New technologies at the service of the natives

The T’Sou-ke Indigenous Nation, located in the south of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has teamed up with a new technology company called MarineLabs. Thanks to their smart buoys, they will be able to collect a range of data on the impact of climate change on the waters where it gathers food.

About 18 months ago, T’Sou-ke First Nation approached MarineLabs, a Victorian company that collects real-time ocean data.

A number of problems have arisen in the Souk, one of the areas where members of this community hunt and fish. It is a sheltered bay about twenty kilometers west of Victoria.

This pool is very often visited by representatives of indigenous peoples. Photo: Rohit Joseph/CBC/Rohit Joseph/CBC

Climate change has taken its toll on the region, with rising air and sea temperatures killing marine life, including important traditional food sources for the Aboriginal people.

In addition, severe storms are becoming more frequent. So community leaders want to be better prepared.

In addition, in recent decades, abandoned ships, mining waste and shipping have polluted the water and affected shellfish production.

Also, for example, an increase in extreme heat can change the chemistry of the water, which affects the marine ecosystem and the creatures that the T’Su-ke have always gathered for food. A 2019 BC Department of the Environment report recommends regular monitoring of pond water.

Yellow buoy in the water.

A smart buoy from MarineLabs that collects a range of data ranging from wind speed and wave size to boat activity in the surrounding waters. Photo: Rohit Joseph/CBC/Rohit Joseph/CBC

Now MarineLabs hopes to get data from the area using smart buoys with sensors to determine wind speed, wave size, number of boats or ships passing, water temperature and salinity.

Science is necessarysaid Gordon Plains, chief of the T’Sou-ke nation. Knowing the history of what has happened over the past few years can really tell us where we are. This will lay the foundation for the futurehe added.

Plains, who also goes by the name Hyakwacha, hopes the buoys will help detect the rise in shipping, identify existing environmental issues and determine what his First Nation can do to adapt to climate change.

Behind the dry plants, we see houses along the beach, strewn with pieces of wood.

Aborigines are very attached to their land. Photo: Radio-Canada/Laurie Dufresne

This could have a negative impact on who we are and how we live on this coast.Mr Plains said.

Scott Beatty, CEO of MarineLabs, said there are currently 41 sensors along the coast of Canada that are similar to his company’s but generally older.

Ocean statistics are changing, and climate change is only making things worseMr Beatty said.

Mr. Beatty refers to the case of the container ship Zim Kingston, which lost dozens of containers in rough seas and burst into flames in the fall of 2021. According to him, if the crew had access to this kind of data, they could have avoided a disaster.

It’s about being proactive and having more data in case of a spill.He finished.

Ryan Chamberland, maritime manager for T’Sou-ke Nation, said he would like other communities and the government to invest in similar projects.

This really helps protect long-term investment in these fisheries and access to food and ceremonial fisheries.he considers.

Based on text by Courtney Dixon of the CBC.