In 2003, the first of two consecutive 5-year collaborative agreements between the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Institute of Ocean Sciences), Natural Resources Canada (Pacific Geoscience Centre) and Greater Vancouver Regional District (now Metro Vancouver) facilitated a Strait of Georgia collaborative research program. The research program was designed to provide fundamental, basin-wide understanding of particulates, organics and contaminant cycling and budgets throughout the Strait of Georgia, particularly in aid of understanding the broader context of inputs from municipal wastewater discharges. One of the ultimate goals of the research program was to provide a baseline for the development of long-term ambient monitoring for the Strait of Georgia, in order to place environmental effects from outfalls and other anthropogenic stressors into context with oceanic shifts (climate) and provide data for predicting critical or tipping points for localized effects.  A list of publications from this 10-year project is attached (AMPreferences).

The Strait of Georgia Ambient Monitoring Program highlighted the need to consider ‘external’ forces in the wider Salish Sea.  In addition, multiple agencies in Canada and the USA have expressed an interest in developing a more integrative, trans-boundary approach to research, monitoring and management related to the Salish Sea.  The proposed Salish Sea Ambient Monitoring exchange (SSAMEx) is a natural next step.

At present, there are a number of networked monitoring organizations in the US (e.g. Puget Sound Partnership, NANOOS) which steer and coordinate monitoring initiatives.  However, similar cooperative monitoring efforts have been lacking in Canada, particularly those which incorporate trans-boundary collaboration across the Salish Sea.

Declining budgets, restricted outsourcing of activities and constrained geographical or technical approaches to monitoring the Salish Sea present a challenge for monitoring agencies with specific agendas. In order to better enable a Salish Sea approach to ecosystem-based monitoring and management, data collections from both sides of the border need to be expanded, modified, and/or integrated to answer key questions of interest to the participants.  Through more dialogue and exchange among participants, key benefits will be the avoidance of duplication of existing programs and networks, and the incorporation of data from existing monitoring efforts on both sides of the border into a more focused system-wide initiative.

Original publications from Strait of Georgia Ambient Monitoring Program can be obtained from Dr. Brenda Burd (