Bamfield Marine Science Centre: Abalone Coastwatch
by Naomi Man in 't Veld and Aimee Pelletier, Tofino
Poaching endangered animals doesn't just
happen in exotic places; it happens right here on Vancouver Island. In b.c., the northern or pinto abalone is a threatened shellfish species that is being illegally harvested, despite protection through the Species at Risk Act (sara) and the consequent jail time and hefty fines for poachers. For a species whose population was decimated by an over-zealous commercial fishery, poaching can be a fatal blow.
The Abalone Coastwatch Program, based out of the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, is a community-driven organization dedicated to the protection of b.c.'s wild abalone, supported in partnership with the Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program. The program takes its inspiration from neighbourhood-watch programs in which community members are vigilant and promise to observe, record and report suspicious activity. The Abalone Coastwatch Program works in the same way, but on a coast-wide scale. The program focuses on raising awareness and amassing a volunteer-based passive front against abalone poaching. Members promise to report any suspicious activity involving the harvest, transport, or selling of b.c. wild abalone to a 24-hour toll free line. Three counts of abalone poaching activity have already been reported this year.
Please report any suspicious activity or contravention of sara to the 24-hour toll free observe, record, report line at 1-800-465-4336. For further information on Abalone Coastwatch and its upcoming events, please contact the bmsc Public Education Program at (250) 728.3301 oxt 226 or visit the Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community Abalone Project website at
Naomi and Aimee are from the public education program, Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre