Golder Associates Ltd contacted CRM regarding the development of a reliable method for monitoring and verifying predictions made by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Environmental Impact Statement for Roberts Bank Terminal 2. Specifically, the project required a demonstrable method for monitoring changes in the distribution and abundance of Ulva (“sea lettuce”) in the area to mitigate the potential consequences to the Dungeness crab population that requires it to thrive. After analysis of the methodology used in 2020 and the data collected as a result, and with additional consultation with local Indigenous groups (including Tsawwassen First Nation, Musqueam Indian Band, and Lyackson First Nation), CRM was tasked with developing a predictive model for detecting changes in Ulva abundance using unmanned aerial vehicles (“drones”).
After a 4 week initial study, involving 4 preliminary flights and the collection of a complimentary ground truthing dataset, CRM demonstrated the efficacy of UAV technology and detection of Ulva using a field of artificial intelligence (AI) called Computer Vision. Additionally, CRM also provided some suggestions for further improving the dataset in future surveys, to better meet the requirements of verifying the assumptions of the Environmental Impact Statement and to provide ongoing transparancy and assurance to local Indigenous groups that this vital part of the ecosystem surrounding Roberts Bank Terminal 2 is preserved and protected.