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

Books. (Unsplash)
LIBRARY: Who decides what makes a good book?

Agassiz librarian Sharie Hertzog shares what she thinks makes a good book in her latest column

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of March 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Retired Mission teacher and star CFL kicker charged for assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Alan Sweet taught in school district for 10 years, investigators seeking further witnesses

B.C. RCMP Lower Mainland District officer, Asst. Commissioner Stephen Thatcher presents RCMP blankets to (from left) Chief James Hobart, Chief Maureen Chapman, Chief Derek Epp and Chief Mark Point. (RCMP)
Historic agreement between Fraser Valley FN communities, RCMP to expand Indigenous role in policing

Community Safety Agreement builds relationship of ‘trust, communication and prevention,’ says Chief

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read