Conservation Organizations: Spotlight on Canadian Marine and Freshwater Groups

By January 17, 2013 Ocean Solutions

There are so many volunteer, non-profit, and non-governmental organizations out there. Canada has plenty. Below is a short-list of key organization you may not have heard of, but provide outstanding opportunities to participate in conservation!

National Organizations


CIDA is operated by the Canadian federal government. Its mission is to lead Canada’s international effort to help people living in poverty. CIDA supports and provides resources to achieve meaningful, sustainable results and engage in policy development in Canada and integrenadarnationally to help our country, and others, reach development objectives. One of CIDA’s cross-cutting themes is to increase global environmental sustainability, which is integrated into all of its programs and policies. Not unsurprisingly, you may expect that CIDA supports projects promoting ocean and ocean resource conservation. And you are right! One example is Carriacou, a small island off the coast of Venezuela,  which is part of the tri-island nation of Grenada. In Carriacou, CIDA provided assistance to a small non-governmental organization KIDO Ecological Research Station, whose mission is to “To preserve the natural ecosystems, arts, heritage, and encourage sustainable development of the Southern Grenadines through environmental education, social development, scientific research and eco-tourism.”

CIDA supports Canadians who are looking to donate to worthwhile causes and volunteer or study abroad. Check out the website below to see how you can get involved! Want to participate? Click here!


Have you ever driven by a river in your city and seen a bunch of people on the riverbanks planting trees, or hammering logs into place? It may well have been volunteers with Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC). This organization began in 1972 in an effort to “conserve, protect and restore Canada’s freshwater ecosystems and their cold water resources for current and future generations”.  TUC uses a science based appryelloworadoach for restoration and conservation with the help of a dedicated staff and strong volunteer base. They operate in many cities in Canada and have large chapters in Alberta and Ontario. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in aquatic conservation this group is a great place to meet experts in the field! Many government and academic scientists are members and can often be found along the river bank directing and participating in events! One engaging and successful project is TUC’s Yellow Fish Road. Yellow Fish Road gives kids the opportunity to get involved in protecting their local rivers, streams, and lakeshores.

Now is the time to get to know your local TUC volunteer organizers so you can join the fun in the summer of 2013! Find your local chapter here and get involved today!


Project Seahorse is a non-profit science based marine conservation organization that operates out of the University of British Columbia. They are “committed to the conservation and sustainable use of the world’s coastal marine ecosystems. We generate cutting-edge research and turn our findings into highly effective conservation interventions. We collaborate with other researchers, governments, and local communities.” You may be thinking ‘Seahorses. They are neat… but it’s just one group of species. How does Project Seahorse promote overall ocean conservation?

Well, the organization attains broad conservation goals by studying the habitat (water quality as well as physical habitat) necessary for several threatened species of seahorses; the same habitat where many other species live. By understanding the habitat needs of seahorses and fighting for their protection, all of the animals and plants in that area also benefit, just like when a marine protected area focuses on shark conservation (see our blog on Sharks Saved in Marine Protected Area?).  Some of these other species may not get protection on their own because they are not known to be threatened or endangered.  Many species of seashores are found in the coastal waters of our oceans, an area in desperate need of protection, restoration, and commitment to sustainable development.

There are several ways you can get involved with Project Seahorse! Check out their page here!

Ontario Organizations


Do you live in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)  of Ontario? Have you ever wanted to get out and clean up your local river or stream? Have you ever felt the need to plant vegetation along a barren river bank, or wanted to restore the in-water habitat in your favorite stream? Ontario Streams, a local non-governmental conservation organization, may be the volunteer opportunity you’ve been looking for.  Ontario Streams was established in 1995 and is dedicated to the conservation, rehabilitation and monitoring of streams and wetlands through education and community involvement. They are involved in the Atlantic Salmon Restoration project for Lake Ontario, several restoration projects in the watersheds of the GTA, invasive species monitoring, as well as participating in the program ‘Save the Redside Dace’ a threatened cold-water minnow species once abundant in the rivers and streams of the GTA.

If you’d like to get out and help restore and protect the rivers and streams in your backyard, connect with Ontario Streams today here!


Have you ever wanted to be a scientist? Now, with Citizen Scientist, you can! Imagine collecting fish, benthos (little invertebrates that live in the sediments of rivers, streams and lakes), and habitat data! You can also help enter and analyze the data. Citizen Scientists is a non-profit organization that monitors the aquatic community in the Rouge River watershed, in the GTA of Ontario. Citizen Scientistsci has been training volunteers in ecological monitoring since 2001. Leaders and volunteers follow the provincially standardized monitoring protocol for small streams, called the Ontario Streams Assessment Protocol (OSAP). Using a standardized protocol allows scientists to compare the data across years to see if there have been any changes. This is very useful when we want to see if our restoration efforts are improving the fish community and overall health of the stream.

If you want to try your hand at electrofishing to help monitor the fish community in a tributary stream of the Rouge, count salamanders in Rouge Park, or collect benthic bugs and identify them, Citizen Scientist is the organization for you! See how you can get involved here!

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