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Prioritizing Threat Management Strategies to Ensure Long-term Resilience of the Fraser River Estuary

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    Julia Baum University of Victoria

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    Tara Martin University of British Columbia

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    Laura Kehoe Baum Lab, University of Victoria

This project will undertake a priority threat management assessment to identify the management actions required to abate the key threats to the Fraser River Estuary in order to ensure its long-term resilience.

Estuaries are amongst the most important and productive ecosystems within marine environments globally. They also have the most at risk. British Columbia's Fraser River Estuary (FRE) provides valuable goods and services to the people of Canada and abroad. It is the mouth of the largest salmon-bearing river in BC's rapidly expanding urban population. Without timely and effective conservation management, these goods and services are at risk. Water pollution and loss of habitat resulting from industrial and urban development, exploitation of fish stocks, and climate change are a few of the key threats.

This project is undertaking a priority threat management assessment to identify the management actions required to abate the key threats to the Fraser River Estuary to ensure its long-term resilience. It uses state-of-the-art techniques in conservation decision science to identify the most effective and least costly management actions needed to ensure the long-term resilience of the FRE. 

In 2016, field research was initiated which will determine the importance of Fraser River estuary habitat to juvenile salmon. Lia Chalifour (M.Sc. Candidate) is working with Raincoast Conservation Foundation to analyze the results.

This year we are working hard to 1) finalise our list of species of concern in the FRE, 2) get in touch with the most knowledgeable ecological experts in the area, and 3) hold an expert elicitation workshop in order to identify the most effective management actions for the FRE.

The project is now part of the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project (SSMSP) network, and will contribute to salmon conservation initiatives for British Columbia and Washington. This project is one of nine research projects funded through MEOPAR's partnership with Irving Shipbuilding Inc. Read More


  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Environment Canada
  • Raincoast Conservation Foundation
  • Pacific Salmon Foundation
  • University of British Columbia


  • Chalifour,Lia,Black, M.J., Cox, K., Schroeder, S., and Juanes, F.. 2017, Book Revew: Ecology of Salmonids in Estuaries around the World: Adaptations, Habitats, and Conservation by Colin D. Levings, Fish and Fisheries, 388 pp,10.1111/faf.12221.
  • Baum,Julia,Maciejewski, K., G. S. Cumming. 2016, Integration of private land conservation areas in a network of statutory protected areas: Implications for sustainability, Biological Conservation, 200:200-206,10.1016/j.biocon.2016.05.027.
  • Martin,Tara,Mantyka-Pringle, C. S., D. B. Moffatt, J. Udy, J. Olley, N. Saxton, F. Sheldon, S. E. Bunn, and J. R. Rhodes.. 2016, Prioritizing management actions for the conservation of freshwater biodiversity under changing climate and land-cover. , Biological Conservation, 197:80-89.,10.1016/j.biocon.2016.02.033.
  • Baum,Julia,McDevitt-Irwin JM, Iacarella JC. 2016, Reassessing the nursery role of seagrass habitats from temperate to tropical regions: a meta-analysis, Mar Ecol Prog Ser,
  • Martin,Tara,Scheffers, B. R., L. De Meester, T. C. L. Bridge, A. A. Hoffmann, J. M. Pandolfi, R. T. Corlett, S. H. M. Butchart, P. Pearce-Kelly, K. M. Kovacs, D. Dudgeon, M. Pacifici, C. Rondinini, W. B. Foden, C. Mora, D. Bickford, and J. E. M. Watson.. 2016, The broad footprint of climate change from genes to biomes to people, Science, 354,


The outcome of this project will be a prospectus for investing in the priority management actions needed to ensure the resilience of the FRE’s natural assets into the future. In this highly contested estuary, with a diverse array of stakeholders and multiple threats, demonstrating the return-on-investment of managing its natural assets is essential. Through a rich set of collaborators and the networks that they bring to this project, pathways for implementing these priority management actions will be developed. Finally, the training of five HQP in these state-of-the-art conservation decision analysis techniques will benefit Canada and its marine systems for years to come.

This project brings together experts in the ecology, sociology, economics and management of estuarine systems and the FRE in particular from those of government, First Nations, industries (fishing, agriculture, forestry), academia and environmental non-government organizations, along with fishers and other nonspecialists with local knowledge. Together these experts, policy makers, and stakeholders will estimate the costs and benefits of alternative management actions.

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Visit Tara Martin's Lab
Julia Baum on Twitter @baumlab
Tara Martin on Twitter @TaraGMartin