Q’ul-lhanumutsun Aquatic Resources Society
The Q’ul-lhanumutsun Aquatic Resources Society (QARS) is an incorporated non-profit Society that was create to provide technical capacity and strategic communications for our Member First Nation communities, so that community staff and leadership are able to engage on aquatic resource management in an informed manner. We create opportunities for the six Coast Salish communities of Stz’uminus First Nation, Halalt First Nation, Penelakut Tribe, Lyackson First Nation, Cowichan Tribes and Lake Cowichan First Nation – representing over 8000 people overall, to carry out strategic planning on fisheries and aquatic resources. This is accomplished through having a board of directors with equal voice from each of the six communities, by hosting meetings where information can be shared, and by providing expertise in the field, in communities and in technical and policy-oriented aquatic resource processes. Our services provide meaningful capacity to communities that require the services of a Biologist, and access to up-to-date information that must be achieved through a high level of process engagement. QARS provides its member communities with the data collection and management capacity as afforded by modern database systems and data capture tools such as UAV’s and ROV’s. We engage with DFO and other agencies to create opportunities that support community interests including fisheries access, shellfish safety, salmon enumeration, herring rebuilding, intertidal habitat assessment and the preservation and use of marine traditional knowledge.
Chemainus River DIDSON
In 2016, QARS began a pilot project, in partnership with DFO Stock Assessment, to enumerate chum salmon returning to Chemainus River with a DIDSON counter. This marked an important milestone as it was the first time such accurate data has been collected for chum salmon returning to Chemainus River. Data from this project will, in time, provide insight into chum salmon population status and trends, and inform conservation efforts and fisheries management. This project has now been in operation for three seasons and will be continuing indefinitely.
Pacific Herring Rebuilding
Pacific herring play a critical role in the health of our local marine ecosystem. Within the Hul’q’umi’num core territory, Pacific herring spawning events have been reducing dramatically since the 1990’s with no spawn of any kind observed in the last two years. This lack of spawn, coupled with increased Food and Bait fishery quotas, led QARS and its Member nations to begin working towards the removal of commercial herring fisheries from the Hul’q’umi’num core territory. After several years, the QARS and its Members have succeeded in the closures of the Roe Herring and Food and Bait Herring fisheries from the waters contained within the Southern Gulf Islands. These closures will provide overwintering and migrating herring with a refuge from commercial fishing pressure that is present almost year-round in the Strait of Georgia. QARS continues to work towards the rebuilding of local herring stocks and the rehabilitation of the local ecosystem.
Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Assessments
To aid in habitat assessments of marine and lake environments, QARS has acquired an ROV and 2 UAV’s. To date, QARS has used these tools to collect baseline mapping data, to do subsurface assessments of rockfish habitat, and to assess the impacts of log storage sites on intertidal areas. These have proven to be valuable tools, providing a greater understanding of aquatic environments and allowing for more knowledgeable decisions to be made.
KEY ACTIVITIES INCLUDE:
∙ Provide technical capacity to support Member community engagement in fisheries and aquatic resource management ∙ strategic planning around aquatic resources ∙ ecological assessment ∙ stock assessment ∙ conservation-based research ∙ community engagement ∙
- Executive Director
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Health Canada
- Province of BC
- Pacific Salmon Foundation
- Ducks Unlimited
- Island Marine Aquatic Working Group
- Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society
- Salish Eye Productions
- Trailmark Systems Inc.