Barrels of fuel to children’s toys: B.C. shoreline cleanup nets 127 tonnes of marine debris

Crews with the $3.5-million provincially funded Marine Debris Removal Initiative remove discarded and lost gear from B.C.’s central coast in the summer of 2020. (Photo supplied by the Small Ship Tour Operators Association of B.C.)Crews with the $3.5-million provincially funded Marine Debris Removal Initiative remove discarded and lost gear from B.C.’s central coast in the summer of 2020. (Photo supplied by the Small Ship Tour Operators Association of B.C.)
Crews with the $3.5-million provincially funded Marine Debris Removal Initiative remove discarded and lost gear from B.C.’s central coast in the summer of 2020. (Photo supplied by Simon Agar)
Crews with the $3.5-million provincially funded Marine Debris Removal Initiative celebrate a huge haul of garbage from B.C.’s central coast in the summer of 2020. (Photo supplied by the Small Ship Tour Operators Association of B.C.)
Crews with the $3.5-million provincially funded Marine Debris Removal Initiative celebrate a huge haul of garbage from B.C.’s central coast in the summer of 2020. (Photo supplied by the Small Ship Tour Operators Association of B.C.)Crews with the $3.5-million provincially funded Marine Debris Removal Initiative celebrate a huge haul of garbage from B.C.’s central coast in the summer of 2020. (Photo supplied by the Small Ship Tour Operators Association of B.C.) Crews with the $3.5-million provincially funded Marine Debris Removal Initiative celebrate a huge haul of garbage from B.C.’s central coast in the summer of 2020. (Photo supplied by the Small Ship Tour Operators Association of B.C.)

Roughly 127 tonnes of garbage and debris has been removed from B.C.’s coastal shorelines as part of an innovative pandemic response from out-of-work marine tour operators in the central coast and Queen Charlotte Sound.

Developed and led by the Small Ship Tour Operators Association of B.C., in partnership with Indigenous Nations and local communities, the $3.5-million provincially-funded cleanup provided employment to 180 people from the tourism sector.

Unprecedented in scale, the Marine Debris Removal Initiative was carried out in two, 21-day expeditions in August and September to areas where marine debris have never been attempted due to severe logistical challenges.

Crews encountered “enormous” amounts of derelict fishing gear, polystyrene foam and plastic beverage bottles, but also almost every other form of plastic imaginable. This included footwear, hockey equipment, balls, shipwrecks, airplane fuselage, forestry equipment refrigerators, scientific equipment, children’s toys and full barrels of fuel and containers labelled ‘poison’.

“This initiative achieved many milestone results, not the least of which is identifying the scope of the debris issue, which is significantly impacting the health of our oceans, coastline and wildlife,” said Russell Markel, member of the tour operators association and co-lead of the initiative.

“We are proud of the collaborative work that allowed this project to come together in record time but continue to be gravely concerned about the future of our oceans and natural spaces if similar clean-up initiatives do not continue.”

Ocean plastic pollution is universally accepted as a major threat to wildlife, biodiversity and ecosystem function. The ocean-current system subjects B.C.’s outer coast to a slow but persistent delivery of marine debris from across the Pacific Ocean.

The project was funded through the provincial government’s $10-billion COVID-19 economic recovery plan, dovetailing into the Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative (CCCW).

Wuikinuxv, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, and Gitga’at First Nations all took part, collecting debris in areas close to their communities and in places that held cultural importance or were ecologically sensitive.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Fisheries and Oceans CanadaOcean Protection

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Castlegar’s Gabrielle Herle (right) will be one of the speakers at the conference. She is seen here with Wendy Gaskill from Chinook Scaffolding accepting their Contractor of the Year Award in 2019 from the Builders Code Champion Awards. Photo: Submitted
Girls in STEAM and Leadership Conference offered free for all girls in the Kootenay Boundary

Virtual conference for girls in grades 8 to 12 will be taking place on March 8

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Interior Health reported 43 new COVID-19 cases in the region Feb. 23, 2021 and no additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
43 new cases of COVID reported in Interior Health

No new deaths, Williams Lake outbreak over

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

Most Read