Earlier this month, Ocean Wise released updated data on contaminants of concern in coastal British Columbia that you can read here! These contaminants come from many sources, near and far, entering marine food webs and affecting invertebrates, fish, seabirds, marine mammals, and people.
Ocean Wise’s Pollution Tracker, the first coast-wide pollution monitoring program in B.C. and Canada, is at the forefront of providing high quality data on these contaminants and enabling actions to stem the release of such substances into the environment. The second phase of Pollution Tracker’s work, conducted between 2018 and 2020, is now available, adding valuable updates to the previous Phase 1 (2015 – 2017) dataset.
Between 2018 and 2020, Ocean Wise worked with First Nations, community groups, port authorities, industry, and government agencies to collect samples from 75 coastal sites. Samples were analyzed for over 450 chemical contaminants and microplastics, including priority contaminants of concern for the health and recovery of the Southern Resident killer Whale population. Using common protocols for sample collection and analysis, the Pollution Tracker program allows for comparison of results over space and time.
The contaminants detected in both Phase 1 and 2 samples reflect a variety of sources, including local urban and industrial inputs to the marine environment (e.g., wastewater and effluent discharges, road run-off, storm-water inputs, shipping activities, pesticide use), external inputs (e.g., contaminants carried from other places via oceanic and atmospheric transport), and oceanographic factors (e.g., currents, water depth, bottom substrate).
Phase 3 of Pollution Tracker officially launched in 2021 and will run until 2024, building on Phase 1 and Phase 2 results at dedicated sites, expanding the project’s spatial coverage, and continuing to build a valuable baseline dataset that will help BC better understand, manage, and prevent marine pollution.