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HomeWorldTech company First Nation collaborates to prepare for impacts of climate change...

Tech company First Nation collaborates to prepare for impacts of climate change on water harvestingFGN News

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Our planet is changing. So is our press. This story is part of Our changing planetwhich is a CBC News initiative to show and explain the effects of climate change and what is being done about it.


A First Nation is working alongside technology company BC to learn more about how climate change is affecting the water from which food is harvested.

In an effort to maintain and even boost the ability to harvest seafood, T’Sou-ke First Nation on southern Vancouver Island turned to Victoria-based MarineLabs, which collects real-time data about the ocean, about 18 months ago to better understand what It occurs in the Sok Basin and other areas it uses.

A number of issues have emerged in the Sooke Basin – a protected bay located about 20 kilometers west of Victoria – that could affect how T’Sou-ke Nation uses the water.

Climate change has wreaked havoc in the region: rising temperatures in both the air and the sea have wiped out marine life, including important traditional food sources for the nation; As severe storms are becoming more common, something the nation’s leaders want society to be better prepared for.

In addition, abandoned ships, mining waste and ship traffic have polluted the waters and affected the oyster harvest in recent decades, while a 2019 report from the British Columbia Department of Environment recommended regular monitoring of the aquarium water due to the rapid development in the region.

An ocean shoreline with a pier and floating ships.
Part of the traditional T’Sou-ke First Nation lands, on the south coast of Vancouver Island. (Rohit Joseph/CBC)

MarineLabs is now hoping to capture area data using smart buoys that contain sensors to detect wind speed, wave size, number of passing boats or ships, water temperature and salinity.

“Science is key,” said Gordon Blanes, president of T’Sou-ke Nation. “Knowing the history of what has been happening in the past few years will be able to really tell us where we are. It will lay a foundation for the future.”

The planes, who also goes to Hiacucha, said he hopes the floats will help reveal the increase in shipping, reveal existing environmental concerns and help determine what his first nation can do to tackle and adapt to climate change.

Yellow buoy with Marine Labs text on it, in the ocean.
A smart buoy from MarineLabs, which collects a range of data from wind speed and wave size to boat activity in the surrounding waters. (Rohit Joseph/CBC)

For example, increased extreme heat events can alter the chemistry of the water, which in turn affects the marine ecosystem and the creatures historically harvested by T’Sou-ke for food.

“It can have a negative impact on who we are and the way we live our lives on this shoreline,” Jets said.

Map of sensor buoys near Sauk, British Columbia, and a graph showing water temperature fluctuations on a given day.
A readout from buoys showing water temperatures in the Sauk Basin on July 27. (Marine Labs)

MarineLabs CEO Scott Petty said there are currently 41 sensors along the coast of Canada that are similar to his company but generally older – but he believes there should be thousands so that communities, private businesses and the government can use this information to understand the impact of climate change.

“Ocean statistics are changing and climate change is making it worse,” Petty said.

Petty said that if the operators of the Zim Kingston, a container ship that lost dozens of containers when it encountered torrential rains and eventually caught fire in the fall of 2021, had access to this kind of data, they might be able to avert disaster. .

“It’s about being proactive, about getting more data in the event of a spill response,” he said.

Ryan Chamberland, director of the Navy at T’Sou-ke Nation, said he would like to see other communities and branches of government invest in similar projects.

“This really helps protect this long-term investment to own this fishery and have access to food and ceremonial fisheries,” he said.

“This is another tool that coastal communities, First Nations can use to do the preventive maintenance that needs to happen on our coast.”

7:02Climate changers: the importance of accurate ocean data

MarineLabs uses smart buoys to provide real-time ocean data to those who need it. Their clients range from the Port of Vancouver to BC Ferries and the Canadian Coast Guard. For the past year and a half, they’ve worked with T’Souke Nation. Rohit Joseph headed to a pier in the country’s traditional region to find out more.


Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. In British Columbia, we’ve seen their effects with deadly heat waves, devastating floods and rampant wildfires. But there are people who are committed to taking meaningful steps, big and small, toward building a better future for our planet. These people are featured in the CBC series climate changersProduced by CBC Science Reporter and Meteorologist Joanna Wagtavi and co-producer Rohit Josephwhich airs on Wednesday All points are westAnd the on the beach And the Western Radio On CBC Radio One and on CBC Vancouver News with features turned on cbc.ca/bc.

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