First Nations-led Freshwater Salmon Habitat Assessment and Restoration Planning in the Central Coast

Project Details

Central Coast of British Columbia, Canada
Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA)
2021 – Present
Team Member(s):
Aaron Tamminga, Hugh Stimson, Natascia Tamburello, Ibrahim Alameddine, Bea Rost-Komiya, Alex Tekatch, Graham Mushet, Shreya Nemani

Associates: Matthew Bayly, Frank Poulson, Julian Heavyside

Service Area(s):
Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences, Cumulative Effects Assessment, Climate Change Adaptation
Services Employed:
Ecological Modelling, Ecosystem Restoration Planning, Decision-Support Systems, Facilitation & Engagement, Capacity Training & Development, Monitoring Design & Evaluation

The Problem We Aimed to Solve

First Nations on the British Columbia Central Coast have witnessed the depletion of resources on the land and ocean over the past 100 years, fueled by a sector-by-sector approach to resource management. To ensure that First Nations’ interests and traditional knowledge are balanced with western science to support locally informed stewardship for generations, the Heiltsuk, Kitasoo Xai’xais, Nuxalk, and Wuikinuxv Nations formed the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA) in 2010. Some of CCIRA’s priorities include facilitating co-governance and shared decision-making, taking immediate action to restore and maintain the health of fish stocks, and improving monitoring and management efforts.

How We Helped

ESSA’s role with CCIRA focusses on supporting efforts under the BC Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (SRIF) and the Indigenous Habitat Participation Program (IHPP) to advance Nation-led salmon stewardship, with a focus on the freshwater environment. With an over-arching goal of rejuvenating and strengthening communities’ connections to salmon social-ecological systems, ESSA is working with CCIRA and the Nations to establish near- and long-term restoration and monitoring priorities, tailored to each Nation’s local context and values. This work involves:

  • Facilitation and engagement with Nation technical staff,
  • Identification and prioritization of potential aquatic restoration activities that can be implemented by Nation members,
  • Development and implementation of locally informed monitoring protocols,
  • Technical support and modelling approaches for assessment of watershed cumulative effects and climate-hydrological risks to salmon,
  • Training and support for monitoring protocols, data management systems, and restoration best practices,
  • Development of tools to predict short-term risks to salmon populations and support emergency enhancement measures,
  • Regulatory support for restoration activity implementation,
  • Production of science communication materials to convey project concepts and outcomes to non-technical audiences, and,
  • Development of a web-based decision-support system to synthesize spatial watershed data and prioritize areas for restoration or monitoring.

Our Project’s Impacts

Through a collaborative process of engagement, listening, and bi-directional learning with the CCIRA Nations, this project contributes to the overall CCIRA goal of developing and strengthening Nation-led stewardship of freshwater habitats. ESSA provides technical expertise on the ecological processes governing the health of aquatic systems, develops systems and guidance to incorporate best practices into restoration and monitoring planning, and supports community members in re-connecting with and managing local salmon streams to ensure they continue to provide access to fish for food, social, and ceremonial purposes for future generations.