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

Community Foundation North Okanagan is now accepting applications for its annual Smart and Caring Community Grants program. (CFNO photo)
Cash available for North Okanagan non-profits

Community Foundation North Okanagan seeks applicants for its annual Smart and Caring Grants program

The current B.C. Men’s curling champions, Rick Sawatsky (Vernon and now living and working in Kelowna, from left), Andrew Nerpin (Kelowna), Jim Cotter (Vernon) and Steve Laycock (Saskatoon), have yet to find the win column at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier in Calgary. (Black Press - file photo)
B.C. looking for Brier victory

Team B.C. falls to 0-2 Sunday, March 7, with 10-7 loss to Wild Card 1 entry from Manitoba

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Coldstream’s Kalamalka Secondary has teamed up with Globox on a fundraising raffle for its graduating class of 2021. (Photo supplied)
Coldstream secondary school grads glowing over fundraiser

Globox giving away five gift boxes worth about $6,000 in raffle, proceeds to Kal’s Class of ‘21

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
One of two Kelowna General Hospital COVID-19 outbreaks declared over

One outbreak declared over after two deaths, seven cases; another outbreak remains ongoing in the hospital

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna care home after 12 cases noted

Two staff members and 10 residents at Cottonwoods Care Centre have tested positive for COVID-19

There is no true picture of how many youth in Penticton are experiencing housing instability or true homelessness. The Foundry and the city of Penticton are trying to find that out.
How many youth are experiencing homelessness in Penticton?

Foundry Penticton and the City have partnered on a youth survey open until March 13

Chelsea Ishizuka was borned and raised in Penticton but has now moved to Japan. When she found out there was a popular restaurant there named after Penticton, she had to go check it out. Here she is with the owner (right). (Facebook)
Popular restaurant in Japan named after city of Penticton

A Pentictonite now living in Tokyo discovered the eatery and the history behind its name

(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

Most Read