State of the Physical, Biological and Selected Fishery Resources of Pacific Canadian Marine Ecosystems in 2014
By Peter C. Chandler, Stephanie A. King and R. Ian Perry (Editors)

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Abstract

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for the management and protection of marine resources on the Pacific coast of Canada. An annual State of the Pacific Ocean meeting is held to review the physical, biological and selected fishery resources and present the results of the most recent year’s monitoring in the context of previous observations and expected future conditions. The workshop to review conditions during 2014 took place at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, B.C. on March 10 and 11, 2015, with over 100 participants both in person and via webinar.

In general, Pacific Canadian waters experience strong seasonality and considerable freshwater influence and include relatively protected regions such as the Strait of Georgia as well as areas fully exposed to the open ocean conditions of the Pacific. The region supports ecologically and economically important resident and migratory populations of invertebrates, groundfish, pelagic fishes, marine mammals and seabirds.

Observations of the marine environment in early 2014 identified a large pool of very warm water in the Northeast Pacific Ocean and an area of cooler water along the west coast of North America. By the end of the year the very warm water had moved into the coastal regions with record high temperatures recorded at many locations in the fall. Monitoring of the biological conditions showed the influences of this warm water on marine species composition and distribution.

Such observations include a change from cold water to warm water zooplankton taxa from spring to fall 2014 off the west coast of Vancouver island, the second year with no sardines observed in B.C. waters, a record proportion of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon returning via the ‘northern diversion’ through Johnstone Strait, and mass mortalities of juvenile Cassin’s Auklets (a plankton-feeding seabird) in late fall 2014.

Warmer than normal weather was experienced in the fall and winter of 2014 along the west coast of British Columbia with less regional snowpack evident in the spring of 2015.

A special session at the meeting was convened to examine the emerging issue of ocean acidification. The level of monitoring and research on this subject was considered below that required given the potential risk to the health of the environment and commercial interests. The proposals of groups to advance the work on this subject were discussed.

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