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Protecting salmon at Roberts Bank

August 5, 2020 6:48 pm

The Fraser River estuary, including Roberts Bank, is home to a large number of aquatic species. It supports some of the largest salmon populations in British Columbia and serves as a spawning, nursery, and holding area for over 70 species of marine fish.

Member of the juvenile salmon fieldwork team analyzing a catch at Roberts Bank

Throughout our project planning and consultation, we’ve heard from Indigenous groups, the public, regulatory agencies, and environmental groups that salmon, such as chum and Chinook, are key species at Roberts Bank for a number of reasons.

We’ve heard from Indigenous groups that salmon carry cultural significance and are considered a valuable traditional food source. Environmentally, salmon (predominantly Chinook) are an important food source for southern resident killer whales (SRKW).

Knowing how important salmon are to the local communities and ecosystem, we designed a comprehensive environmental study program as part of the environmental assessment for the project. This work identified opportunities for protecting salmon from potential project-related effects during construction and operation. This work has informed a number of mitigation measures to avoid, reduce, or offset project-related effects.

Here are some of the commitments we’ve made to protect salmon in and around Roberts Bank

  • Designing the placement of the terminal in deep, subtidal waters to avoid sensitive fish habitat
  • Planning to avoid in-water construction when juvenile salmon are present at Roberts Bank
  • Creating on-site and off-site habitat, including intertidal marshes and eelgrass, which is important for rearing of juvenile salmon
  • Undertaking follow-up monitoring to evaluate project-related effects on the productivity of juvenile salmon

In response to feedback from Indigenous groups, we have committed to pursuing additional or enhanced offsetting on top of what was proposed in our Environmental Impact Statement. This will be done in collaboration with regulators and Indigenous groups to contribute to the future health and recovery of both Chinook salmon and SRKW. We will also monitor any habitat we create to confirm they are productive and functioning as intended.

Should the project proceed, we will develop a project-specific fund to support the recovery of Chinook salmon, a key food source for southern resident killer whales. This new initiative will be shaped with the input and collaborative efforts of Indigenous groups, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as other stakeholders.

Here are some other ways we’re addressing potential effects from the project

  • Potential effect: Salmon habitat could be affected as a result of the project footprint and widening of the causeway
  • What we’re doing: In addition to placing the terminal in deep water to avoid direct effects on sensitive intertidal habitat, if the project is approved we would create onsite and offsite fish habitat that would enhance salmon productivity at Roberts Bank by providing additional food sources and refuge from predators
  • Potential effect: Juvenile chum and Chinook salmon productivity could be affected due to disturbance from in-water construction activities
  • What we’re doing: We would avoid in-water construction activities in the intertidal zone and subtidal zone when juvenile salmon are present at Roberts Bank


Click here to learn more about our juvenile salmon field studies program.

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