The inland sea that makes up the marine component of the Georgia Basin is home to a rich and varied array of marine plants, invertebrates, birds and marine mammals. Pressures from historical overfishing, poaching, pollution, degradation of water quality, loss of habitat, depletion of food resources and global climate change have and are negatively impacting populations of many species in the region. This report represents the first step in the process of evaluating the health of marine plants and animals in the Georgia Basin in order to make further recommendations for protecting marine life in the region. It summarizes information on the distribution, abundance, status, protection measures and concerns for a number of representative species (commercially important and otherwise), chosen on the basis of their perceived ecological significance. Several common themes emerged during the process of compiling this report: (1) Most non-commercial species have poor or no quantitative distribution and abundance inventory for the Georgia Basin and therefore the health of populations are impossible to assess; (2) Data is limited for a number of commercial species and it is possible that current fisheries are negatively impacting populations; (3) All species at or near the top of the food chain are at risk of concentrating potentially harmful levels of toxic chemicals; (4) Certain habitats are critical for a wide variety of species; and (5) With the exception of recently established rockfish protection areas, two pilot marine protected areas, ecological reserves with a marine component and some marine parks with jurisdiction over their intertidal and subtidal areas, little marine habitat is currently under full legal protection.
Eriksson, Ann, MacConnachie, Sean; Wilson, Christy. 2002. Overview of Current Knowledge for Selected Marine Species in the Georgia Basin. BC Ministry of Environment