The 30,000 Islands of Georgian Bay is a boater’s dream destination with crystal clear waters, endless anchorages, amazing angling opportunities, outstanding scenery and diverse wildlife and vegetation. It is also a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world biosphere reserve, a designation awarded in 2004 after seven years of intensive work by a collective of cottagers, boaters, residents, First Nations representatives and organizations with support from government agencies.

Many Canadian Yachting readers have likely experienced the beauty of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands. Nestled between Vancouver Island and the mainland, this archipelago of more than 450 islands and islets offers calm seas, a gentle climate and stunning landscapes. What many visitors may not notice are the immense pressures on this much-loved area and the work of numerous conservation groups to save these fragile ecological jewels for all British Columbians and visitors.

Many newspaper headlines appeared in the spring of 2012 with these two names highlighted. The Rideau, a recently designated World Heritage Site, and the Trent Severn, with a combined age of 325 years, were designated as transportation routes until 1972 when the Federal Cabinet moved canal operations from the Department of Transport to Parks Canada. In March of 2012, during Federal budget deliberations, Parks Canada (PC) was given a budget reduction target of $29.2M over 3 years.

altRSA Insurance and the World Wildlife Fund report on emerging risks as a result of environmental change. The disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico has made abundantly clear the increasing environmental risks to our shoreline. While, as recreational boaters we are directly effected by these risks, the issues are wide ranging, extremely complicated and of importance to everyone no matter where they live, since we will all be affected. Offshore drilling is just one challenge that will have to be faced along with increased shipping and aquaculture, and of course rising sea levels.

On June 8, World Oceans Day, RSA Insurance in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a global report on the marine risks that are emerging as a result of environmental change.

altBy definition, an alien species is a plant or animal occurring in an area outside of its known natural habitat as a result of accidental or intentional introduction by human activities. An alien species is considered invasive if its introduction and spread causes harm to the environment, society or economy.

Throughout history human activities including settlement and trade have caused the introduction of aquatic invasive species (AIS) quite often to the detriment of native ecosystems. Over 200 non-native species of plant and aquatic life have become established in the Great Lakes; this number grows annually.

alt“If you work hard at keeping your marina clean, green and safe, your boaters will too. There is absolutely nothing to match the effect of leading by example” according to Hub Steenbakkers, the proprietor of Collins Bay Marina in Kingston, Ontario. “It is more than setting or enforcing rules, it is all about educating boaters in the critical role they play in maintaining the environment and setting expectations that become the social norm for behaviour.”

At Collins Bay Marina, caring for the environment is an essential part of their business.

altIn many sectors there’s a developing interest in all things environmental and the boating community is no exception. Boaters are taking more of an interest to what is happening in their cruising areas – and in “Beautiful British Columbia” there is much current interest.

High on the list is the new pollution prevention regulation under the Canada Shipping Act. The regulation caused a serious uproar before it was made into law, as it seemed to be drafted with big ships in mind rather than small vessels – and because the bureaucrats in Ottawa appeared to have ignored some major recommendations of the west coast work group.

altAnyone who has ever sailed the waters of Georgian Bay is familiar with the iconic trees that line the shore and dot the islands. Sculpted by the prevailing west winds, they stand arched and graceful yet still solid and defiant and in their struggle with the harsh climate and sparse soil scattered amidst the prehistoric granite of the Canadian Shield.

The Georgian Bay Land Trust (GBLT) was founded in 1997 to help preserve not only the famed trees of Georgian Bay but also the entire ecology of the unique archipelago that makes up the Eastern Channel and North Shore.

altThere are winners and there are losers and sometimes there’s just mud. Which to an environmentalist might be okay, if it means healthy wetlands, but to a boater mud spells disaster.

Welcome to the contentious Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River water levels issue that the International Joint Commission (IJC) is tackling. At first glance it seems, well…clear as mud. The commission is trying to balance the interests of municipal water supplies, hydro-electric power generation, environmentalists, commercial navigation, recreational boating and riparian (waterfront property owners) concerns.

altZebra muscles, lampreys, fertilizer runoff, chemicals, low water levels. The list of challenges facing the Great Lakes is a long and worrisome one. Many thousands of people depend on the health of the lakes for their livelihood and many millions are directly affected by their condition. Now the Great Lakes may be on the verge of playing host to some new and unwelcome guests. The Asian Carp are on the move and a lot of people are very worried indeed. Although the carp’s jumping antics have made it a You Tube star, it is their voracious appetite and efficient breeding that have many environmentalists, fishermen and recreational industry experts fearing the worst. That the Asian Carp represent a threat to the lakes is not in dispute, but just how much of a threat and what to do about it, is hotly contested.

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