Healthy ecosystems are the foundation of every part of our lives. We depend on them for clean air and water, food and medicine, security from natural disasters, and cultural connection. Canada and the United States are committed to strong, ongoing collaboration with their partners to protect and manage the health of the Salish Sea ecosystem.
Today, the governments of Canada and the United States announced that they have signed a new four-year “Action Plan” under their Joint Statement of Cooperation-first signed in 2000-that commits both countries to work together on transboundary issues and challenges facing the Salish Sea ecosystem. Under the action plan, the two nations will continue to engage with partners across the region to advance shared priorities for ecosystem health, including information sharing, improving transboundary coordination, and reporting on ecosystem health.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also updated their joint “Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report” analyzing ten indicators of the health of the Salish Sea. Overall trends described in this report reveal some improvement, but also areas of no change or decline that can be identified as ecosystem priorities for future action.
The renewed joint action plan reinforces the commitment by Canada and the United States to address ongoing and new challenges to the health of the Salish Sea together. ECCC and the U.S. EPA will continue to work together with Salish Sea partners, including British Columbia, the State of Washington, Indigenous peoples, local governments, universities, and stakeholders, on the priorities identified in the Action Plan to achieve the goals under the Joint Statement of Cooperation.
“Collaboration and partnerships are key to addressing the challenges facing the transboundary Salish Sea ecosystem. The government of Canada is committed to continue working together with our partners to achieve our collective goals. Sustainable stewardship of the ecosystem is critical to the economic and overall well-being of a growing population in the region.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“This action plan and indicators report highlight the importance of continued partnership between the U.S. and Canada. The waters of the shared Salish Sea are the economic, social, and cultural backbone of the communities of the region, and we’re confident that the enduring partnership between EPA and ECCC will continue to advance the protection and restoration of the Salish Sea for future generations.”
– Michael S. Regan, Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The Salish Sea ecosystem is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in North America and includes the Juan de Fuca Strait, Puget Sound, and Georgia Basin.
Today, about 8.7 million people live in the areas around the Salish Sea. By 2040, it is expected the population will expand to over 10.5 million people.
The Joint Statement of Cooperation between Canada and the U.S. serves to:
- confirm the commitment and leadership of the Canadian and U.S. governments;
- recognize the interests of First Nations and Tribes;
- initiate a Canada-U.S. regional working group to establish priorities;
- act on sustainability challenges; and
- promote multi-jurisdictional collaboration on transboundary issues.
The 2021-2024 Action Plan prioritizes the following:
- supporting the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference;
- maintaining and further developing the Transboundary Salish Sea Ecosystem Health Indicators and the Health of the Salish Sea Ecosystem Report;
- information sharing activities on environmental impact assessments and notification processes for projects in the Salish Sea ecosystem;
- supporting local, state/provincial, and Tribal-First Nation transboundary coordination and information-sharing mechanisms; and
- coordination and information sharing on federal Salish Sea initiatives and identifying opportunities where U.S. and Canadian interests and mechanisms intersect.
The “Health of the Salish Sea Report” draws from publicly available monitoring, research, and other information gathered between 2017 and 2020. The work aims to answer the following questions based on a suite of ten indicators:
- What is happening in the Salish Sea?
- Why is it important?
- Why is it happening?
- What is being done about it?
The data and information in the report were provided by ECCC, the Puget Sound Partnership, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Coast Salish Gathering, Washington state agencies, British Columbia agencies, Metro Vancouver, Western Washington University’s Salish Sea Institute, and many others.