Victoria, B.C – Pacific salmon hold tremendous value for natural ecosystems, cultural and spiritual practices, jobs and income, and recreational enjoyment along the coast and inland watersheds of British Columbia. The province’s coastal estuaries, where freshwater and ocean water meet, are especially vital habitat to important Pacific salmon species, providing food for young fish as well as many other aquatic and land-based animals. Through science, partnerships and action, the Government of Canada strives to protect coastal estuaries and ocean habitats that will support healthy, diverse salmon populations for generations.


Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, on behalf of the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard congratulated the Nature Trust of British Columbia, after its project, Enhancing Estuary Resilience in Coastal BC, was endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as an official contribution to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030.


Enhancing Estuary Resilience in Coastal BC is a five-year project supported by the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF), which is co-funded by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the Province of British Columbia. Since 2019, DFO has provided $8,432,473 in funding to the Nature Trust of British Columbia.


Through the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative, DFO restoration biologists, engineers, and other experts from the Department’s Habitat Restoration Centre of Expertise have contributed significant support to several major ecological restoration projects, providing technical advice and manual labour to support the Nature Trust of British Columbia and its First Nations partners in work to restore core estuarine processes that support fish, wildlife and indigenous food systems. Efforts began even before the Enhancing Estuary Resilience in Coastal BC project was formalized, and have included project planning and design, permitting, berm removals, tidal channel reconnection, re-establishment of saltmarsh vegetation and construction monitoring for the Gwa’dzi (Quatse) River, Xwésam (Salmon) River, Snuneymuxw (Nanaimo) River, Kw’a’luxw  (Englishman) River, and Cowichan River estuaries.


By bringing together partners from 12 First Nations, government, environmental organizations and academic institutions to monitor and restore these invaluable habitats, Enhancing Estuary Resilience in Coastal BC truly exemplifies the vision for the UN Decade of Ocean Science, providing “the science we need for the ocean we want.”


While in Victoria, Minister Wilkinson also highlighted the relinquishment of the final offshore oil and gas permits in Canada’s Pacific region. These represented the last oil and gas permits in the offshore in the Pacific region. With their relinquishment, there are now zero permits left for oil and gas on Canada’s west coast.


This relinquishment also fulfills a condition for First Nations under the Great Bear Sea Project Finance for Permanence (PFP) initiative. In December 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $800 million to support up to four Indigenous-led conservation initiatives under the PFP approach, which will bring together government and private funding to support large-scale, long-term and Indigenous-led conservation initiatives.


Through actions to relinquish offshore oil and gas permits, fulfill the Great Bear Sea PFP initiative, and support ecological restoration projects, Canada is taking a holistic approach to conservation, stewardship, and ecosystem management. With this endorsement from UNESCO, the efforts under the Enhancing Estuary Resilience in Coastal BC project are recognized for their contribution to transforming the way we do ocean science and reaching our shared goal to keep our oceans healthy.




“Understanding the impacts of sea-level rise and other effects of climate change on coastal estuaries is vital to improving the health of wild fish stocks in BC. The Nature Trust of British Columbia’s important work to monitor, assess and restore this crucial habitat for Pacific salmon, in collaboration with First Nations partners is central to our goal of protecting the Pacific salmon population. This endorsement by UNESCO shows that we are on the right track towards achieving our goal of healthy ecosystems and fish stocks in BC.” The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard


“Although estuaries and coastal wetlands make up less than three per cent of our coastline, they support over 80 per cent of BC’s coastal fish and wildlife. Congratulations to the Nature Trust of British Columbia and its many partners for receiving international recognition for your outstanding work to preserve these ecosystems. The accolades you’ve received from UNESCO – one of the world’s most preeminent organizations for international cooperation – are hard earned and very well deserved.” The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources


“It is an honour to have the Enhancing Estuary Resilience in Coastal BC Project recognized and endorsed by UNESCO as part of the Ocean Decade. To be endorsed and to have our project attached to the Cultural Heritage Framework Programme demonstrates how impactful a project can be that engages meaningfully with Indigenous communities to facilitate co-design, develop capacity, enable greater diversity and showcase the integration of science and cultural knowledge and heritage. This recognition is a reflection of all of our partners’ commitment throughout the coast of British Columbia to working together in a meaningful and collaborative way to ensure these ecosystems are resilient into the future, not only to support fish and wildlife but also the coastal communities that rely upon them.” Tom Reid, West Coast Conservation Land Manager, Nature Trust of British Columbia


Quick Facts 

  • Estuaries and coastal wetlands comprise less than 3% of BC’s coastline, yet they support over 80% of the province’s coastal fish and wildlife. The health of estuary ecosystems is vulnerable to impacts of climate change through rising sea levels, ocean acidification, temperature and salinity changes, and other factors.
  • The Nature Trust of British Columbia received project funding of $8,552,415 from July 2019 to March 2024, and is receiving $3,493,975 from May 2023 to March 2026.
    Since inception, 155 projects have received BCSRIF funding, representing an investment of more than $214.67 million in the rebuilding of wild Pacific salmon stocks and supporting the BC fish and seafood sector.
  • Budget 2021 committed an additional $100 million in new federal funding to expand the BCSRIF program as a key component of the Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative (PSSI), bringing Canada’s total contribution to $200 million over seven years. With the Government of British Columbia’s mandate commitment to double its investment, the Province is providing $85.7 million over seven years.
  • The Government of Canada’s Pacific Salmon Strategy Initiative is the largest-ever government investment to date in efforts to save Pacific salmon. Through this investment, Canada will undertake a strategic and coordinated long-term response, rooted in collaborative action, to stabilize and restore Pacific salmon for the ecosystems, people, and communities that depend upon their sustainability.
  • Under PSSI, the newly created Habitat Restoration Center of Expertise adds expanded capacity and new technical experts, including coastal engineers and geomorphologists, to support nature-based solutions that will be more resilient and effective in the face of changing climatic pressures to support salmon conservation and recovery.
  • Canada is an active supporter of the UN Ocean Decade and a member of the Ocean Decade Alliance. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to working with partners to continue to advance a strong and unique Canadian contribution. To date, nearly 100
  • Canadian-led projects have received endorsement from UNESCO as official contributions to the UN Ocean Decade.


For further information: Jérémy Collard, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard,; Media Relations: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 613-990-7537,