Howe Sound sea life still at risk from contaminants, report says
Pollutants from old mine still linger
The sea life in Howe Sound is still vulnerable to contamination from shipping, fishing and development in the region — despite a "remarkable" ecological recovery over the past few decades, according to a new report.
The Vancouver Aquarium's Coastal Ocean Research Institute (CORI) said pollutants from the old Britannia Mine still linger in the area.
Remediation efforts have been underway since 2001, bringing some good news: pink salmon populations are rising and whale counts are the highest they've been since 2003.
However, CORI said Friday that more needs to be done.
About 99 per cent of the vulnerable ecosystems in the sound land outside of protected areas, the report said, leaving them vulnerable.
The report also found that the majority of species and habitats in the sound are still "in trouble." Nearly half are in critical danger, while the rest show low numbers.
More than a dozen glass sponge reefs are also in danger.
Britannia Mine pollution
The Britannia Mine, which operated between 1904 and 1974, caused between four and 40 million litres of acidic mine drainage to leak into Howe Sound every day, according to the CORI report.
Contamination was so severe that the site was once dubbed the worst source of heavy metal pollution in B.C.
Today, metals are still "leaching" into the water — although researchers don't know where the contaminants are coming from.
The report said remediation and risk assessments are still ongoing.