Socio-Economic Base Case Update for Race Rocks Proposed Marine Protected Area

Prepared For: Fisheries and Oceans Canada Oceans Division Suite #200 – 401 Burrard Street Vancouver, BC V6C 3S4
Prepared by: Randy Sunderman Peak Solutions Consulting Inc. Kamloops, BC
In association with:    Robinson Consulting and   Lions Gate Consulting Ltd.  Associates Ltd.     Vancouver, BC Victoria, BC    March 31, 2009
Table of Contents


    1. Background

In 1980, the Province of British Columbia recognized the natural values of the Race Rocks area by designating it as an ecological reserve under their Ecological Reserves Act. This authority provides for protection and conservation over the terrestrial (nine islets) and the ocean bottom (to a depth of 20 fathoms). The original ecological reserve was established by the province as a result of a proposal by Lester B. Pearson College to protect a provincially significant high current sub-tidal and inter-tidal ecosystem and provide outstanding educational and research opportunities.

Designation of Race Rocks as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) will further protect marine species and their habitat found within the boundaries of the existing ecological reserve. The marine ecosystem within this area is known for its exceptional diversity which is of importance to commercial and recreational fisheries in adjacent areas. It also protects critical habitat for threatened Northern abalone (News Release, Sept 2000).

The marine environment of the Pacific Coast is not currently well represented in either the federal or provincial protected areas systems.  The federal and provincial governments are committed to establishing a system of marine protected areas and have developed a draft, Marine Protected Areas Strategy, to service this purpose.  Race Rocks Ecological Reserve is a marine protected area as defined in this federal and provincial strategy (BC Ministry of Water, Land, and Air Protection.(2002)

B. Purpose and Approach

The purpose of this report is to update the previous socio-economic base line report that was originally completed in 1999.1  At the time, the Federal Government was exploring the establishment of Race Rocks as a pilot Marine Protected Area (MPA).  According to Canada’s Ocean Act, MPAs are legally designated areas that are designed and managed to conserve and protect the ecological integrity of marine ecosystems, species and habitats.  In support of this goal, the socio-economic base line report was completed and focused on the broad goal of documenting the existing knowledge, and planning and managing human pressures that may occur for the candidate MPA.

However, the process to establish the Race Rocks MPA was placed in abeyance in 2002. While the proposed area has not formally achieved MPA status, it continues to be managed as a provincial ecological reserve and has been subject to specific on-going fishing closures to preserve the integrity of this unique ecosystem.  Now, in 2009, interest to finalize this original process is being explored. As part of reinvigorating the Race Rocks MPA process, this socio-economic update work is being undertaken. This work is focused on reviewing those human activities that continue to be undertaken in the proposed MPA or that are likely to be undertaken in the MPA in the future.  Human activities that take place in close proximity to the proposed MPA and may influence activities within the MPA are also investigated.  These activities are further organized into three specific categories including:

  • Commercial activities – commercial fishing, marine-based tourism, media and commercial filming;
  • Neighbouring marine traffic – commercial shipping, military and coast guard, and recreational and private pleasure crafts;
  • Non-commercial activities – recreational activities, historical sites, research and education values, and military and coast guard values.

Activities that have not been historically undertaken within the proposed MPA and are not allowed to take place within the context of the existing ecological reserve designation are excluded from the socio-economic report.  Specifically, these sectors include mineral exploration and mining, forest harvesting, and oil and gas exploration and production.

In addition, Race Rocks is an important area for the local First Nations. The associated First Nation interests, traditional uses, and economic activities are covered in a separate report and have not been included in this report.

    1. Local Area Defined

Race Rocks is located 17 kilometres southwest of Victoria at 123 degrees 31.85’W latitude and 48 degrees 17.95’N longitude.  It is 1.5 kilometres off of Rocky Point, the extreme southern tip of Vancouver Island, at the eastern end of the Juan de Fuca Strait. Race Rocks is the southern most part of Canada on the Pacific Coast.

The closest community to Race Rocks is the District of Metchosin.

The ecological reserve was established in 1980, and expanded in 2001 to include the majority of the island known as Great Race Rock. This addition includes the land and surplus support buildings from the lighthouse, but does not include the actual navigation light or land necessary to operate the structure. The Race Rocks ecological reserve covers an area of 227 hectares, of which about 2 hectares is terrestrial.  The remaining 225 hectares cover provincial seabed, to a depth of approximately 20 fathoms (BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, 2002).

The Race Rocks proposed Marine Protected Area consists of the marine waters that surround Race Rocks.  The nine islets, down to the low tide mark that make up Race Rocks will continue to be managed as a provincial Ecological Reserve.  Figure 1-1 highlights the Race Rock ecological reserve and the proposed Marine Protected Area.

Figure 1-1: Proposed Race Rocks Marine Protected Area

Source: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2009

    1. Report Organization

Following this introduction, the report is organized as follows:

  • Section 2 outlines the administrative structure focusing on the administrative responsibilities and governance structure.
  • Section 3 outlines the socio-economic characteristics and trends for the Capital Regional District.
  • Section 4 overviews the commercial activities focusing on the commercial fisheries, media and commercial film activities, coast guard, and Canadian military.
  • Section 5 investigates the tourism and recreation activities in the vicinity of the proposed MPA.
  • Section 6 highlights research and educational activities.
  • Section 7 briefly overviews the historical and archeological sites in the area.
  • Section 8 discusses conclusions and data gaps.

Finally, the report concludes with several Appendices that support the discussions in the body of the report.

    1. Land Use & Resource Management

2.1 Overview

Race Rocks Ecological reserves were established by provincial Order-in-Council in 1980.  The reserve was established to protect intertidal and subtidal communities that are extremely rich as a result of strong tidal currents.  The designation under the Ecological Reserve Act (Section 5) withdraws and reserves from any further disposition that might otherwise be granted under any Act or law in force in British Columbia.   For example, no dispositions are permitted under the following Acts: Coal ActForest ActLand ActMineral Tenure ActMining Right of Way ActPetroleum and Natural Gas ActRange ActWater Act.

In 2002, the province initiated the management plan for the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve (BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, 2002).   The management plan sets out the role of the reserve, the key management issues and management objectives, and the responsibilities and relationship among governments and agencies in implementing the plan.  The Reserve will be managed in a way that allows educational and research opportunities to the extent that impacts from these activities are within acceptable limits. 

The roles of the federal and provincial governments and others are addressed below.

2.1 Federal Government

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for navigable waters, organisms in the water column, and for managing marine resources under the Fisheries Act and theOceans Act. The Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for the management of the Great Race Rock and the light house.  The Department of National Defense (DND) also owns nearby lands and maintains an interest in adjacent waters for military purposes.

Given this range of interests, the federal government views the Ecological Reserve Management plan as an “umbrella” agreement coordinating complementary marine protection initiatives arising from designation of adjacent waters under the Oceans Act.

2.2 Provincial Government

The responsibility for implementing the management plan rests with BC Parks. For management issues requiring federal/provincial cooperation, BC Parks coordinates provincial government agency participation as necessary or appropriate. The agency will work cooperatively with First Nations to ensure that their rights are upheld and their interests are incorporated into management directions.

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.

2.3 Local Government

The local government has no explicit responsibility in the management plan.  The reserve is surrounded by 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.  In addition, in Metchosin’s OCP the Whirl Bay, Rocky Point and Bentinck Island Group are listed as potential or future park areas (District of Metchosin, April 1994).

Issues associated with the Community Charter and the Official Community Planning and construction of buildings or business ventures on the islands many involve input from the local government. 

2.4 Public Involvement

The province encourages community involvement in the stewardship of parks and ecological reserves.  Given the interest in the Race Rocks ecological reserve and its proximity to an urban area, it is anticipated that there will be good opportunities to garner community involvement in the future.  In particular, since the reserve was established the Biological and Environmental Systems faculty and students of Lester B. Pearson College (the College) have taken the role of reserve warden.  Since March of 1997, the College has provided a human presence for protection of the ecological reserve and buildings at Race Rocks ( Pearson College manages the island and operates the facilities with the primary objective of:

  • Protecting the ecological values of the island and surrounding ecological reserve;
  • Maximizing educational opportunities; and,
  • Facilitating research.
    1. Socio-Economic Characteristics and Trends

    1. Community Overview
      1. Location

As mentioned above, Race Rocks is located within the Capital Regional District (CRD) on the southern most part of Vancouver Island. Figure 3-1 provides an overview of the CRD and surrounding area.

Figure 3-1: Capital Regional DistrictYour browser may not support display of this image.

Source: BC Stats.

      1. Population and Trend

In 2008, there were an estimated 364,106 people living in the Capital Regional District. Metchosin, with a population of 5,091 in 2008, is the closest community to Race Rocks. Table 3-1 shows the population associated with communities in the Capital Regional District.  In 2008, Capital Regional District had a population that was approximately 10.0% larger than in 1996.

Table 3-1: Capital Regional District Population, 1996 to 2008

1996 2001 2006 2008
Central Saanich 15,125 16,048 16,005 16,216
Colwood 14,384 14,575 15,260 16,012
Esquimalt 16,820 17,037 17,513 17,660
Highlands 1,479 1,822 2,010 2,115
Langford 18,206 20,070 23,513 26,090
Metchosin 4,890 5,113 4,969 5,091
North Saanich 10,750 10,630 10,923 11,061
Oak Bay 18,457 18,013 18,040 18,085
Saanich 105,253 108,607 111,575 113,209
Sidney 11,062 11,299 11,510 11,544
Sooke 8,763 9,226 10,077 10,859
Victoria 76,678 77,490 80,871 81,874
View Royal 6,690 7,719 9,126 9,301
Unincorporated Area 22,525 22,939 24,479 24,989
RD Total: 331,082 340,588 355,871 364,106

Source: BC Stats. February 2009. 

In 1941 the population of the CRD was 86,492 and by 1961 the population reached 161,947.  In 1981, the year after the Race Rocks ecological reserve was formed, the population of the CRD stood at 249,473. Since 1941 the CRD population has increased by over four fold, and since 1981 it has increased 1.5 times.

Looking ahead the population will continue its steady rate of growth, and over the next 10 years the population is anticipated to increase a further 11.0%.  This represents a slight increase in the rate of growth over the current pace of population growth that has been experienced in the last ten years. In respect to total population, it is anticipated the population of the CRD will pass 400,000 by 2017 when it reaches approximately 401,000. By 2036 it is anticipated the CRD population will reach 451,200 (BC Stats. P.E.O.P.L.E 33, 2008).

      1. Labour Force

Table 3-2 highlights the size and change in the CRD labour force between 2001 and 2006 and compares this to the change in the labour force at the provincial level. Over this period the goods producing sector enjoyed strong growth; this was lead by very strong expansion in the construction sector. The service producing sector was also up, but on a much more modest level. Overall, the CRD labour force grew slightly faster than the provincial experienced labour force.

Table 3-2: Labour Force By Industry, 2001 and 2006

Capital Regional District BC
2001 2006 % Change % Change
111-112 Farms 1,295 1,525 +17.8% +5.2%
113 Forestry and Logging 335 330 -1.5% -10.0
114 Fishing, hunting and trapping 485 375 -22.7% +1.3%
1151/2 Support Activities to agr. 50 115 +130.0% +11.3%
1153 Support Activities to Forestry 345 340 -1.4% -21.5%
21 Mining and oil gas extraction 165 310 +87.9% +42.6%
22 Utilities 670 590 -11.9% -3.4%
23 Construction 9,440 13,355 +41.5% +39.9%
31-33 Manufacturing 7,510 7,725 2.9% -2.7%
Total Goods Producing Sector: 20,295 24,665 +21.5%
41 Wholesale Trade 3,950 4,765 +20.6% +11.6%
44-45 Retail Trade 20,270 21,530 +6.2% +6.9%
48-49 Transportation & Warehousing 7,070 7,000 -1.0% +0.6%
51 Information & Cultural Industries 4,090 4,375 +7.0% -5.3%
52 Finance and insurance 5,630 6,570 +16.7% +4.5%
53 Real Estate & Rental/Leasing 3,960 4,295 +8.5% +22.1%
54 Prof., scientific & tech. services 12,555 15,470 +23.2% +18.6%
55 Manag. of companies/ent’prise 80 205 +156.3% +126.6%
56 Admin & support, waste magment 7,210 8,715 +20.9% +20.4%
61 Educational service 13,150 14,215 +8.1% +9.2%
62 Health care and social assistance 21,795 22,500 +3.2% +6.5%
71 3.2Arts, entertainment & recreation 4,170 5,285 +26.7% +11.3%
72 Accommodation and food services 14,580 16,380 +12.3% +7.7%
81 Other Services (excl public admin.) 7,600 8,945 +17.7% +11.8%
91 Public Administration 24,210 24,060 -0.6% -2.0%
Total Service Producing Sector: 150,320 164,310 +9.3%
Industry – Not Applicable 2,975 1,760 -40.8% -26.6%
Total Experienced Labour Force: 173,590 190,735 +9.9% +8.1%

Source: Statistics Canada.  

Unemployment in the CRD in 2001 was 6.6%, declining to 4.3% in 2006 (Statistic Canada 2006).  This was lower than the rate observed at the provincial level, which experienced an unemployment rate of 8.5% in 2001 and a rate of 6.0% in 2006.  Unemployment rates are anticipated to rise in the CRD in coming months. However, despite the economic recession currently underway in North America, unemployment rates remained low in Victoria, with the January 2009 unemployment level reported at 3.9% (Statistic Canada. 2009).

3.1.4 Local Area Dependency

The Capital Regional District (CRD) consists of three local dependency areas as defined by BC Stats and includes the Gulf Islands, Victoria, and Sooke-Port Renfrew.2  Looking more closely at the after-tax income in the local economy in the CRD it becomes apparent that the public sector is the key economic driver. Table 3-3 highlights the economic dependencies over the four census periods from 1991 to 2006.  As illustrated, public administration expanded rapidly in the Victoria and Sooke-Port Renfrew local areas in the 1990s but is now pulling back slightly. Tourism falls a distant second to public administration in the three local areas.  Much of the remaining income in the three areas comes from transfer payments and other non-employment income sources. Non-employment income sources saw very strong growth in the Sooke-Port Renfrew local area between 2001 and 2006. 

Table 3-3: Local Economic Dependency and Change, 1991 to 2006 (% of basic income)

Vancouver Island portion of the Mount Waddington RD
2006 1 1 0 1 6 39 16 13 23
2001 1 0 0 1 6 41 14 16 20
1996 1 0 0 1 7 41 15 16 19
1991 2 1 0 1 3 33 17 8 35
Gulf Islands
2006 2 0 1 3 7 18 19 17 33
2001 1 0 1 2 7 18 18 20 32
1996 1 0 2 2 7 19 17 21 31
1991 3 1 2 2 6 18 17 8 43
Sooke-Port Renfrew
2006 4 1 1 0 8 35 19 13 19
2001 3 0 2 1 6 42 18 18 11
1996 6 0 1 1 7 41 15 17 11
1991 8 2 3 1 4 32 22 5 23

Source:  Ministry of Management Services.

Note:  FOR=Forestry & related manufacturing; MIN=Mining, oil & gas & related processing; F&T= Fishing & trapping & related processing; AGF= Agriculture & food processing; TOU= Tourism; PUB=Public sector; OTH=All other basic industries; TRAN=Transfer payments from government; ONEI=Other non-employment income.

  1. Commercial and Industrial Activities
    1. Commercial Shipping

4.1.1 Current and Historical Situation

Commercial shipping in this context includes deep sea vessels carrying bulk commodities, containers, general freight and passengers. 


Commercial marine traffic in Juan de Fuca is managed under the Canada/United States Cooperative Vessel Traffic Services Agreement operated by the Canadian and United States coast guards.   The formal agreement took effect in 1979.  Its purpose is to provide safe and efficient movement of vessel traffic while minimizing the risk of pollution by preventing collisions and groundings, and the environmental damage that would follow. 

Vessel traffic services (VTS) include a traffic separation scheme, with inbound and outbound lanes, with a separation zone between the opposing lanes, radar surveillance and vessel movement reporting. 

The Agreement sets out the service areas and responsibilities of the three marine communication offices involved.  Tofino Traffic provides VTS for the offshore approaches to the Juan de Fuca Strait and along the Washington State coastline.  Seattle Traffic provides VTS for both the Canadian and US waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait, and Victoria Traffic provides VTS for both Canadian and US waters of Haro Strait, Boundary Passage, and the lower Georgia Straits. The traffic separation lanes and the zones of responsibility are shown in Figure 4-1.

Figure 4-1: Vessel Traffic Management System

Source:  US Coast Guard, 2009.

The outbound lanes for traffic coming from Haro Strait and Puget Sound join about 3-4 kms south of the Race Rocks lighthouse.  For ships bound for or leaving Canadian ports, the responsibility for VTS shifts from Victoria Traffic to Seattle Traffic at about this intersection. 

Vessels required to participate in the VTS are vessels greater than 20 metres and every ship involved in towing or pushing any vessel.  This would include all deep-sea traffic and some coastal vessels. A plot of marine traffic density was prepared for this study by Fisheries and Oceans using ship observation data from the VTS for the region covered.   The plot map is shown on the following page. The heavier vessel traffic volumes clearly demarcate the vessel traffic lanes.  In particular, there is relatively heavy volume of inbound/outbound vessel traffic south and east of Race Rocks.

A more detailed analysis was completed regarding the number of vessels traveling past Race Rocks in Juan de Fuca Strait.  As shown on the map (See Figure 4-2below), six 5 kilometre by 5 kilometre cells were defined on a line across the Strait with the cells being labeled “A” to “F” (See Appendix C).  Table 4-1 indicates the type and number of vessels that pass through the grid by season and for the total year.  The total year values are reflective of the traffic indicated in Figure 4-2.  The data is for the calendar year 2003, which was indicated to be a representative year.  Grid cells “B” and “C” are immediately adjacent to Race Rocks.  According to this data, the traffic volume in “B” is less than a quarter of that in “C”, and is predominantly commercial fish boats and tugs. 

Table 4-1: Vessel Movements by Grid Cell and Season for 2003

ShipType A B C D E F
Cargo 230 28 812 2945 371 0
Cruise 27 10 60 250 33 0
Fishing 19 191 182 199 120 0
Tug 56 83 275 147     537 3
Tanker 12 1 40 572     143 0
Total 344 313 1369 4113 1204 3
ShipType A B C D E F
Cargo 236 19 635 2267 324 0
Cruise 0 1 0 2 2 0
Fishing 6 104 91 60 67 0
Tug 79 96 195 104 350 1
Tanker 11 1 28 436 99 0
Total 332 221 949 2869 842 1
ShipType A B C D E F
Cargo 466 47 1,447 5,212 695 0
Cruise 27 11 60 252 35 0
Fishing 25 295 273 259 187 0
Tug 135 179 470 251 887 4
Tanker 23 2 68 1,008 242 0
Total 676 534 2,318 6,982 2,046 4

Source: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Likely most of this traffic passes through Race Passage.   Cell “C” is at least partially within the VTS system, which accounts for the higher traffic volume and dominance of large vessels (e.g. cargo, cruise and tanker).  The highest traffic volume is in cell “D”, which is mid-strait and because of VTS is where most of the inbound and outbound traffic passes (See Figure 4-2 below).

Figure 4-2: Density of Vessel Traffic, 2003

Source: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

4.1.2 Future Situation

Growth in inbound and outbound deep sea traffic will be related to growth in freight demands at the ports served, the largest ports being the Port of Vancouver and the Port of Seattle.  In 2008, the Port of Vancouver had 3,005 foreign vessels (Port of Vancouver, 2008) and 1,226 arrived at Port of Seattle Facilities (Port of Seattle, 2008).   Investments to increase the efficiency and expand the capacity of the ports are on-going.  The recent  $225 million in funding for infrastructure improvements along the North Shore of Burrard Inlet in Vancouver is an example.

    1. Coast Guard

4.2.1 Current and Historical Situation

Being situated between British Columbia’s Lower Mainland shoreline and Vancouver Island, the Victoria MCTS area of responsibility has one of Canada’s highest concentrations of small pleasure craft, and hence the largest share of Search and Rescue operations in Canada. From a VTS perspective, all deep draught vessels inbound and outbound from Vancouver, all of the tugs and tows and coastal freighters involved in Washington and Alaska state trade must pass through those waters regulated by the officer at Victoria MCTS. All this, combined with the local commercial trade, demonstrate that this centre has the highest number of vessel traffic movements in the country (Canadian Coast Guard. Website 2009).The Victoria MCTS separated from the Vancouver MCTS in 1997 and has operated separately ever since. 

Most of the business for the Canadian Coast guard in the Race Rocks area is serving whale touring, sportfishing, and diving vessels (Nemrava.2009. pers. Comm.). Table 4-2 highlights the number of Canadian Coast Guard responses in what approximates to the Victoria MCTS area between 2004 and 2007.  This area is approximately all of British Columbia’s southern inside waters; specifically, all waters between Juan de Fuca to the south, and Ballenas Island to the north.  Race Rocks falls within SAR Region 301, which is a subset of the larger area, and typically represents 20% of all coast guard incident attendances.  

Table 4-2: Canadian Coast Guard Incident Attendance, 2004 to 2007

Year SAR Region 301 SAR Regions 301, 302 & 303 SAR 301 % of Total
2004 271 1,299 20.9%
2005 252 1,261 20.0%
2006 207 1,109 18.7%
2007 231 1,115 20.7%
Total:      961 4,784                     20.1%

  Source: Data Conversion, Canadian Coast Guard. 2009.

Note: SAR Regions 301, 302, 303 approximates the MCTS Victoria Region which covers all waters from Juan De Fuca Strait to the south, and Ballenas Island to the north.

      1. Future Situation

Over the past four years, coast guard activities in the region and SAR 301 have remained constant.  However, as population grows in the CRD and surrounding areas, it is anticipated that pleasure craft activities will climb.  In addition, the three key ports in the area (Victoria, Vancouver, and Seattle) have plans for future growth and this too will likely translate into greater demand for coast guard services, both in the Race Rocks area and the Victoria MCTS area in general.

    1. Canadian Military

4.3.1 Current and Historical Situation

The proposed Race Rocks Marine Protected Area (MPA) is partially within the Department of National Defence’s (DND) military buffer zone.  This area is known as Military Training Area WQ (Whiskey Quebec); however, no training activities actually occur within the Race Rocks Ecological Reserve (Demarchi and Bentley, 2003). DND regularly utilizes three areas including Rocky Point, Whirl Bay and Bentinck Island. DND owns both Bentinck Island and a 2,500 hectare area at Rocky Point.  DND is also the controlling interest at Whirl Bay. These areas have been utilized by DND over a long period of time.  Figure 4-2  highlights the proximity of the DND areas to the Race Rocks MPA.

Figure 4-3: Military Buffer Zone

Source: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Surplus and outdated ordnances are disposed in WQ by Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Rocky Point at the Christopher Point Ordnance Disposal Range. Disposal activities are conducted on an as-required basis, and unlike the other ranges in WQ, activities on the Christopher Point Range are not tied to training schedules. However, on average one to 12 high-order detonations on up to 25 days of the year has been estimated (Demarchi and Bentley, 2004).  In response to concerns raised by Pearson College and wildlife tour operators, DND has been exploring strategies to mitigate any potential impacts on surrounding wildlife (Waters. 2009. pers comm.).  Currently, blasting is spaced at five minute intervals in an effort to minimize wildlife from being startled.

At Whirl Bay, located west of Race Rocks, DND maintains their Underwater Demolition Range which  is used primarily by Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) for underwater demolitions and ordnance testing using charges of C4 plastique ranging from 0.5 to 10 kilograms (Demarchi  and Bentley, 2004). Beginning in 2002, DND began deploying a bubble curtain to mitigate the shock pulse of underwater detonations. In addition, efforts are now made to scare away fish and wildlife from the blast sight prior to denotation.   

Bentinck Island is a 31 hectare area that is used primarily by Canadian Forces Fleet School as a demolition range for above-water beach-clearing and obstacle-creation exercises involving metal cutting and displacement and demolition of rocks and logs. Demolition training is conducted on the central beaches of Bentinck Island, with a line-of-sight to Race Rocks. The site is typically used approximately 56 days of the year (Demarchi and Bentley, 2004).

In addition to the three areas mentioned above, DND also has control over an area south and east of Race Rocks in the Juan de Fuca Strait.  This area is used from time to time for training exercises as well. With respect to marine traffic, the Race Rocks area is used about once a week as the Canadian Navy passes by Race Rocks enroute to Pedder Bay where they dock at the Rock Point jetty for access to the ammunition dump.  In the region, the Canadian Navy also utilizes an exercise area at William Head, well to the west of Race Rocks, and both the US and Canadian Navies utilize the water in the vicinity of Hind Bank, which lies further to the east. 

4.3.2 Future Situation

As mentioned above, the areas currently used by DND in proximity to Race Rocks MPA forms an important component of their activities in the region. It is anticipated that the training, demolition, and ammunition depot uses currently in place will continue for the foreseeable future. 

    1. Commercial Fisheries and Aquaculture
      1. Current and Historical Situation

In BC, employment in commercial fishing and aquaculture has moved in opposite directions over the past two decades.  In 1984 the provincial labour force in commercial fisheries was 4,100; however, by 2005, the last year that statistics are available, employment had declined to 2,000.  Conversely, employment in aquaculture has increased steadily since 1984, going from 900 to 2,100 in 2005 (BC Stats. BC’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector, 2007). The commercial fishing and aquaculture sector also support the fish processing sector jobs, which has seen employment remain relatively stable moving from 4,100 in 1984 to 3,700 in 2005. 

The British Columbian commercial fisheries, aquaculture and fish processing generated $550 million of the province’s “real”3 gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005.  These sectors accounted for less than one percent (0.4%) of BC’s total GDP at basic prices, which reached $131 billion in 2005. In 1984, these three sectors made up $323 million of provincial GDP or 0.5% of total GDP of $68 billion (BC Stats. BC’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector, 2007).

Locally, commercial fishing supports a labour force of 375 in 2006. This represents a decline in the fishing labour force from 2001 of 485.  While the fishing sector has a long history in the CRD it has been a small part of the local economy for long time and continues to decline in importance.

      1. Future Situation 

The fishing industry has likely bottomed and will likely show modest growth in employment and harvest in the future. However, its economic contribution to the economy of the CRD will remain small.

  1. Tourism and Recreation Activities
    1. Overview

This chapter looks at tourism and recreation activities on Southern Vancouver Island with a focus on ocean-based outdoor recreation. Five activities are profiled, including boating, angling, wildlife viewing, kayaking and diving. The context of these activities in and around Race Rocks and the wider study area is examined as well.

The baseline information provided here is generally presented as cited in the originating source. Very few of these sources are able or attempt to distinguish between tourism use as defined by Tourism BC4, and local resident use.  Therefore, demand estimates include both tourist and resident use. A tourism context is more easily provided by looking at supply-side conditions, particularly lodges, resorts, charter outfits and guiding operations that obtain the majority, if not all their business from tourists. Where this information is available, it is included in the profile of each activity.

As a general introduction to ocean-based recreation, Table 5-1 shows some of the latest research on Canadian and BC resident participation on ocean recreation. In terms of participation while on a trip, BC residents were national leaders at 41.3%, while the Canadian average was 36.1%. The Tourism BC research also found that BC was considered the most appealing ocean destination in North America, more so than major US destinations such as California and Hawaii. (TBC, January 2009) What this research clearly indicates is the potential demand among resident and visitor markets for ocean activities on the BC coast.

Table 5-1: Canadian Participation in Ocean Activities While on Trips

Total Population Estimated Number

Who Participated in

Ocean Activities on

a Trip

Percent of Pleasure

Travellers in Region

Who Participated in

Ocean Activities on

a Trip

Percent of Total

Regional Population

Who Participated in

Ocean Activities on

a Trip

Canada 24,776,103 8,951,385 48.5% 36.1%
Atlantic Provinces 1,822,494 504,324 39.8% 27.7%
Quebec 5,940,869 2,103,012 50.1% 35.4%
Ontario 9,671,592 3,493,703 48.7% 36.1%
Manitoba 843,107 264,406 44.4% 31.4%
Saskatchewan 706,325 225,908 41.7% 32.0%
Alberta 2,465,540 985,627 49.2% 40.0%
British Columbia 3,326,176 1,374,405 51.6% 41.3%

Source: Tourism BC January 2009.

    1. Recreational Boating
      1. Current and Historical Situation

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, we have profiled sea kayaking separately—recreational boating is therefore associated with power and sailboat cruising, and more specifically refers to cruising or sailing as the main purpose of the activity (as distinct from fishing). It includes cruising by local residents and visiting boaters. These boaters will make both operating and capital expenditures. The latter are primarily directed toward the recreational boating industry which consists of manufacturers of sailboats, powerboats, personal watercrafts, and human powered boats as well as companies that manufacture marine equipment for boats of all sizes, docks, and mooring equipment, marine and safety clothing, maintenance products, cleaning and marina equipment.

The coastal waters of British Columbia provide many opportunities for boating, with over 27,000 kilometres of marine shoreline and countless anchorages and proximity to boating and hospitality services making the coast a top cruising destination. Race Rocks itself and Race Passage are considered high use boating areas for three reasons. First, they occupy a strategic location within Juan de Fuca Strait with the only direct water access from Georgia Strait and Puget Sound to fishing grounds and wildlife viewing areas on the west coast. Second, Race Rocks is a showcase for marine life, featuring whales, sea lions, seals, birds and an array of underwater plants and animals. The cold, nutrient-rich waters from the Pacific are forced upwards to the surface in and around the islets, while fast-moving water with eddies and whirlpools supports an ecosystem very rich in marine mammals, fish, invertebrates and birds. And third, a population of more than six million in the Georgia Basin and Puget Sound with high rates of boat ownership and use has contributed to continuing strong demand for recreational boating in the regional coastal waters.

Despite the accepted popularity of boating in the region, there is no statistically reliable estimate of use levels within or through the study area. A 2003 study (Economic Planning Group) estimated the number of registered salt water craft to be close to 200,000 in 2000, but the Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimated 325,000 registered craft in the same year and another 200,000 unregistered coastal craft. The same study estimated another 50,000 US travellers entered Canadian Pacific waters on a private boat. (DFO, 2003)

A recent study released by Discover Boating estimated total domestic spending in BC on boating in 2005 of $1.9 billion which produced 19,000 jobs and provided $705 million in labour force income. (Genesis 2007) Another study (Table 5-2) commissioned by the federal and provincial governments, estimated boating (in this case all power boating including wildlife viewing, kayaking and diving) expenditures of $2.4 billion, labour force income of $1.2 billion and direct employment of 32,000, in 2005. If the proportion of BC coastal recreation marine activity in the study area is similar to its share of angling activity as measured by boating trips (6.6% in 2005), then expenditures would be approximately $160 million, provincial GDP $120 million, labour income $80 million and person-years of employment of approximately 2,100. Based on the Discover Boating Study, study area estimates for power/sail boating only are $125 million, labour force income of $47 million and employment of approximately 1,500.

Much of this spending would be directed at yacht clubs, marinas and service businesses along the coast and particularly in the Capital region. There are about 10 major marinas in the Victoria area, another 15 in Vancouver (Economic Planning Group, 2003) and more than 150 on Vancouver Island and the mainland coast south of Cape Caution (DFO, 2003). Expenditures boaters make for fuel, supplies, automotive travel, retail purchases and hospitality purchases would be distributed amongst numerous businesses across the region.

Table 5-2: Coastal BC Expenditures on Boating and other Marine Activities, 2002-2005

2002 2003 2004 2005
Direct Expenditures ($millions) 2,139 2,143 2,297 2,433
GDP ($millions ) 1,610 1,630 1,740 1,820
Labour income ($millions) 1,080 1,100 1,170 1,220
Employment (person-years) 28,500 28,800 30,100 32,200

Source: Gislason, 2007.

Note: The definition of marine activities excludes angling and cruise ships, but does include all forms of boating, including power boating as a primary purpose, wildlife viewing, kayaking and diving.

      1. Future Situation

Future boating use in the study area is expected to increase primarily as a function of population growth but also due to a general increase in participation in motorized activities attributable to the baby boomer generation. Participation rates will increase because of increasing wealth and also because the ageing population will become more inclined to seek out the ease and convenience of access afforded by motorized recreation. (Martin, 2007)

    1. Fishing (tidal)
      1. Current and Historical Situation

The waters of the southern Georgia and Juan de Fuca straits remain a tremendously popular choice for year-round saltwater fishing. All five salmon species are present, as well as halibut, groundfish species and invertebrates such as prawn and crab. Rich and abundant ecosystems with nutrient-rich waters and a favourable location within migratory pathways have traditionally supported an active sport fishery with domestic and international participation. The peak of the salmon-fishing season occurs in the late summer, with halibut being the main target species in the winter months.

As seen in Table 5-1, the recreation fishery catch in the study area5 has declined in the last 20 years due to a number of contributing factors. Changing demographics have contributed to an overall BC decline in fishing participation—in the last 10 years the number of fishing licences sold in this province declined by 8.4%, even though the total population grew by 8.2%. The decline in availability of major target species, mainly the salmonid populations of Coho and Chinook, has also played a major role. Lastly, the fact that many fishermen now engage in catch-and-release has led to a harvest decline. Despite the declining catch, however, the actual time spent fishing, as measured by the number of boat trips, has been increasing for most of this decade, after previous decades of decline. This increase appears to be the result of a shift in fishing effort from some of the more traditional Georgia and Johnstone Strait fishing areas over to the west coast of southern Vancouver Island.

Figure 5-1: Sport Fishery Salmon Activity DFO Statistical Areas 19 and 20, 1987-2006

Source: DFO, Georgia Strait Creel Survey, Annual Summaries of Catch and Effort.

Note: Salmon Harvest refers to number of fish caught and is indicated on the left side of the chart while the number of boat trips is indicated on the right hand side of the chart.

The harvest of species other than salmon, while still below levels experienced in the 1980s, has been relatively stable over the last 15 years (Figure 5-2).

Figure 5-2: Sport Fishery (Other than Salmon) Activity in DFO Statistical Areas 19 and 20, 1987-2006

Source: DFO, Georgia Strait Creel Survey, Annual Summaries of Catch and Effort.

Note: Salmon Harvest refers to number of fish caught and is indicated on the left side of the chart while the number of boat trips is indicated on the right hand side of the chart.
The use of Race Rocks itself as a recreational fishing ground is only anecdotally documented and the number of anglers active in the area can only be guessed. In the previous 1999 baseline, Race Rocks was estimated to support 4,320 sport fishing trips annually. Our conversations with industry representatives indicate that this activity has likely remained stable over the last decade, although that may mask changes in participation and demand for certain species. Some forms of fishing are not allowed at Race Rocks, including a continuing closure to the use of hook and line fishing to protect rockfish in waters shallower than the 40 m depth contour. Shellfish harvesting is also prohibited within 800 metres of Great Race Rock. However, year-round salmon and halibut fishing is possible outside this closed area.  The waters surrounding Race Rocks and the area remains very popular with anglers.

The other aspect of the tidal recreation fishery is the charter and guided fishing component. In 2005, anglers spent $140 million on package deals and another $16 million on fishing services, including charters (DFO, 2007). Although charters and packages comprise a major share of total fishing expenditures, the number of charter outfits and resorts that cater specifically to anglers has been declining in BC and in the study area. In 2002, the number of chartered fishing outfits in BC numbered 500, a 50 percent decline from 1994 (Gislason, 2004).  Resorts such as Brentwood Bay Lodge that used to cater almost exclusively to anglers now accommodate other markets such as spa travellers, while charter companies active in the 1990s no longer exist.

In 2005, the total value of recreational fishing saw close to 275,000 anglers fish in BC tidal waters, for an average of eight days or a total of 2.2 million angling days. Direct expenditures for food, lodging supplies and services were approximately $365 million. Another $268 million was spent on major equipment such as fishing gear, boats and motor vehicles. The average active angler in BC tidal waters in 2005 would have spent about $2,300 on direct and major equipment purchases. (DFO 2007) In the same year (2005), the total number of boating trips in the study area represented 6.6% of the provincial total. If average expenditure data was applied to study area anglers, this would result in a study area value of approximately $24 million in 2005.

      1. Future Situation

The long-term decline in participation rates (as measured by the sale of fishing licences) will likely continue into the future but how this actually affects fishing activity in the study area is far from clear. The secular decline in the fish resource would appear to suggest that fishing opportunities will be less in the future than they are today. But this may not necessarily lead to a decline in fishing activity if anglers change the way in which they value the fishing experience.  Creel surveys already indicate a growing occurrence of catch-and-release and many anglers seem to be willing to invest in greater catch efforts than they have in the past. Thus, even though the catch itself may remain stable or decline, the overall activity and effort may not. We would expect that overall regional population growth and the prevalence of fishing as a secondary activity for other primary ocean recreation activities are factors which contribute to a relatively stable recreational fishery in the future.

    1. Wildlife Viewing
      1. Current and Historical Situation

Wildlife viewing is a very difficult activity to document and classify, because it can be formal or informal, guided or unguided, undertaken in conjunction with other activities and even incidental if it is not a primary purpose of the trip or outing. It can be oriented toward simply watching, but nature study, photography and even feeding in the case of birds may be part of the experience. Even so, past studies have shown it to be a major recreation activity in this province and an increasingly important tourism product.

As shown inTable 5-3 during 2005 and 2006, 30.7% (7,605,527) of adult Canadians went wildlife viewing while on an out-of-town, overnight trip of one or more nights. Wildlife viewing was the second most common outdoor activity undertaken by Canadian leisure travellers. The most popular activities were visiting a nature park (22.8%) and viewing land-based animals (10.4%). Viewing whales and other marine life was the main reason for taking at least one trip by 8.4% of travellers, a market of over two million. The same study found that 36.9% of BC residents participated in wildlife viewing while on a trip, a market of 1.2 million. (Lang October 2007) US leisure travellers to Canada were slightly less likely to participate in wildlife viewing (26.9%) and whale watching (6.3%) (Lang, April 2007). In 2007, Victoria received 3.6 million overnight visitors, most of which were leisure travellers. The implied visitor market for whale watching, taking into account the mix of Canadian and US travellers, is approximately 250,000.

Table 5-3: Incidence of Wildlife Viewing on Trips by Canadians, 2006

Number of Wildlife Viewers Percent Main Reason for Trip Percent of Pleasure Travelers Percent of Total Canadian Population
Size of Market 7,605,527 2,681,779 18,439,508 24,776,103
Wildlife Viewing (All Activities) 7,605,527 35.3% 41.2% 30.7%
Visiting nature park (national, provincial/state) 5,641,104 37.9% 30.6% 22.8%
Viewing land-based animals 2,568,271 17.8% 13.9% 10.4%
Whale watching & other marine life 2,089,761 23.9% 11.3% 8.4%
Viewing wildflowers/flora 1,918,587 14.3% 10.4% 7.7%
Birdwatching 1,852,950 16.6% 10.0% 7.5%
Viewing northern lights 1,085,075 10.3% 5.9% 4.4%
Participated in all six wildlife viewing activities 97,597 6.4% 0.5% 0.4%

Source: Lang, October 2007.

Table 5-4 shows direct and indirect participation rates for wildlife viewing in BC regions, by BC residents. In 2001, Vancouver Island residents participated in close to 21 million days of wildlife viewing, five million of those direct. A total of 184,000 residents participated in wildlife viewing, a rate of 26%. Using the TAMS research cited above, 56,000 Vancouver Island residents would directly participate in whale watching, while in the Capital region, the estimate of resident participation is 30,000, and total activity days 810,000.

The combined visitor and resident market for whale watching in the study area is therefore estimated at greater than one million days of activity.6 

Table 5-4 Days of Indirect and Direct Participation in Wildlife Activities by Region, 2001

Indirect Participation Direct Participation
Region of Activity Total Days of Activity Average Days per Participant Total Days of Activity Average Days per Participant
Vancouver Island 15,726,970 50.2 5,057,550 27.5
Lower Mainland 41,937,980 43.7 7,198,050 15.6
Thompson-Nicola 2,278,810 21.5 820,880 21.5
Kootenay 3,085,680 49.8 1,258,460 33.2
Cariboo 1,479,800 44.5 441,850 27.3
Skeena 1,702,500 37.6 702,920 29.4
Omineca-Peace 2,881,320 38.1 724,980 22.1
Okanagan 4,881,370 37.3 1,624,010 23.6
British Columbia 73,974,430 17,828,700

Source: Reid 1998, update to 2001 by Economic Planning Group 2003.

On Vancouver Island whale watching occurs in three primary areas: Haro Strait, Johnstone and Queen Charlotte Straits, and the West Coast near Ucluelet and Tofino. Haro Strait and the Gulf Islands are among the best and most accessible places in the world to watch killer whales. The resident killer whale pods are most often viewed between May and September when they feed on migrating salmon. A transient killer whale population can be viewed year round and is commonly found all along the West Coast of Vancouver Island. West Coast whale watching activity also benefits from the northward migration of grey whales from early March to late April. (DFO, 2003)

Race Rocks and Race Passage are not prime whale watching areas but can see occasional use when whale sightings are in shortage in the prime areas. Only some companies will use the study area, however, as alternatives such as the San Juan Islands offer better secondary opportunities for viewing. The best times to view whales at Race Rocks is in late summer and early fall, but some companies will often avoid viewing killer whales when they are actively feeding due to the lack of maneuverability in the water (Hall, pers. comm.). The main attractions at Race Rocks are historical (i.e. the lighthouse) and ecological, including the opportunity to see other marine mammals and birds. (Roberts. 2009. pers. comm.)

A total of 164 charter and cruise operators offer wildlife viewing as part of their product; 120 of these primarily focus on whale watching. There are about 60 tourism operators that depend solely on whale watching. Victoria has the largest density of whale watching operators (about 45) with a fleet of about 80 vessels. The number of operators has been growing over the long term, but may have stabilized in recent years.

In 1991, the number of commercially-guided whale watchers in Canada was estimated at 185,200, with spending of $9 million. In 1998, the number of people who took a whale watching excursion in Canada surpassed one million, placing direct revenues at about $50 million. On the Canadian Pacific Coast in 1998, the 285,000 whale watchers generated direct revenues of approximately $14 million and total revenues of approximately $108 million.  (DFO, 2003) Using the whale watching visitor estimates presented earlier, we believe the market for whale watching in the Capital region is approximately 250,000 generating annual revenues of approximately $12 million.

      1. Future Situation

Wildlife viewing, and specifically whale watching, will likely grow over the long-term as demand remains high for this relatively safe and passive activity. However, since this is primarily a tourism activity in the study area, it will also be susceptible to general tourism trends, including fluctuating visitation from the critical US market due to fuel prices, exchange rates and border issues. Unless there was a significant change either in the quality and abundance of the wildlife and ecological resource at Race Rocks or the regulatory environment, then viewing in and around Race Rocks is expected to increase in the future.

    1. Kayaking
      1. Current and Historical Situation

Sea kayaking is undertaken by self-guided individual users or by clients of guiding companies, usually as part of an organized tour or group. As with other forms of ocean recreation, users can be residents or they can be tourists. The kayaking experiences range from hours or a whole day for general paddling in one place, to multi-week excursions covering large stretches of coastline for the more serious adventurers.

Participation rates in sea kayaking have been increasing steadily over the last two decades. In 1991, less than three percent of BC residents participated in kayaking, whereas by 1995 this had increased to seven percent (DFO, 2003).

Accurate estimates of kayaking use in the province is not well documented, but past studies provide some understanding of the sport’s popularity among residents and visitors. In 1996, there were approximately 30,000 kayakers who took overnight trips to BC, totalling 150,000 kayak user days. Independent kayakers totalled 23,000 and kayaked 115,000 user days, while guided kayakers totalled 6,800 and 35,000 user days. (Economic Planning Group, 1997)

More recent research has shown that people who take a trip in order to engage in sea kayaking are only a fraction of tourists who go kayaking on their vacations. Of the 20.9 million Canadian Travellers, 4% (783,552) went sea kayaking while on an out-of-town, overnight trip of one or more nights.

Kayaking was the main trip purpose of 1.4% of Canadian visitors to BC during 2004 and 2005, for a total visitor market of 84,351. (Tourism BC March 2009) US visitors were less likely to participate in kayaking, 1.8% in 2005. The same participation rates applied to the total visitor market to the Capital region would imply a primary kayak trip purpose market of 5,000 and overall kayak participant market of about 15,000 in 2007.

The resident market for kayaking is more difficult to ascertain due to the lack of any recent study. Estimates have ranged anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 paddlers on the coast, but these often intermix visitors as well as residents. The participation rate in the late 1990s for all BC residents was close to 7%. (Economic Planning Group 2003) In the US, sea kayak participation was 5.6% in 2005. (Outdoor Industry Foundation 2006) Recognizing the likelihood of above-average participation by coastal residents due to the proximity of opportunity, the resident market for kayaking in the Capital region is estimated to be 25,000 paddlers in 2007.

The number of days spent kayaking can range from hours in a day to multiple weeks. Applying averages noted in other studies would imply the total number of kayak user days in the Capital region of less than 100,000 in 2007.

Even though kayaking is very popular on the south coast, the study area itself is not a destination. Generally speaking, the strong tidal currents characteristic of Race Passage are not amenable to kayaking. The neighbouring Gulf Islands is generally recognized as a prime destination because of the protected chain of islands that offer kayakers lots of sheltered paddling opportunities. Other popular areas include Johnstone Strait, Broken Islands, Clayoquot Sound, Nootka Sound, Broughton Archipelago and Kyuquot Sound. The marine protected areas are considered prime kayaking areas. These include Beaumont, Cabbage Island, D’Arcy Island, Discovery Island, Isle-de-lis, Montague Harbour, Newcastle Island, Pirates Cove, Princess Margaret, Wallace Island, Whaleboat Marine and Winter Cove.  Westcoast Paddler does not feature Race Rocks as a preferred location—the nearest recommended paddling location is Discovery Island, but even then kayakers are warned of the currents in the area and the possibility of stranding. (

The popularity of sea kayaking, and the fact that the majority of participants rent their equipment, is reflected in increased manufacturing shipments, retail outlets, commercial operations and training schools providing kayaking related services. In 1989, there were about 15 sea kayaking providers on the Canadian Pacific Coast. In 2000, this number had risen to 250. Mothership operations are also a growing commercial sub-sector.

      1. Future Situation

Ocean kayaking has a low participation rate because it requires skill and training and carries an element of personal safety risk that many outdoor recreation participants are unwilling to bear. Even so, participation rates in BC are high, and the BC coast is recognized world-wide as an exceptional destination experience. Population growth is expected to increase use, even if participation rates remain stable of drop off. However, kayak use, as noted above, is not a primary activity at Race Rocks and this is unlikely to change in the future.

    1. Diving
      1. Current and Historical Situation

Diving refers to SCUBA diving using compressed air tanks and snorkelling, but the latter is not common in the relatively cold waters of the BC coast. Diving can be undertaken by residents on a self-guided basis or by commercial operators either for complete dive packages or for specific services such as transport. SCUBA divers must be certified to have their tanks filled. Membership in the three certifying organizations, Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), Scuba Schools International (SSI) and the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), vary from year to year and generally experience high dropout rates.

Independent divers either purchase or rent equipment and transportation, whereas guided divers are usually outfitted and transported by a tour operator. The diving experience for both user groups ranges from half a day to multiple days in duration.  The majority of enthusiasts dive from shore, thus avoiding costly boat dives. Some kayak manufacturers have developed wide, sturdier models to accommodate diving in open water.

Diving in BC is a popular recreation activity because of the abundant sea life and good visibility during the late fall through early spring. The water is not much colder than the waters of northern California, permitting diving year round. Winter diving is popular, and offers better visibility. The coastline is diverse, creating many different habitats and environments for marine life. Wreck diving at sites created by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia (ARSBC) is popular with many scuba divers. Rodale’s Scuba Diving magazine ranked BC’s coastal waters as the top diving destination in the world in 2005 for wall diving, small animals and healthiest marine mammals.

Estimates of participation in SCUBA diving vary. Participation rates grew rapidly in the 1990s due to the increasing availability of diving courses, dive shops and charter outfits, but it is also true that drop-out rates of certified divers tends to be high. About 24,400 divers were estimated to have used the services of British Columbia dive charter operators in 2003. A study by the Underwater Council of British Columbia (UCBC) estimated that there are about 70,000 recreational diver use days per year undertaken in British Columbia. (DFO, SCUBA Diving. 2003) Both of these estimates would include resident and visiting divers. A 2004 study of the industry found that two thirds of dive operator revenues came from residents, while 35% were from the rest of Canada (14%), the US (16%) and the remainder overseas. (Ivanova, 2004) Tourism BC has found that the diving participation rate of Canadian visitors to BC was 1.6% in 2004 and 2005. (Tourism BC December, 2008)  In consideration of the above supply and demand side indicators, we believe the number of active divers in the Capital region is between 10,000 and 12,000, accounting for annual diver days of between 28,000 and 34,000.

The Nanaimo area, Gabriola Island, the Gulf Islands, Saanich Peninsula and Victoria are all popular diving areas. Race Rocks is one of the most challenging in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with currents that often exceed five or six knots. The area is not considered suitable for inexperienced or newly certified divers. The window for diving is limited to the slack tides that occur every 6 1/2 hours. The rich marine life and debris from over 100 ships that have been wrecked at Race Rocks are attractants. TheVancouver Island South Diver’s Guide cites Race Rocks as one of its five feature diver sites for the Metchosin area. ( Spring and Fall are the best diving times at Race Rocks, with good visibility fairly certain, but the warmer water temperature months of July to September also serve to attract divers. Diving is done from boat, but anchoring is not allowed in the ecological reserve.

In 2003, the dive industry in BC consisted of 116 operators, generating approximately $15 million in gross revenues. The tourism portion of this revenue was believed to be between $3.1 million and $5.5 million. Average revenues earned directly from SCUBA diving was $130,000 per operator, while gross revenues earned in the recreational diving market were estimated at $327,500 per operator. (Ivanova, 2004) Dive BC lists three diving shops and another 12 charter operators in the Capital region. (

The only company conducting regular dives at Race Rocks is Ogden Point Dive Centre out of Victoria. They will go to Race Rocks weekly for the entire year, with approximately six to eight clients per trip. Some of these clients are local residents, but the majority would be visiting divers. Total annual demand is about 400 days of diving. This demand is a slight drop from 10 years ago when three dive companies and about 500 days of diving was estimated, but activity has been holding steady over the last five years. (Wallace, pers. comm.) This demand represents approximately $40,000 in direct spending on dive services and another $250,000 indirectly for travel-related purchases.

      1. Future Situation

Diving is a high risk activity with low participation rates. The last five years of activity at Race Rocks has declined somewhat and fewer companies now operate there, despite the exceptional experience. Given its position as a dive site for experienced divers only, we would expect future diving use to remain stable.

    1. Cruise Ships
      1. Current and Historical Situation

The cruise ship industry in the Victoria area has increased substantially in the last decade. In 2009, five major cruise lines (Holland, Princess, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines) will conduct 215 sailings between April 23 and October 14, bringing more than 300,000 passengers through study area waters via Ogden Point. The majority of these ships are bound for Seattle from Alaska, although a variety of west coast trip itineraries are represented. The surge in activity is due to Seattle’s emergence as a competitor for Vancouver-based ships serving the Alaska market. US regulations pertaining to the Jones Act will require all cruise ships departing from the United States to stop at a foreign port, with the majority of cruise ships docking at Victoria’s Ogden point in passage from Seattle to Alaska. The pocket cruise sector (representing ships carrying between 80 and 235 passengers) is also active during the same period. Figure 5-3 shows cruise ship traffic density for the summer of 2003, when the cruise industry in Victoria was smaller than it is today.

Figure 5-3 Cruise Ship Traffic Density, 2003

Source: Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The data show that traffic density around Race Rocks is low (1-100 observations during the field season) but that density increased to the west and more notably to the east along the Victoria to Port Angeles axis. Winter cruise activity is negligible.

      1. Future Situation

Given the ageing baby boom generation and their preference for soft experiences such as cruising, the demand for large cruise ships is expected to increase in the North American market. However, activity in the Alaska cruise industry has changed dramatically over the last decade due to competition between US and Canadian points of departure and changing itineraries. The total number of sailings and passengers may not change, but their routes along the coast may. Still, the study area is on the fringe of existing routes and would not be expected to see increasing use.

  1. Research and Education Activity
    1. Research and Education 

6.1.1 Current and Historical Situation

        1. Race Rocks Administration

All activities at Race Rocks are subject to review and approval by the Race Rocks Operating Committee. The Operating Committee consists of BC Parks and Pearson College.  Research or commercial activity in the ecological reserve also requires a permit for Research and Commercial Use. For most activities, users will also have to submit a permit to BC Parks.

Students and staff from Pearson College (including the resident Island Guardians) are available at most times to assist in projects. All research, print material, film, video and other results from activities at Race Rocks must be made available as public information for education and research. Pearson College will receive and maintain all information and materials for use on the Race Rocks web-site or at the Pearson College library.

The building that formerly housed the assistant light keeper has been converted into the Ecoscience Centre residence. It has a kitchen, room to sleep six, and basic furniture. There is also a basement area that is used for drying wet suits and has been fitted with a composting toilet. Fresh water is limited on Race Rocks and is generated by an electric desalinator whereby sea water has to be pumped to a reservoir and then fresh water produced at a limited rate (

        1. Research

The location of Race Rocks has allowed it to be used for a variety of research purposes over a long period of time. Some of the historical research includes (AXYS, 1999):

  • Oceanographic data for temperature and salinity gathered since 1923 and 1934 respectively.
  • Surface water temperature and salinity data gathered at Race Rocks between 1948 and 1957 (Stevenson and Stevenson 1961 and Seabrocky, 1975).
  • Inter-tidal and sub-tidal flora and fauna study for the proposed national marine park in Juan de Fuca Strait (Dobrocky, 1975).
  • The Institute of Ocean Sciences (IOS), have had a number of IOS research vessels in the Race Rocks area between 1951 and 1982

Since 1974, Pearson College has been the principal research agency at Race Rocks and has worked cooperatively with a variety of researchers to gather and document scientific information. Some of the more recent research projects have included (website

  • A study of effects of human-caused disturbances on marine birds and pinnipeds at Race Rocks (Demarchi, MW and MD Bentley, 2004).
  • A master’s thesis on the public process and the Creation of a Marine Protected Area at Race Rocks (LeRoy, S., 2002).
  • Race Rocks Digital Herbarium (Murphy, 2002) and The epiphytic community of Pterygophora calinfornica: Race Rocks MPA. (Murphy, 2002).
  • 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).

With the establishment of the website in 1999, researchers have been able to use Race Rocks to conduct research remotely. 

        1. Education and Outreach

Pearson College is an educational institution with students from 85 countries. The College manages the Race Rocks ecological reserve under an agreement with BC and focuses on community outreach programming.  Students involved in science and activities programs get the opportunity to participate in the building and operating of a website devoted to providing an educational resource of the unique marine environment at Race Rocks.  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;
  • 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.

However, despite the recent advances with the internet, actual site visits by students continues to remain an important educational experience.  Since the mid-1980s, students from Pearson College have been escorting elementary school children from the local school district to the reserve for ecology visits.   In addition, the instructors from Pearson College have provided tours and interpretative sessions to students from other post-secondary institutions (AXYS, 1999).

Students from other universities, including Royal Roads and University of Victoria, also access Race Rocks as part of their own educational programming.  As well, students at Pearson College have conducted a variety of research at the Race Rocks facilities as part of their course work over the years. Several of the research essays are on file with BC Parks.

  6.1.2 Future Situation

In 1999 the changes in wireless technology and the connection to the worldwide web greatly expanded the access to Race Rocks for research and educational purposes. While the number of researchers and/or students that can be accommodated on Race Rocks is limited, the internet has opened up several opportunities that did not exist even a few short years ago.

Moving forward Pearson College will make every effort to continue to find innovative educational and research opportunities. The College is currently raising funds to ensure that the $150,000 needed annually to operate Race Rocks is secured on a longer term basis. Funding raising efforts are making progress but that it may be beyond 2010 before it is confirmed if sustainable funding will be in place (Blondeau. 2009. pers comm.). Building on this the College will continue to expand its network of partnerships and envisions to continue to provide a unique marine training and research experience.   

    1. Alternative Energy Projects

6.2.1 Current and Historical Situation

Although Race Rocks is located in close proximity to the urban population of the CRD, the area must be self reliant for all services. Given this, Pearson College has turned to several innovative projects that have resulted in leading edge and sustainable technology being deployed in the proposed marine protected area.

One of the earliest technology projects at Race Rocks was the salt water desalinator, which in the 1970s saw the conversion of a concrete bomb-shelter into a desalinator room.  The desalinator is capable of processing 0.25 gallons of salt water per minute on 220 V. Today, the desalinator provides the two houses and the energy building at Race Rocks with cleaning, cooking and drinking water.

There are two energy projects associated with Race Rocks, including the solar panel project and the tidal energy project. By 1997 it was becoming increasingly difficult to feasibly run the diesel generators required to supply electricity on the island ( To begin to address this issue, the Canadian Coast Guard installed eight solar panels and a battery array that was used to power the lighthouse light and foghorn. This made these two components energy self-sufficient by the end of 1997.

The remaining power needs, including electricity to the guardians house and for water desalination, continued to be done by the diesel generator.  Using the diesel generator was not only costly but brought with it the environmental hazard of transporting diesel fuel to the island several times a year (The Ring, 2002). After undertaking research and building a strong partnership, it was announced in 2005 that Pearson College, Encana, and Clean Current Tidal Power Systems would install Canada’s first free-stream tidal power Project on Race Rocks (Pearson College. News Release. 2005). With a $3 million investment from the EnCana Environmental Innovation Fund, a multi-year demonstration project has been established that has resulted in the installation of a tidal turbine generator that can generate 65kW free-stream.  This generator that is located in the waters near Race Rocks began operation in 2006.

Shortly after, the BC Ministry of Mines and Energy provided a grant that allowed for further installation of solar panels on Race Rocks. This resulted in a 38 panel array being put in place in early 2007 and tied into the power grid.

  6.2.1 Future Situation

Pearson College will continue to explore and capitalize on partnerships and opportunities that will further enhance the technology used at Race Rocks. The positive experience with recent technology projects has further expanded the Race Rocks value as a research and educational centre and will continue to be pursued in the future. 

  1. Historical  and Cultural Values
    1. Historical Value

In 1991, Race Rocks Lighthouse became a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values. Race Rocks Lighthouse is associated with the provisions of navigational aids on the Pacific Coast in response to the increased maritime traffic arising from the Fraser River Gold Rush of the 1850s.

Figure 7-1: Race Rocks Lighthouse, circa 1990

Source: Canada’s Historical Lighthouse


Also protected under the BC Heritage Conservation Act are artifacts from some of the shipwrecks in the Race Rocks area. Although most have been salvaged and removed, remnants of at least two shipwrecks, the Idaho and Nanette, remain as legacies to the province’s early maritime history (AXYS, 1999).

    1. Cultural Values

Race Rocks has cultural and historical values that are important to area First Nations. The configurations of the rocks in several stone mounds at Race Rocks are suggestive of First Nation use of the area for burials from around AD 500 (Race Rock website). As mentioned earlier, a separate First Nations report is being prepared as part of the process to establish a marine protected area. 

  1. Summary

  Table 8-1 Summary by Activity

Activity Historical and Current Future Consideration
Socio-Economic Steady growth in the CRD Continued growth and economic diversification anticipated.
Commercial Shipping Variety of commercial vessels in busy shipping lanes Anticipated to see traffic grow.
Coast Guard Active area for Coast Guard with busy shipping lanes. Anticipated to continue to be a busy area.
Canadian Military Area around Race Rocks is important to DND. Envisioned to remain an active training and demolition area for DND.
Recreation and Tourism Race Rocks is an important destination for diving and frequently used for wildlife viewing. It is only an incidental location or pathway for boating, kayaking, fishing, and cruise ships. Diving likely to remain stable, but all other activities will increase due to population-related demand, although this will affect overall study area pressure but not necessarily use at Race Rocks.
Research and Education Long time use by Pearson College Anticipated use for education and research by Pearson College.
Energy Projects Experimental work to support Race Rocks sustainability. Further systems to be considered in the future.
Historical Values Area home to numerous shipwrecks and a light house that is now Canadian heritage building. Historical status anticipated to continue, particularly if Lighthouse is maintained.


Appendix A – Stakeholder Contacts

Commercial Fishing

  • Laurie Biagini, Manager Data Unit, Corporate Services – Pacific Region, Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Tel: (604) 666-7749 Telephone conversation March 16, 2009.
  • John Davidson, Regional Data, Corporate Services – Pacific Region, Fisheries and Oceans Canada: Tel: (604) 666-4654. Telephone conversations starting March 24, 2009.


Department of National Defence

  • Mike Water, Environment Officer, Department of National Defense, Tel (250) 363-2177. Telephone conversation March 24, 2009.

Department of Ocean and Fisheries

  • Kevin Conley, Oceans Biologist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Telephone: (250) 754-0359. Telephone and email communications on various dates starting April 2, 2009.
  • Glen Rasmussen, A/ICZM Coordinator, South Coast, Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Telephone (250) 754-0358. Telephone and email communication on various dates.
  • Kelly Francis, Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In-person interview on March 3, 2009 and follow up emails.

Marine Traffic

  • Sean Nelson, Canadian Coast Guard, Data Conversion, Tel: (250) 363-5223. Telephone conversation March 19, 2009.
  • Jeff Nemrava, Regional Supervisor Marine Search and Rescue, Canadian Coast Guard,

      Tel: (250) 363-2987. Telephone conversation March 19, 2009.

Tourism and Recreation

  • Biffard, Doug. Protected Areas Ecologist, Ministry of Environment, Victoria. 250 387-4598. Telephone conversation. February 9 and April 22, 2009.
  • Hall, Anna. Prince of Whales Whale Watching, Victoria. 250 727-5709. Telephone conversation. April 27, 2009.
  • Roberts, David. Prince of Whales Whale Watching, Victoria. 250 748-3800. Telephone conversation. April 27, 2009.
  • Wallace, Dustin. Ogden Point Dive Centre, Victoria. 1-888-701-1177. Telephone conversation. April 27, 2009.

Lester Pearson College

  • Blondeau, Chris. Director of Operations. Telephone 391-2411. Telephone conversation February 25 and May 27, 2009.
  • Fletcher, Garry. Retired Biologist. Email communication April 23, 2009 at email

Appendix B – References

AXYS Envrionmental Consulting Ltd. December 1999. A Socio-Economic Overview of Race Rocks: A Pilot Marine Protected Area Off the West Coast of Canada.

Province of British Columbia and Government of Canada. September 14, 2000. News Release – Race Rocks as Canada’s First Marine Protected Area. NR-PR-00-120E

BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. Environmental Stewardship Division. 2002. Management Plan for Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.

BC Stats. March 2009.  British Columbia Local Area Economic Dependencies. 

BC Stats. P.E.O.P.L.E 33. Access on February 15, 2009 at website:

BC Stats. April 2007. British Columbia’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector. Prepared for BC Ministry of  Environment.

Canadian Coast Guard – CCG Pacific, MCTS Victoria. Website accessed on March 25, 2009 at:

Demarchi, MW and Bentley, MD. 2004. Effects of Natural and Human-Caused Disturbances on Marine Birds and Pinnipeds  at Race Rocks, British Colubmia.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Georgia Strait Creel Survey, Annual Summaries of Catch and Effort.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans. 2003. Marine Tourism Activities in Pacific Canada Series. Kayaking, Whale Watching, Scuba Diving, Tidal Recreational Fishing, Recreational Boating. 

District of Metchosin. April 1994. Proposed Park and Protected Area. Accessed on March 25, 2009 at website: http://www.district.metchosin.bc.a

Economic Planning Group, Juan de Fuca Environmental Consultants, Darlene Anderson. December 2003. Economic Impact Analysis of Outdoor Recreation on British Columbia’s Central Coast, North Coast and Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii. Outdoor Recreation Council of BC.

Economic Planning Group. September 1997. Overview Analysis of the British Columbia Ocean Kayaking Sector. Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture.

Genesis Public Opinion Research Inc. and Smith Gunther Associates. September 2007. Economic Impact of the Canadian Recreational Boating Industry: 2006. Discover Boating.

G S Gislason & Associates Ltd., Ellen F. Battle Consulting Inc., Edna Lam Consulting and Pierce Lefebvre Consulting. April 2007. Economic Contribution of the Oceans Sector in British Columbia. Canada/British Columbia Oceans Coordinating Committee.

Goss Gilroy Inc. August 18, 2003. Economic Impact Analysis of Recreational Boating in Canada: 2001.Discover Boating.

GS Gislason & Associates Ltd. February 2004. British Columbia Seafood Sector and Tidal Water Recreational Fishing: A Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Assessment. Prepared for BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.

Ivanova, Iglika. July 2004. Recreational SCUBA Diving in BC Survey Report. Dive Industry Association of BC.

Lang Research Inc.  October 16, 2007. Canadian Travel Market Wildlife Viewing While on Trips Of One or More Nights A Profile Report. Travel Activities and Motivations Survey.

Lang Research Inc.  May 18, 2007. US Travel Market Ocean Activities While on Trips Of One or More Nights A Profile Report. Travel Activities and Motivations Survey.

Lang Research Inc.  April 25, 2007. US Travel Market Wildlife Viewing While on Trips Of One or More Nights A Profile Report. Travel Activities and Motivations Survey.

Martin, Sydney. May 2007. Outdoor Recreation Trends A Literature Review. BC Parks.

Outdoor Industry Foundation. June 2006. Outdoor Recreation Participation Study Eighth Edition, For Year 2005 Trend Analysis for the United States.

Pearson College. February 25, 2005. The Pearson College-EnCana-Clean Current Tidal Power Demonstration Project at Race Rocks.

Pearson College.  The Race Rocks Marine Research Centre. Accessed on March 27, 2009 at website:

Pendleton, Linwood H. March 1, 2006. Understanding the Potential Economic Impact of Marine Wildlife Viewing and Whale Watching in California: Executive Summary. Environmental Science and Engineering Program University of California, Los Angeles.

Port Metro Vancouver. 2008.  Statistical Overview 2008.  Accessed April 1, 2009 at website:

Port of Seattle. 2008. Number of Vessel Calls at Port of Seattle Facilities.  Accessed April 1, 2009 at website: accessed March 24, 2009 at website: Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.

Roger Reid. 1998. Economic Value of Wildlife Activities in British Columbia, 1996. Wildlife Branch, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.

Statistics Canada and BC Stats. Community Facts. 2006 Census.

Statistics Canada and BC Stats. February 6, 2009. British Columbia Unemployment Rates – January 2009.

The Ring. February 21, 2002. Going with the Flow – A UVIC study explores renewable energy options at Canada’s newest Marine Protected Area. Written by Diane Haughland.

Tourism BC. 2004. British Columbia’s Tourism Strategic Framework 2005-2015.

Tourism BC. 1998. The Report on Visitors to Vancouver Island Tourism Region.

Tourism BC, Research and Planning. January 2009. Travel Activities and Motivations of Canadian Residents: Activity Profile Ocean Activities While on Trips.

Tourism BC, Research and Planning. December 2008. Travel Activities and Motivations of Canadian Residents: Activity Profile Focus on Divers and Snorkellers.

Tourism BC, Research and Planning. March 2009. Travel Activities and Motivations of Canadian Residents: Activity Profile Focus on Sea Kayakers.

Tourism BC, Research Services. December 2007. British Columbia’s Sea Kayaking Sector (2005). Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC and Wilderness Tourism Association

United States Coast Guard.  2009.  Canada / U.S. Cooperative Vessel Traffic Service.  Accessed April 1, 2009 at website:

Appendix C – Shipping Methodology

Shipping Information

Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) of the Canadian Coast Guard, monitors ship traffic using radio contact, radar detection, and, in a increasing number of cases, satellite tracking.  Ship information such as ship identification, type, size, flag state, last port state, and next port state is documented along with position, direction and speed every 4 minutes approximately.  Ship location and movement (direction and speed) were estimated and documented using the following methods as identified by MCTS in their databases:

  • MAN = Manually plotted vessel route (by ship-operator)
  • MDR = Manual Dead Reckon, operator graphically draws waypoint route for track to follow.
  • FDR = Fixed Dead Reckon, vessel automatically assigned to fixed route based on call to MCTS operator
  • ODR = Offshore Dead Reckon, based on 96/24 hour advance reports submitted by vessels prior to entering Canadian territorial waters.
  • RDR = Radar tracked vessel, vessel track linked to radar sensor.
  • AIS = Universal Automatic Identification system, vessel track linked to GPS position data via AIS services.

We have been given access to this database with data extending from the beginning of March 2002 to the end of December 2003, by Grant McGowan (MCTS).  We have decided to use data from calendar year 2003 as representative of ship movement patterns off the BC coast for all years considered in this study.  McGowan (pers. comm.) has assured us that shipping patterns remain relatively constant among years.  We included data based on RDR and ODR (and AIS for 2006 and 2007) only as these methods prove to be the most consistent (in terms of producing ship positions that are repeatable and make sense – i.e., do not tend to cut straight through Vancouver Island for e.g.).  Because of the size of this database, we had to reduce observations to one uniquely identifiable ship observation per 5*5 km cell in a GIS grid that we created (see below).  We also categorized ship traffic into six classes as follows (using MCTS codes to identify the ship type) for each:

Column headings in shapefile MCTS Identified Vessel Types
 ‘ferr’ ‘Ferry’ and registered in Canada

To show shipping intensity for this report, we summarized ship traffic per 5*5km grid cell for every hour and removed ships that did not move from one grid cell to another (i.e., only identifiable ships that changed cells were included in the summation below).  Ships were uniquely identifiable as the MCTS data included both ship name and Lloyd’s registry number, allowing us to reduce the data to one ship observation per 5*5km grid cell per hour (for all hours regardless of season).  For each 5*5km grid cell, we summarized the data by calculating total number, by ship category (as described above), and by season (Summer: 1 May – 30 Sept.; Winter 1 Oct – 30 Apr), of uniquely identifiable ship observations per hour that either moved into or out of the focal cell.

Detailed Methods:

Ship observations were assigned 5*5 km grid cell labels by spatially joining grid cells with each observation (ArcGIS v9.x).  Using data-step functions (for e.g., ‘proc sort’, ‘first.obs’, and ‘lag[]’) in SAS, we reduced the data set to one uniquely identifiable ship observation, per cell per hour, and removed all lines were ship movement between cells was not indicated.  We categorized shipping into the above described categories and seasons (using BOOLEAN data step-functions in SAS), and with ‘Proc Tabulate” (SAS) we totalled the number of observations per cells, by ship category and season.


SAS (1999). SAS Systems for Windows. Cary, N.C., SAS Institute Inc.

ESRI (2002). ArcMAP. Redlands, CA, ESRI.