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

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

Maple Ridge and Langley Township have made the Smart21 list.
Virtual conference co-hosts Maple Ridge and Langley Township make list of Smart21

21 communities shortlisted for Intelligent Community of the Year after online event

Clean Up Aldergrove will be picking litter on 200 Street this Sunday, Feb. 28. (Special to The Star)
Organizer of litter clean-up event in Langley looking for volunteers

Earth Ninja group will be tackling 200th Street on Sunday, Feb. 28, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Cascades Casino in Langley City has taken steps to prepare for reopening, whenever it is allowed. (Tanya Gabara/Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: While they wait to reopen, Cascades casino in Langley City is preparing

Safety precautions have been implemented to prepare for a return to business, whenever it happens

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Shaelene Keeler Bell. (Facebook)
Candlelight vigil planned for Chilliwack mother missing for four weeks

Virtual event to ‘spread some light’ for 23-year-old Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read