Over 127 tonnes of marine debris was removed from B.C.’s shoreline as part of the province’s largest coastal cleanup of the central coast and Queen Charlotte Sound shoreline.
“For the first time in my lifetime, the beaches of some of our most sacred sites are free of plastic, garbage and fishing gear, thanks to this initiative,” said Doug Neasloss, stewardship director, Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation.
“Our lands and waters are lighter now — and the benefits will flow beyond our community and guests, to the wildlife who depend on the health of the shoreline.”
The cleanup is part of the first project under the province’s Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative.
The effort, led by the Small Ship Tour Operators Association of B.C. (SSTOA) in partnership with Indigenous nations and local communities, provided employment to 180 crew members and Indigenous communities’ members, according to the province.
“The extraordinary work done by SSTOA and their partners has brought into sharp focus what can be accomplished when we work together toward creative solutions,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy.
“This project is one of many in our CleanBC plastics action plan, which includes a number of initiatives to prevent plastic waste, divert more waste from landfills and create a cleaner, better future for everyone.”
The SSTOA, supported by the Wilderness Tourism Association of B.C. (WTA), prepared the final report, Marine Debris Removal Initiative 2020 – Coastal Environmental Protection, Employment, and Economic Recovery During the COVID-19 Pandemic, to provide a detailed accounting of clean-up activities.
“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, SSTOA member and co-lead of the marine debris removal initiative.
An additional $1.33 million will support the Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative (CFN), which will see shoreline clean-up projects this spring in key food gathering areas and provide training and jobs for community members.