News & Events

01-Dec: Letter to DFO concerning the Herring Fishery

We oppose the commercial fishery

In an earlier post this year we stated our opposition to the commercial herring fishery in the Salish Sea. Herring stocks are in decline generally, and since herring are a critical link in the marine food web between plankton and larger fish, marine mammals, and birds, it is fundamentally important to take steps to avoid further decline.

We have formed a committee to focus on this issue, and plan to use arguments based on science, economics, and culture to pressure government to eliminate or drastically reduce the commercial fishery. As well, we are collaborating with the Hornby Island Conservancy, and other organizations, on this issue.

We have written a letter to Fisheries and Oceans Canada seeking assurance that there will be no commercial herring fishery in Howe Sound in the near future.

Thumbnail image of letter to DFO concerning herring fishery
Click on the image to read the full letter
News & Events

20-Jan: Stories from the Bay

A Zoom event about Kwil’akm / Mannion Bay

The Howe Sound / Átl’ḵa7tsem Marine Reference Guide hosted a Zoom event in January, with SeaChange Marine Conservation Society and Bowen Island Municipality called ‘Stories from the Bay’.

It was an evening of storytelling about Kwil’akm / Mannion Bay with stories from the community and a few presentations from groups who are actively restoring and taking care of the Bay.

The objective of this storytelling event was to build community, share information about the stewardship and management activities in the bay, and catalyse community engagement for nearshore restoration. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear stories submitted from individuals about their stewardship and connection with Mannion Bay.

News & Events

2020 Annual General Meeting

Date and time

Our 2020 Annual General Meeting was held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 28th, 2020, via a Zoom meeting, in accordance with the BC Government’s Ministerial Order No. M116.

After the formal business presentation, we continued with some presentations about the new Park at Cape Roger Curtis.

View the slides presented at the AGM.

View the AGM Draft Minutes.


1:00 pm: Formal business meeting

The formal portion of the meeting included:

  1. Approval of the AGM Agenda
  2. Approval of Minutes of the 2019 AGM
  3. Report from the Chair
  4. Consideration and adoption of the Financial Statements (required for filing the annual report to the government)
  5. Directors: election of new and returning directors

1:50 pm: Break

2:00 pm: Our new waterfront park at Cape Roger Curtis

On December 16th we will take possession of 32 acres of waterfront property at Cape Roger Curtis. We took some time at this point in the afternoon to talk about some important aspects of the lands that make up the park, and to answer questions.

  • Owen Plowman gave an overview of the area and the park, and how this park became a reality
  • Bob Turner showed a short video about the park
  • Sue Ellen Fast spoke about the ecosystem on the coastal bluffs and why it needs to be protected.
News & Events

16-Oct: Our waterfront park at Cape Roger Curtis is happening

News & Events Public education

02-Aug: An outing at Mannion Bay

We explored Bowen Island’s best Tidal Flats

Along with the Bowen Nature Club we convened a Beach Explore outing on Sunday, August 2, from 10:00 am to noon. We poked around the extensive tidal flats of Mannion (Deep) Bay adjacent to the Lagoon Causeway and Sandy Beach (see the map below), during an extreme summer low tide: the very best time to observe life on these biologically rich sands and muds. These flats are home to oyster, clams, small fish and crabs, and have been a centre for human activity on the Island, including shellfish harvesting by Squamish Nation peoples, a brickworks (during early settlement), and a recreation hub for Union Steamship holiday crowds.

News & Events Public education

06-Jun: Prohibit motorized use of Mount Gardner

Our letter

We wrote to Tom Blackbird, District Recreation Officer, Recreation Sites and Trails BC, to ask that he designate the Crown Lands on Mount Gardner for non-motorized use only.

Copies of our letter went to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, other members of the Recreation Sites and Trails BC organization, and our Mayor and Council.

Read a PDF copy of our letter.

CRCTS-News News & Events Public education

14-Mar: A Park at Cape Roger Curtis!

Lot 21 looking West at Cape Roger Curtis

This photo was taken at Cape Roger Curtis Lot 21, looking West. To see a panoramic, uncropped view, click on the photo (the photo is large so it may take some time to load)

A local family (who wish to remain anonymous) has proposed an offer to purchase 3 waterfront lots at Cape Roger Curtis (CRC), to create a 30 acre park. The family want this land to be preserved for conservation purposes in perpetuity, and made available for the enjoyment of residents and visitors to Bowen Island.

At long last our much-desired waterfront park at Cape Roger Curtis is within reach! The CRC developers contacted us 2 weeks ago with the news that they are open to an offer to acquire these 3 lots. Very welcome news!

The lots in question, 20, 21, and 22, are extremely beautiful. Whales swim past just off the lichen-covered cliffs, a litle way from a peaceful forest. Conservation status would protect the rare coast bluff ecosystem that’s present, and make it possible to remedy the damage done by preliminary development activities.

We are working with the family who wishes to donate funds, and on moving forward with other activities that will put us in a position to make an offer some time in the next few weeks. The process is complicated and there are many activities that require coordination and knowledge from individuals with special expertise (for example, we need legal counsel, tax advice, and so on). Since we received the news from the Cape developers we have been working hard and have made good progress.

The exact location of these lots and the park that would result is shown on the map below.

Map showing the proposed park at Cape Roger Curtis

Photos taken from the water

We are grateful to Bob Turner for making these photos available.

News & Events Public education Speakers

22-Feb: The ongoing necessity of land and marine protection

A talk by Vicky Husband

Our 2020 speaker series continued on February 22nd with a talk by Vicky Husband on “The ongoing necessity of land and marine protection”.

Vicky is a life-long resident of Vancouver Island. Born in Victoria, she is a recipient of the Order of Canada and Order of BC and an honorary doctorate from the University of Victoria for her volunteer conservation work in BC over the last 40 years. She is an internationally renowned forest and marine conservation advocate, acknowledged by the 1988 United Nations Global 500 Award. Vicky is a passionate defender of BC’s natural heritage, in support of parks and proper regional planning and land use.

Vicky has a wealth of experience in protecting forests, and this was a very interesting session.

Our thanks to the Knick Knack Nook

We are grateful to the Knick Knack Nook Small Grants Program for their financial support for this event.

News & Events Public education

09-Feb: Oppose the Salish Sea commercial herring fishery

Imminent danger of herring fishery collapse

In our Salish Sea, herring stocks are down this year—again. And the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Bernadette Jordan, despite advice from her own scientists, has approved a commercial herring fishery that may take up to 20% of the herring—again. The Minister is flirting with total collapse of the herring fishery: 4 of the 5 BC herring fisheries are currently closed because populations are so depressed. Bob Turner, a member of the Conservancy Board has made a short film that documents what happens during the commercial fishery (see the end of this article).

Please read the letter to the Minister, signed by 70 conservation and marine tourism organizations, asking for the commercial herring fishery to be suspended. And please write your own letter of opposition to the Minister.


The Bowen Island Conservancy is joining with other Conservancies and Environmental groups to demand that the Department of Fisheries & Oceans eliminate or substantially reduce the industrial herring Fisheries in the Salish Sea. Some historical background and rationale for our position:

  • First Nations use: First Nations oral histories, confirmed by archeological studies, establish that herring have been used by indigenous people on the BC coast for thousands of years.

    Herring were caught by various means throughout the year, and herring eggs were collected on tree branches or kelp during spawning season. First Nations elders describe obtaining herring throughout the year and obtaining spawn annually. However, for most of these communities, access to herring and herring spawn is a thing of the past.

    Recent archeological studies confirm that herring was consumed by indigenous people in very large quantities, in some places surpassing salmon as a staple food. Captain Cook, visiting West Coast Vancouver island in 1778, referred to herring spawn as the peoples “winter bread”. Importantly, the archeological studies and oral histories describe herring being consistently available throughout the Salish Sea.

    Regrettably, the abundance of herring on our coast has sharply declined in modern times, both in quantity and distribution.

  • Ecological importance: Herring play a significant role in the ecology of the Salish sea. They are an important food source for chinook salmon, seabirds, whales and other mammals. If you have watched Bob Turner’s video above, you will have learned why herring are such an important part of the food web.

  • Industrial herring fishing: Commercial fishing for herring by non-indigenous people began in the 19th century. The fishery grew, and in the early 20th century dry salted herring for export became a major industry. In the 1930s the fishery expanded again, rendering massive quantities of herring for fish meal and oil. By the 1950s, catches exceeded 200,000 tons annually.

    This fishery was unsustainable, and in the 1960s herring stocks collapsed and the commercial herring fisheries were shut down. By the early 1970s, though, stocks had somewhat recovered and a “roe fishery” for export to Japan commenced. This fishery involves extracting the roe from the females and then rendering the female carcasses and all of the males into fish meal, used in agriculture and as feed for fish farms. The roe fishery grew, harvesting thousands of tons annually, and continues as the major herring fishery today. The other significant herring fishery is named “food and bait”, and a recent investigation by the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre concludes that this fishery provides exports for fish food for tuna farms and captive whales.

    As with previous herring fisheries, serious sustainability issues have developed. At present, stocks in four of the five management areas on the coast have collapsed to the point where they are insufficient to carry on herring fisheries. The remaining area, the Salish sea, has been the exception for many years, but recently stocks have declined sharply.

Our conclusion

The Conservancy has concluded that it is time for DFO to take sustainability seriously, and either cancel the fishery or make substantial amendments to management, recognizing the importance of herring to the ecology of the Salish Sea.

What happens during the commercial fishery?

News & Events Public education

05-Jan: Howe Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve initiative update

Last December 6th, several Bowen Islanders took a water taxi to Gambier Island to join with other groups from around Howe Sound for a Conservationists Network Meeting. Our attendees included Sue Ellen Fast, Will Husby, and Adam Taylor, with Owen Plowman and Bob Turner representing the Bowen Island Conservancy. The Network Meeting was a follow-up from our first Network Meeting in October 2017; these meetings are set up so that we can share ideas, news about projects, and get to know like-minded folks from other organizations in the area.

The Gambier Island Conservancy hosted us, and we covered a wide range of topics. Of course, one of the major items on the agenda was progress on the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative, and we heard very welcome news about that! The completed 328 page nomination document for Atl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound to be designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve is now with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO for their review and endorsement.

Bob Turner has made a video about his thoughts on the initiative:

News & Events Public education

05-Jan: HELIT TŦE SȽOṈ,ET (Let the Herring Live)

How do we restore the herring population?

In November 2019 First Nations and environmental organizations from around the Salish Sea met in Saanichton to discuss the restoration of the Sea’s distinct herring populations, and to collaborate on strategies to bring vitality back to communities for whom herring was a foundational species. The Bowen Island Conservancy was represented by our Board Member, Bob Turner (Bob has made another on of his beautiful videos about the herring spawning off Hornby Island).


Over the coming months, efforts will continue to oppose commercial herring fisheries in the Strait of Georgia. You can learn more about why this is the case by reading the notes from the event, and by watching this YouTube video. A Press Release was issued in mid-December which provides additional information.

As well, you may read the letter that’s been sent, signed by 70 conservation and marine tourism organizations, to the Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Bernadette Jordan, asking for the commercial herring fishery to be suspended.

News & Events Speakers

2019 Annual General Meeting

Our 2019 Annual General Meeting was held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 23rd, 2019 at the Bowen Island Community School.

After the formal business presentation we screened a beautiful film, and the film Director answered questions.

Read the Minutes of the meeting

1:00 pm: Formal business meeting

The formal portion of the meeting included:

  1. Approval of the AGM Agenda
  2. Approval of Minutes of the 2018 AGM
  3. Report from the Chair
  4. Consideration and adoption of the Financial Statements (required for filing the annual report to the government)
  5. Directors: election of new and returning directors

1:45 pm: Coffee break

2:00 pm: Guest speaker Jon Chiang: Sound Water

From the Headwaters of the Elaho River, down the Squamish and into Howe Sound–Sound Water is a film that questions our pursuit for adventure, our relationship with nature and with ourselves.

A beautiful film, Sound Water begins by asking a simple question” “Where does the water come from?”. It leads to a more complex series of questions: “What does our connection to water mean?”, “What about our connection to nature?”.

We are sure you will enjoy the film and the chance to talk to the film makers.

About Jon: A director based in Vancouver, Jon’s work focuses on creating intimate and moving branded films for his clients. His previous short documentary ‘The Lion’ was awarded the People’s choice award at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival. It has also been screened at the Asian American International Film Festival and Vancouver Short Film Festival.

Jon’s curiosity about Howe Sound/Atl’Kitsem, led to the creation of Sound Water, his first outdoor short documentary.

Our thanks to the Knick Knack Nook

We are grateful to the Knick Knack Nook Small Grants Program for their financial support for the film presentation at this event.

News & Events Public education

26-Oct: Marine Atlas Open House

You came and told us your stories!

On Saturday, 26 October 2019, the Bowen Island Conservancy hosted an Open House for its Bowen/Nexwlélexm Marine Atlas Project. We asked the community this question:

  • Do you have an experience along Bowen’s shores that you want to share? Perhaps with a friendly seal? Or a beautiful sea star? Maybe a heron catching a fish?

And we offered to answer questions from the community:

  • Why are people so excited about the discovery of glass sponge reefs in Howe Sound?
  • Why did we have so many sea lions along Bowen shores last April?
  • What is the black duck that winters along Bowen shores in flocks of hundreds?
  • How did First Nations harvest from the sea?
  • Have the first salmon arrived at the Causeway yet?

66 people dropped in to the Open House (you can see some of them in the photos below). They stayed between 10 minutes and more than an hour and we enjoyed ourselves.

Why an Open House?

The goal of the Marine Atlas project is to engage Bowen Islanders in a greater awareness, celebration, and stewardship of our shores and nearby marine waters. The Atlas pulls together local and scientific knowledge to create resources that empower us to know, care, and better steward of our local marine realm.

The two hour Open House was an opportunity for people to give us input for the Atlas, and to ask questions. We had 7 different activity centres, including:

  1. A “Big Map” where stories could be posted about an experience along our shores
  2. A place to explore the draft Marine Atlas chapters, and test knowledge with a special Quiz
  3. 4 focus tables, each hosted by island experts: (birders, salmon people, intertidal life biologist; divers)
  4. A movie about marine life along Bowen shores.

We arranged for discussions with some of Bowen’s best naturalists about our local marine life. Our birders team answer bird questions, and talkedabout best places to see our local marine birds. Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Club members gave an overview of Bowen’s salmon streams, how the salmon hatchery works, and about the Salmon in Schools program. Well-known biologist Will Husby had a microscope to explore with people the tiny critters from our shores. Adam Taylor, Bowen’s favorite diver, was there with stories, photos and movies of octopus, glass sponge reefs, and other secrets of the deep. And Bob Turner, local film maker, showed a new movie of Bowen’s marine wildlife.

We are very grateful to the Bowen Island Community Foundation, and several private donors, for their funding support for our Marine Atlas project.

News & Events

04-May: Herons, Hummingbirds, and Hawks of Bowen Island

An overview of Bowen’s special birds

Our 2019 speaker series continued on May 4th with a talk by Sue Ellen Fast on “Herons, Hummingbirds, and Hawks of Bowen Island”.

We learned about Bowen’s special birdlife, with the help of the Bowen Nature Club’s checklist, slides, and a few bones and feathers. A highlight was the latest about our nesting colony of Great Blue Herons, still producing chicks after twenty years, in spite of everything. A conservation success story worthy of such a such a beautiful and protected part of the world!

Winter birds include hummingbirds these days, along with dramatic flocks of sea ducks. We also shared observations about how birdlife on Bowen has changed, and took a checklist away to use on the trails.

About Sue Ellen

Sue Ellen is a Bowen Island municipal councillor and Islands Trust Vice-Chair. She is a conservation and learning consultant with years of experience connecting children and families to nature, and a background in wildlife biology. Sue Ellen was chair of the Bowen Island Conservancy for nine years, belongs to the BC Municipal Climate Leadership Council, and lives here on Bowen Island.

Our thanks to the Knick Knack Nook

We are grateful to the Knick Knack Nook Small Grants Program for their financial support for this event.

News & Events

09-Mar: Marine Habitat Protection

Our 2019 speaker series continued on Saturday, 09 March, with a talk by Devon Page, Executive Director of Ecojustice, about Marine Habitat Protection. At a time when we are celebrating Howe Sound’s recovery, we still face LNG and oil tankers, gravel mines, and deliberate or accidental pollution as potential threats to our marine environment.

Ecojustice is Canada’s largest environmental law charity. Devon spent his first 7 years there channeling his love of wilderness into protecting Canada’s endangered birds, wildlife and fish. He obtained the first injunction in Canada to stop logging in old-growth forests home to an endangered species (the northern spotted owl) and launched the first cases under federal species at risk legislation. Devon became Executive Director in 2008, and has focused on enhancing Ecojustice’s effectiveness by emphasizing litigation around key environmental and legal priorities, and expanding Ecojustice’s operations from British Columbia and Ontario to Alberta and the Maritimes.

For more than 25 years Ecojustice has gone to court to protect wilderness and wildlife, challenge industrial projects, and keep harmful chemicals out of the air, water, and ecosystems we all depend on.

Calls to action

Devon left us with actions to take that will help to protect our natural environment.

Bill C-69 Impact Assessment Act

In February 2018 our federal government unveiled Bill C-69, which would introduce a new law governing environmental assessments (EA), replace the National Energy Board with a new Canadian Energy Regulator, and amend the Navigation Protection Act to introduce some additional protections.

The new Impact Assessment Act (IAA) is incorporated into Bill C-69, and is currently with the Senate. The Act appears to introduce some important changes that would better safeguard the environment, allow communities to have a more meaningful say about projects that affect them, and potentially take a bigger-picture view of the cumulative impacts of natural resource development. There has been significant opposition to the IAA from industry, and it appears to be stalled.

Below is a list of our BC Senators, with contact information. If you can, please telephone them and tell them to stop stalling and move forward with the Act. If you do not wish to phone, please send email.

Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development

We need to tell the Minister to:

  • Introduce modern land use planning based on ecological health
  • Introduce clear and enforecable laws that ensure ecological health of BC’s ecosystems, rivers, lakes, watershed, forests, old growth areas, wildlife, and wildlife habitat
  • Set timber supply objectives

The Minister is: The Honourable Doug Donaldson:

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy

We need to tell the Minister to introduce comprehensive and enforceable endangered species legislation that will protect BC’s growing list of endangered species and restore their necessary habitat.

The Minister is: The Honourable George Heyman:

News & Events

12-Jan: The Orcas of Howe Sound

Our 2019 speaker series began on Saturday, 12 January, with a talk by Bob Turner on “The Orcas of Howe Sound”.

The return of Orcas (or Killer Whales) over the past decade has been an inspiring reminder that the health of Howe Sound/Atl’kitsem is in recovery. For the past several years, Bob, who is a long time Bowen resident, scientist, and now amateur film maker, has been recording stories about the wild inhabitants of Howe Sound. In this talk, Bob will speak about his experiences making two short movies about local Orcas: one shot by his brother while surrounded by a pod of orcas attacking a sea lion that had sought refuge against the hull of his boat; the other a quieter hour with a pod off the west side of Bowen Island.

Inspired as we are by these magnificent animals, we nonetheless need to confront the question of what it means for us to be good neighbours to the wild inhabitants of Howe Sound/Atl’kitsem.