Through the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Habitat Enhancement Program, the port authority leads projects to offset the effects of port development on fish and wildlife habitat within the Port of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.
In 2021, the port authority delivered the Maplewood Marine Restoration Project to offset effects of one of the port authority’s infrastructure projects and add additional hectares to its existing habitat bank for future offsetting. The project, which is located at a marine site within Burrard Inlet, was identified as a restoration priority by Tsleil-Waututh Nation and was delivered with significant collaboration and input from Tsleil-Waututh Nation and involvement from Musqueam Indian Band and Squamish Nation. The site’s mudflats hold cultural significance to Tsleil-Waututh Nation and continue to be used for traditional practices such as harvesting for a variety of marine species.
Located within a deep waterlot basin, the marine restoration project site had been dredged in the 1940s to support a gravel-extraction business and was later used as a log-storage area. Through habitat enhancement efforts led by a multi-disciplinary team, approximately 4.5 hectares of habitat within this basin was restored by creating a tidal flat, an eelgrass bed, and a rock reef. The project also accomplished something that has never been done before in Burrard Inlet: the transplanting of approximately 125,000 eelgrass shoots to create a 1.5-hectare eelgrass bed—about half a hectare larger than a football or soccer field.
Altogether, this restored marine habitat is expected to increase diversity of fish and wildlife in the basin and provide long-term benefits for fish and invertebrates that depend on marine vegetation for rearing. Annual measurement and monitoring efforts assessing the habitat’s productivity will begin in the summer of 2022.