Paddlers from the Songhees First Nation will provide free interpretive canoe rides on the Gorge Waterway as part of World Oceans Day celebrations at Esquimalt Gorge Park on June 8. Photo contributed

Gorge Waterway the focus of Ocean’s Day event in Esquimalt

Songhees paddlers to guide free interpretive tours of local waterway

Tim Collins/Victoria News

If nothing changes and we continue on our current path, by 2050 the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish, by weight.

That’s according to a report from the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. It’s one of the reasons why, at the urging of Canada, the United Nations declared June 8 World Oceans Day in 2010.

Since that time a variety of local organizations have joined in to mark the day and raise awareness about the importance of protecting our waterways, watersheds and oceans.

This Saturday (June 3) between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., the World Fisheries Trust and the Township of Esquimalt join forces to host a World Oceans Day event at Esquimalt Gorge Park.

“A lot of people don’t tend to recognize the Gorge Waterway as a part of the ocean, but of course the watershed and urban waterways like the Gorge are an important part of the ocean’s ecosystem,” said Trust spokesperson Annie Oliver. The first step in protecting the Gorge ecosystem is for people to recognize it as a part of a much larger system, she added.

To that end, her group and Esquimalt are combining efforts with the Songhees Nation to engage, entertain and educate the public about this fragile urban waterway.

The Songhees people will be leading free, guided canoe tours for the public, where they will point out the ecological features of the Gorge Waterway and indicate places with historical significance.

The event will also feature guided interpretive walks of the waterway, as well as “touch tanks” to allow children and adults alike to get up close and personal with some of the living creatures that make the Gorge their home.

“Ensuring a healthy ocean starts in our own backyard, by raising awareness about how we can change our daily activities to improve our marine waters and protect the coho salmon, Pacific herring, cutthroat trout, Olympia oyster and a multitude of other marine life that still calls the Gorge home,” explained Oliver.

The event will also feature food trucks, live entertainment, crafts and games. More information can be found at facebook.com/worldfisheriestrust.

editor@vicnews.com

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