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Blog

Insights into Urban Ecosystem Management from a Practitioner's Perspective 

Salmon Safe - Urban Site Certification Program

Lucy Foley

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What is Salmon-Safe?

Salmon-Safe is a third-party certification program that recognizes and rewards responsible, eco-friendly management practices that protect Pacific salmon habitat and enhance water quality on agricultural and urban lands.

Founded in 1997 by the Oregon-based Pacific Rivers Council, Salmon-Safe is a non-profit accreditation program aimed at maintaining and enhancing salmonid habitat in the Pacific Northwest. This market-based mechanism allows landowners and land managers to seek independent endorsement in the form of certification of their management practices, provided they protect water quality and restore habitat. Since the program’s inception, Salmon-Safe has become a leading regional eco-label with more than 95,000 acres of farm and urban lands certified across the Pacific Northwest. The Salmon-Safe retail campaign has been featured in 300 supermarkets and natural food stores, delivering important marketplace benefits to certified suppliers and landowners.

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In 2010, the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Fraser Basin Council began working in partnership with Salmon-Safe U.S. to pilot the program in BC. Since then, it has expanded to vineyards and other specialty crops, certifying more than 10,000 acres of B.C. agricultural land. In 2013, Salmon-Safe B.C. launched Salmon-Safe Communities to recognize and certify urban properties and to promote the protection of Pacific salmon within urban context.

How can an urban building be safe for salmon?

Urban developments, including commercial, industrial and residential activities, can have long-term impacts on fish and other aquatic species, even if they are not directly adjacent to a stream or waterway. In rainy Vancouver, contaminants from vehicle and industrial pollution, metal and concrete surfaces and hazardous and waste materials can accumulate in rainwater and flow through storm drains into rivers and marine habitats. In fact, stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces is the largest non-point source of pollution in urban areas.

Land and property owners can help protect salmon habitat and water quality by preventing runoff from their buildings and parking lots from entering streams and storm drains. To help reduce stormwater runoff, managers can use permeable surfaces like raingardens, vegetation buffers and permeable paving to capture and infiltrate water. Stormwater can also be collected and used as grey-water to reduce dependence on municipal water-sources. Managers can also help promote healthy salmon habitats by restoring impacted streams and waterways, reducing the use of harmful pesticides in landscaped areas, and using drought-resistant native plants to reduce water-use.

How can I help?

If you are interested in helping Salmon-Safe achieve a healthier, cleaner environment for our vital salmon stocks, consider seeking a Salmon-Safe Certification for your farm, business or development. This certification will allow you to join innovative and pioneering companies like Nike, MEC and YVR, and promote your brand as an eco-conscious community member taking extra effort to protect our shared resources. As a consumer, you can choose Salmon-Safe certified brands and learn more about the salmon-safe program at https://salmonsafe.ca/

Theraesa Coyle