAD Rocky Point to eliminate the negative impact DND activities have on the Race Rocks AOI and surrounding waters. If Race Rocks becomes part of a national system of Marine Protected Areas that seek to minimize human impacts, DND must be tasked to assist DFO in achieving this national goal.

4.3 Sustainable Development

MPA designation is not a panacea for all the conservation problems facing the Race Rocks ecosystem. No management strategy or regulation enforcement can protect the waters in the Race Rocks AOI from ocean acidification or from global climate change. Furthermore, the scarcity of society’s unallocated financial resources is such that MPA conservation objectives will be designed for cost-effective measures of conservation success. What MPA designation for Race Rocks can do is to showcase on a national and international level a holistic approach to environmental stewardship that includes green energy and energy efficiency measures, water conservation methods, waste management, ecological restoration projects, and joint-stewardship practises.

The Integrated Energy Project overseen by Pearson College is responsible for a significant reduction in energy costs and carbon emissions in the AOI. Operation of the facilities on Great Race Rock has moved from 100% dependence on diesel generators in 1997 to 100% reliance on solar energy during the first week of October in 2010. Energy efficiency measures including LED bulbs, propane stoves and water heaters, and insulated windows have also reduced energy demands of management activities. The tidal turbine pilot project has demonstrated the benefits and challenges of tidal energy, while the College looks to incorporate wind energy to further offset fuel demand and carbon release to the atmosphere. The significant operational cost savings of these alternate energy projects are particularly valuable for the continued manned-presence required at Race Rocks.

There are no sources of fresh water in the Race Rocks AOI, so seawater must be desalinated by energetically expensive reverse osmosis. Besides drinking water and water for household use, the Energy Centre’s lead-acid storage batteries require continual additions of deionized water, buildings’ windows and walls require frequent washing to clean away salt deposits and alga growth, and most of the island’s solar panels require weekly washing and pressure washing to remove guano that reduce the effectiveness of the photovoltaic cells. All aspects of island life and operation from personal hygiene to battery chemistry attempt to best conserve water. Additional infrastructure is also being purchased as funds permit to recapture grey water and harness usable water from fog.

An overarching aim of Pearson College in managing the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve has been to minimize the ecological impact of the human presence on Great Race Rock. Waste management on Great Race Rock has evolved from raw sewage entering the ocean at two locations to composting toilets and a portable septic system that sees human waste transported out of the AOI and put through a sewage treatment system. Household waste, recyclable materials, and oil wastes are sorted and transported to Pearson College for proper disposal and re-use.

Habitat stewardship initiatives are another example of sustainable development of the Race Rocks AOI. The Ecological Restoration Project began in 1997 with the removal of excess concrete paths and a tank farm on Great Race Rock. This work was designed and performed such that environmental impacts on sensitive populations were minimized. Since the College began management of the ecological reserve, the timing and patterns of animal use have observed to change. For example, Elephant seals began to use Great Race Rock as a breeding colony in 2009 and their only access to the pupping grounds is via the light station boat’s slipway. Efforts began in 2010 to minimize human interference with Elephant seal access to the island. Stewardship of Race Rocks by the College holds that adaptive management is key to sustainable development and continued use of the marine ecosystem.

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Race Rocks MPA Designation: A Social, Economic and Cultural Overview | November 2010 PAGE 39
Race Rocks MPA Designation: A Social, Economic and Cultural Overview | November 2010