Coastal Resource Inventory


The Corporate Information Services (Corporate Information Services) is responsible for the biophysical coastal inventory of B.C.'s 29,000 km of shoreline. This inventory is an ongoing multi-year project which collects and interprets coastal information, which is later used as baseline data for coastal planning and management in B.C. The coastal resources inventory consists of

  • a biophysical inventory of coastlines using a combination of helicopter video and field sampling,
  • the acquisition of biological and human use information, which includes fisheries, marine flora and fauna, and human use themes (i.e. ferry routes and anchorage's), and
  • the creation of detailed 1:40000 coastlines.

These three datasets are used to create a digital baseline inventory in (ARC/INFO) Mercator Datum NAD 83 projection. This inventory is then used as one of the components of the Coastal Resources and Oil Spill Response Atlases and coastal zone management projects throughout the province. The datasets are also applied to regional projects, including the Land and Resource Management Plans (LRMPs), the Georgia Basin Initiative (GBI) and Salmon Aquaculture Review.

The following sections briefly outline the three components of the coastal resource inventory.

Digital Coastline Generation

The Coastal Resources Inventory is fit to a high tide 1:40000 scale coastline generated especially for this inventory. The shoreline is digitally created using a combination of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) and SPOT satellite data, Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) charts varying in scale from 1:20000 to 1:250000 and the BC Terrain Resource Information System (TRIM) control points.

Biophysical Shoreline Mapping

Biophysical shoreline mapping consists low level oblique video collection from a helicopter and a field survey program to assist in the interpretation of the imagery. The helicopter crew is comprised of a biologist who's comments are recorded on one of the video's audio tracks, a geologist who operates the camera and narrates on the other audio track, and a navigator who operates the GPS and records the aircraft's track on flight logs. In addition to the video imagery, the biologist is responsible for the collection of 35mm still photographs to assist in interpreting the imagery.

During video capture, another field crew is responsible for the in situ sampling of representative shoreline morphologies found throughout the study areas. Detailed species lists are compiled at these sites, and the results clustered to determine species assemblages and association which can be linked back to species that can be seen from the air and on the imagery. Indicator species that occur together are grouped into "bio-bands" which are generalized descriptions of macro biota that can be identified on the video.

Field verification survey on west coast of Vancouver Island (left), and helicopter video installation (right).

Each videotape is reviewed using the narration channels and field survey results, and each homogenous linear length of shoreline becomes a shoreunit on the 1:40000 coastline. These shoreunits represent 34 coastal classes, which are defined on substrate type, intertidal width and intertidal slope. Included with the shoreunits are intertidal/nearshore species assemblages and biomass estimates.

Biological and Human Use Inventory

In addition to the creation of shoreunits, biophysical and human use information are also collected for the area. Fisheries datasets are collected using Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and provincial aboriginal, recreational and commercial catch statistics as well as interviews with DFO fisheries resource officers. For non fisheries biological data, species mapping is accomplished using existing studies and interviews with marine and coastal experts. Human use information is acquired using various tourism inventory datasets, interviews with tourism experts and existing tourism publications. Biological and human-use dataset descriptions are given below.

Birds: Alcids, Black Oystercatchers, Great Blue Herons, Cormorants, Dabbing Ducks, Diving Ducks, Eagles, Geese, Gulls, Loons and Grebes, Shorebirds, Marbled Murrelets, Other Shorebirds, Other Pelagic Birds.

Marine Mammals: Dall's Porpoises, Gray Whales, Harbour Porpoises, Harbour Seals, Humpback Whale, Killer Whale, Pacific White Sided Dolphins, Sealions, Minke Whales, Sea Otter, Northern Fur Seal, Striped Dolphin, Risso's Dolphin, Common Dolphin, False Killer Whale, Short Finned Pilot Whale, Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Northern Elephant Seal.

Marine Plants: Giant Kelp, Bull Kelp, Eelgrass.

Commercial, Recreational, Aboriginal Fisheries: Chinook Salmon, Chum Salmon, Coho Salmon, Pink Salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Cutthroat Trout, Steelhead Trout, Dolly Varden Char, White Sturgeon, Eulachon, Pacific Herring, Surf Smelt, Lingcod, English Sole, Starry Flounder, Pacific Halibut, Big Skate, Copper Rockfish, Yellowtail Rockfish, Yelloweye Rockfish, Quillback Rockfish, Butter Clam, Littleneck Clam, Manila Clam, Horse Clam, Cockle, Geoduck Clam, Soft-shell Clam, Pacific Oyster, Native Oyster, Pink Scallop, Spiny Scallop Weathervane Scallop, Rock Scallop, Blue Mussel, Northern Abalone, Opal Squid, Giant Pacific Octopus, Sea Cucumber, Red Sea Urchin, Green Sea Urchin, Gooseneck Barnacle, Coonstripe Shrimp, Humpback Shrimp, Prawn, Dungeness Crab, Red Rock Crab.

Human use themes: Fish Processors, Sportfishing lodges, Sportfishing overnight charters, Sportfishing day charters, Marinas and small craft harbours, Coastal cruising, SCUBA diving, Kayaking, Coastal accommodation, Cottage areas, Special recreation and tourism activities, Whale watching and wilderness tours, Other recreation resources, Other tourism resources, Log booming areas, Marine transportation industries, Communities, Public wharves and boat launches, Marine industry.


Last Updated: 06.06.2006