The Centre is modelled after similar and successful facilities: the Ucluelet Aquarium Society, the Discovery Passage SeaLife Society in Campbell River and the St. John’s Aquarium Incorporated in Petty Harbour Newfoundland.
The Society has secured a specially equipped rented facility at the Gibsons Public Market in Gibsons BC. Gibsons Community Building Society (“GCBS”), a not-for-profit organization, developed and operates the Gibsons Public Market and was initially the driving force behind this initiative to create the Centre.
On March 17th 2017 the Gibsons Marine Education Centre (Society) was formed to advance education by establishing and operating a public marine education centre on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia and to protect the environment for the benefit of the public by undertaking projects that sustain the marine ecosystem of Howe Sound, British Columbia and beyond.
The educational focus for the Society and the Centre is Howe Sound and its marine life. The Coastal Ocean Research Institute (CORI) was established by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre to focus on the health of this important body of water. According to CORI, in the last century, the Sound witnessed rapid industrial development, pollution and significant environmental degradation. Most of the damaging activities have been curtailed and the effects of pollution mitigated.
Today, Howe Sound is showing signs of ecological recovery and experiencing rapid growth and development. Recent observations of herring and anchovies, dolphins, whales, and some salmon species are promising. In parallel with this environmental recovery has been the rise of citizen science and community-led habitat restoration in an era of declining government capacity. CORI concludes that nature is proving resilient, but as we go forward, we need to foster a stewardship of Howe Sound that shows we have learned from our past mistakes. Keeping our coasts and oceans healthy starts with learning about what is happening--a key focus for our Centre.
The oceans are the life support system for all life above and below water.
- The oceans are our planets lungs, providing 50% of earths oxygen
- The oceans are a global food source, provided more than 2.9 billion people with almost 20% of their intake of animal protein (UN Food and Agriculture Organization)
- The ocean constitutes over 90% of the habitable space on the planet (UNESCO)
- An estimated 50-80% of all life on earth is found under the ocean surface (UNESCO)
- Yet, only 5% of the ocean has been explored to date (NOAA)
Activities in support our environmental purpose
Beyond educational activities, the Society will also conduct conservation projects that engage the Sunshine Coast community (youth and families, schools and residents) in protecting our delicate Howe Sound ecosystems.
The Society’s goal is to conduct at least three community-engagement projects every year. Society staff will work with Centre volunteers to develop and engaging community initiatives that foster an understanding of current issues facing Howe Sound, and fosters voluntary behaviour changes needed to protect our marine ecosystems.
Projects will take place across the Sunshine Coast harbours and waters, on beaches and where we have salmon bearing streams require habitat rehabilitation.
Examples of projects may include:
- supporting herring populations by wrapping the creosote pilings of major wharf installations on the Coast to protect the eggs laid on the smooth surface of the pilings
- removing pollution from beaches and plastic from our waters to avoid the release of millions of tiny micro plastics from reaching the garbage patches and other areas of the ocean that threaten fish, seabirds and sea mammals
- educating boat owners of the ecological damage done by anchors and the importance of fixed moorage
- buoys to protect eelgrass beds (critical for herring production)
- monitoring salmon streams for healthy habitat and removing obstructions impeding the movement of fish
Our focus is to ensure that our projects improve the conditions that support sustainability of our local ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations relying on our local waters for their food supply, livelihood, recreation and enjoyment.