Marine Shorelines

Island shorelines are valuable for ecological and cultural reasons.

Much of the Salish Sea’s marine life, including salmon, whales, and birds, relies on nearshore habitat for spawning, early life, or food.

From clam gardens to fish weirs to middens, the shorelines of the Trust Area reflect First Nations people in this region since time immemorial.

Islands Trust is here to work with you to ensure the preservation and protection of shorelines. Find out more about what we’re doing, local priorities, and get access to resources below.

Bald eagle in mid flight with talons extended and head gazing down into the water

1. Climate change in our region is resulting in more frequent and more severe winter storms, plus slowly rising sea levels. Recently, this has resulted in significant new erosion of beaches and shorelines. Scientists predict the trend will continue in the future.

2. Some homeowners have built hard structures to hold back the sea from homes and properties when trying to protect shorelines in low-lying areas. Scientific studies show these measures do not work and increase erosion and negatively impact nearshore, beach, and sea life.

3. Many landowners successfully protect their shoreline properties using natural materials, slopes, and plantings. For more see the publication Your Marine Waterfront: A Guide to Protecting your Property while Promoting Healthy Shorelines.

What We Are Doing

  • Reviewing local trust committee and Bowen Island Municipality foreshore policies and regulatory bylaws and developing model policy and regulatory bylaws for protecting the foreshore and nearshore
  • Working with scientists and Cultural Knowledge Holders to understand how climate change could impact shorelines
  • Mapping the extent of eelgrass beds throughout the Trust Area
  • Offering stewardship education programs
  • Advocating to minimize the impact of commercial activities on the marine environment and taking part in Canada’s Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) recovery plan
  • Helping you protect shorelines with the Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP)
  • Collaborating with First Nations and conservation groups to monitor nature reserves and conservation covenants
  • Conducting mapping and inventories of shoreline ecosystems and fragile cultural heritage sites
  • Enforcing shoreline bylaws and development permit area regulations where they are in place
  • Ensuring applications conform to the legal requirements necessary to preserve and protect shoreline archaeological sites

Local Priorities

  • All local trust committees and Bowen Island Municipality have official community plan policies addressing shoreline protection and may also have shoreline protection projects underway. Learn more on their webpages
  • Some islands have shoreline development permit areas and shoreline zoning regulations. You’ll find mapping details and restrictions on their webpages as well