As 2023 comes to a close, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year with immense gratitude and appreciation.

Read on to learn about our recent research and engagement activities, changes in the project team, and ways for you to get involved with the MSI this winter/spring.

Search for Slhawt’ / Herring

In partnership with the Squamish Nation and many others, we completed our annual slhawt’ / herring spawn surveys from February to April. Between all our volunteers, staff, and contractors, we spent a combined 724 hours searching for herring spawn in 2023! Read the full report here.

Our hands are raised in gratitude to all the volunteers, staff, partners, sponsors, and advisors who contributed to the success of this program. This would not be possible without the energy, time, and passion that you bring forth to caring for Atl’ka7tsem.

Marine Debris

Rebecca McDonald joined MSI as our Marine Debris Coordinator in July, as part the Ocean Wise Ocean Pathways program.

During her three month placement, she updated our Marine Debris Reporting Tool, participated in shoreline clean-ups with the Nicholas Sontag Marine Education Center and Ocean Legacy, and created resources for tackling marine debris in Atl’ka7tsem.

Dungeness Crab Surveys

We completed a second summer of Dungeness Crab Megalopae Light Trap Surveys, in partnership with the Hakai Institute Sentinels of Change initiative. Over 315 000 megalopae were recorded across the Salish Sea in 2023 – a massive jump from around 20 000 total last year.

A team of dedicated MSI volunteers were responsible for surveying in Horseshoe Bay, and they recorded the highest numbers of the entire program!

Project Team

We’ve had a few changes in our project team this year:

  • Courtney Smaha has moved on to work for the Province and passed along the Project Director position to Ellika Cairns. Reach out to Ellika here!

  • Melany Sanchez has moved on from her role as Project Coordinator with MSI to a position with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

  • Rebecca McDonald was on the MSI team for 3 months as Marine Debris Coordinator.

  • Matthew Van Oostdam has joined MSI again as our 2024 Search for Slhawt’/ Herring Project Coordinatorreach out if you’d like to volunteer!

  • Erica Olson continues with MSI as our Governance and Monitoring Lead.

  • Nolan Rudkowsky wrapped up his position as Indigenous Research Coordinator.

  • Nikita Wallia continues as our GIS Analyst, in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation.

We are so thankful for the time and passion that our team members bring to MSI. Wishing Courtney, Melany, Nolan, and Rebecca the best of luck in their new opportunities!

Get involved this winter

We have several volunteer opportunities:

  • Help us conduct land-based surveys for slhawt’/herring spawn from February to April
  • Write a guest blog post and/or social media post
  • Update links on the Marine Reference Guide
  • Organize a local shoreline cleanup with us
  • Report marine debris with our online form
It is with great pleasure that we extend our heartfelt thanks to you for your support of the Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound Marine Stewardship Initiative.
Whether it was through volunteer efforts, knowledge-sharing, partnership, financial support, or simply spreading awareness about Átl’ḵa7tsem/Howe Sound, your involvement has played a crucial role in advancing our mission.