An Inside Look at The First Year of LIME

ShoreZone Mapping Of Saint Lawrence, Alaska

The ShoreZone survey confirmed that much of the shoreline of the island is open to full power of waves from the fetch across the Bering Sea, making high energy and dynamic shores on all the outer coasts. Shore types include soaring rock cliffs rising straight up from the sea to over 600 metres, low cliffs of columnar basalt from old lava flows and 100s of kilometres of barrier sand beaches and backshore lagoons with internal recurved spits. All combinations of wave exposure and shore types, from the most mobile sediment beaches at highest wave energy to the very protected shallow water within the backshore lagoons are present on the Island, making the coastline dynamic and spatial complex. Attached biota were observed on the rocky shorelines, and deep piles of drift seaweed along the south-side of the island indicated there is likely a rich complex of benthic life there in the shallow nearshore subtidal waters. Shore fast sea ice surrounds the island for many months of the year and limits the distribution of attached biota in the intertidal zone. The upland areas of the island are treeless arctic landscape, with a marshy network of thaw melt ponds and tundra, between volcanic cinder cones and bare bedrock outcrops. Land base is less than half the size of Vancouver Island.

Washington Coastal Dungeness Crab Fishery Pilot Project

Environmental Assessment For An Offshore Wind Energy Project In B.C

As part of an initiative to build Canada’s first offshore wind project, NaiKun Wind Energy Group—a British Columbia-based renewable energy company—engaged Archipelago to perform a marine environmental assessment of the region.

Located off the coast of British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii islands in Hecate Strait, the site of the proposed NaiKun wind energy project is said to offer some of the strongest and most consistent winds anywhere in the world—ideal conditions for a renewable energy initiative of this type.

NaiKun estimates the 396MW offshore wind development would generate enough energy to power 200,000 BC homes and create up to 500 jobs during construction and 50 permanent positions thereafter; however, this region is also highly valued by residents and visitors alike for its natural beauty and unspoiled wilderness.

For this project to proceed, NaiKun would first need to complete a thorough environmental assessment in accordance with provincial and federal regulatory requirements.

Archipelago undertook the marine ecology component of this assessment, working closely with a multidisciplinary team of industry experts from Hemmera and Pottinger Gaherty Environmental Consultants.

The fact that this project involved multiple geographic locations presented a unique challenge for the assessment team; the plan called for wind turbines to be located at a remote site on Dogfish Banks, with subsea marine cables extending across Hecate Strait to the mainland near Prince Rupert and the islands of Haida Gwaii.

Additionally, the significance of the entire Dogfish Banks region to local Dungeness crab fisheries raised concerns about potential interactions with fisheries and possible impacts to the resource itself. The team needed to fully explore this issue and address these concerns within its environmental assessment.

Gathering data through surveys and sampling

The first step in this assessment was to initiate a comprehensive desktop study, and consult with local fisheries to learn more about the region in order to develop and refine the survey and sampling approaches.

Archipelago engaged the Haida Fisheries Program for survey vessel and technical support, and together they began assembling a wealth of local area knowledge from a multi–season survey and sampling program. Survey and sampling techniques included:

  • Intertidal and subtidal towed underwater video biophysical surveys of landfall sites at Tlell (Haida Gwaii) and Ridley Island (Prince Rupert);
  • Subtidal towed underwater video surveys of the wind turbine area on Dogfish Banks;
  • Subtidal fish and benthic grab sampling.

Impact assessment and compensation planning

Upon completion of the initial field component, the last stage involved:

  • Impact assessment and identification of mitigation measures;
  • Involvement in the overall environmental assessment screening process and ongoing review process involving public, agency, and First Nations participants;
  • Development of a habitat compensation plan.


With the environmental assessment complete, NaiKun was granted a provincial Environmental Assessment Certificate in 2009 from the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office for the project. Federal approval followed two years later when the project was granted a federal–level screening decision confirming that, based on the assessment findings and the implementation of appropriate mitigation measures, the project would not likely cause significant adverse environmental effects. As part of the environmental review process, NaiKun made numerous commitments to ensure an ongoing environmental management program.

The successful conclusion of this harmonized environmental review process led to federal agencies issuing the required construction and operating permits, paving the way for the construction of Canada’s first offshore wind energy project, contingent upon receiving an electricity purchase agreement from the BC Hydro and Power Authority.

As of mid–2015, having secured agreements with key suppliers and First Nations stakeholders, the NaiKun Wind project remains at an advanced stage of development, ready to begin construction within two years of receiving an electricity purchase agreement.

Identifying Marine Significant Areas In B.C

Between 1999 and 2007, Archipelago was involved in identifying marine significant areas (MSAs) throughout British Columbia. A framework concept was identified from which Archipelago could develop a planning and decision support tool to assist in the identification and mapping of MSAs.

Archipelago developed this tool based upon previous experience in identifying and mapping MSAs subject to impacts from forestry activities, and identifying MSAs as part of a resource-planning process (such as the Nootka Coastal Resource Use Plan, and the North Coast Land and Resources Management Plan).

Key features of this project included evaluating existing MSA identification, planning, and management tools. Identifying important MSA planning tool characteristics and lastly Identifying an approach to defining and mapping marine features that meet various stakeholders’ mandates and priorities.

Dockside Green Shoreline Rehabilitation

From 2007 to 2008, Archipelago provided key input on the design and implementation for shoreline rehabilitation on the Dockside Green development, and the adjacent Point Ellice Park waterfront.

Noted for its strict adherence to the principles of green building and sustainable design, Dockside Green is an award–winning 1,300,000–square–foot (120,000 m2) mixed–use community in Victoria, British Columbia. From 2007 to 2008, Archipelago helped to rehabilitate the shoreline along the Dockside Green development and the neighboring Point Ellice Park waterfront. The objectives of this rehabilitation included:

  • Improve the park shoreline characteristics and ecological function
  • Pilot the Green Shores rating system for a LEED platinum development
  • Develop a shore design using a committed environmental design and construction team


  • Remediation of a filled shore embankment with minimal hard shore construction
  • Reconstruction of an intertidal pocket beach
  • Incorporation of tidal pools into a rock headland feature
  • Enhancement of relic intertidal marsh areas
  • Removal of invasive species and planting of a functional marine riparian zone
  • A construction team that recognizes the environmental values of their endeavors


Oil Spill Response: BC Coastal Wetlands

Archipelago examined the unique challenges involved in providing an effective oil spill response within BC’s coastal and estuarine wetlands.

Although the risk of oil spills impacting British Columbia’s coastal marshes has been increasing (due in part to increased marine traffic), the assessment of oil spill impacts and treatment options for British Columbia’s coastal wetlands has largely been based upon knowledge of oil spills in wetlands outside of BC.

Wetland oiling in Skan Bay, Alaska prior to clean up (December 2004), and after oil removal (July 2005)

Upon identifying the need to improve oil spill response planning for BC coastal wetlands, Environment Canada invited Archipelago to explore the matter further. Archipelago was asked to produce an assessment that could help support oil spill response planning, countermeasure planning, and restoration strategies for BC’s coastal wetlands regions. (For more on this, see the 2006 report “Oil Spill Response for BC Coastal Wetlands“)


Key features:

  • Develop a summary of BC wetland types relevant to different spill response challenges
  • Review literature of oil spill impacts to coastal wetlands and assess applicability to BC
  • Propose a technique for assessing characteristics of BC salt marsh vegetation species that could be used to assess sensitivities of BC sites and used in spill response planning

Environmental Assessments On Natural Gas Pipelines

In 2014, Archipelago provided an environmental assessment for the marine component of a proposed natural gas transmission system planned for the northwest coast of British Columbia.

Spectra Energy has been establishing and operating natural gas pipelines throughout British Columbia for more than 50 years. Today the company moves more than 60% of the natural gas produced within BC. Most recently, Spectra Energy proposed a project to deliver gas from northeast British Columbia to a liquid natural gas (LNG) facility to be constructed near Prince Rupert.

Running approximately 860 kilometres in length, the Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Project would accommodate two large-diameter pipelines, with a total design capacity of 8.4 billion cubic feet per day. Although most of the pipeline would be on land, up to 180 kilometers would run on the seabed of Portland Inlet and Chatham Sound off the northwest coast of British Columbia.


Archipelago was asked to provide the environmental assessment for the marine component of this project. This involved a thorough technical overview of marine resources and features along the marine portion of the pipeline, and the development of sound mitigation strategies to address the environmental interactions identified by the assessment.

During this process, Archipelago provided environmental information and advisement to the engineering design team, and consulted closely with First Nations representatives and other key stakeholders. The final report examined three main components: nearshore marine habitat and ecosystems; offshore marine habitat and ecosystems; and seabed sediment and related water quality.

In November 2014, Spectra Energy’s Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission project received its Environmental Assessment Certificate from the Government of British Columbia.

Archipelago continues to work with the project team to address the specific conditions of this certificate, while preparing for the construction and operational monitoring program to follow.

Monitoring Juvenile Salmon At The Site Of A Proposed LNG Export Facility

As part of a biodiversity monitoring and assessment project near the site of a proposed liquefied natural gas export facility, Archipelago introduced a plan to monitor the health of nearby juvenile salmon communities.

When preparing to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility at Bish Cove, near Kitimat, British Columbia, Chevron Canada and Apache Canada initiated a Biodiversity Monitoring and Assessment Program (BMAP) to gather information about the status and trends of habitats, ecosystems and species at that location before, during and after construction.

As one of the BMAP member organizations (along with the University of Northern British Columbia’s Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation, Education and Sustainability), Archipelago was invited to design and implement two research protocols: an Eelgrass Community Monitoring Program, and a Juvenile Salmon Monitoring Program.


Juvenile salmon monitoring program

The first objective of the Juvenile Salmon Monitoring Program was to determine the current distribution and habitat use of juvenile pink and chum salmon, and their potential predators in Bish Cove. Secondly the program needed to develop methodologies to sample light levels in the nearshore environment, and assess the effects of the in-water structures on migratory routing direction and behaviour. To assess these factors, Archipelago employed a range of survey methods:

  • Beach seine surveys
  • Purse seine surveys
  • Hook-and-line surveys
  • Avian and mammal point count surveys and opportunistic sightings
  • Above water visual surveys (boat-based surveys)
  • Below water visual surveys (camera trap)
  • Water quality, with respect to light levels (auto-logging light data loggers)

The Juvenile Salmon Monitoring Program was successfully implemented and completed in 2013, and a second year of data collection was completed in 2014.

In achieving these goals, the Juvenile Salmon Monitoring Program provides value-added information that could help identify improved methods for protecting juvenile salmon in nearshore industrial development areas. More specifically, this information will be used to examine whether the effects of overwater structures (shading and artificial light) significantly reduce the survival of the juvenile chum and pink salmon that use the cove during outmigration.

For more information on this project, visit the Chevron Canada Kitimat LNG project page