Shoreline cleanup nets 425 tonnes of trash

THOUSANDS of kilograms of debris, including styrofoam, plastic bottles, nets, rope, abandoned boats and tires, have been removed from B.C.’s shoreline as several Clean Coast, Clean Waters (CCCW) projects wrap up their operations, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy announced on Wednesday.

Most of the debris collected is recyclable and will be sent for processing at the Ocean Legacy Foundation, which is also undertaking a CCCW clean-up project of its own. Marine debris needs to be processed in a specialized facility, as much of the material recovered has degraded due to the time it has spent in the ocean. The marine debris is transformed into pellets that can be used to create new plastic products. It is important to recycle and repurpose this material as much as possible to keep it out of landfills.

“The Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative is about getting plastic waste and marine debris out of the water and off our shores,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “It is also about creating healthier coastal communities by keeping the waste out of our landfills. The work by our partners to reclaim, recycle and reprocess plastics is part of the CleanBC pathway to a healthier environment and a better future for people in our province.”

Projects undertaken by the Small Ship Tour Operators Association – Wilderness Tourism Association, the Ocean Legacy Foundation and the Coastal Restoration Society (which is still underway) have removed more than 425 tonnes of marine debris so far this year. It builds on last year’s work, bringing the total to more than 550 tonnes.

The CCCW initiative is part of the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan. Its goal is to address plastic pollution. The initiative also is part of B.C.’s $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan. StrongerBC protects people’s health and livelihoods, while supporting businesses and communities.

Small Ship Tour Operators Association – Wilderness Tourism Association (SSTOA – WTA)

This year, the SSTOA – WTA completed the cleanup of 306 kilometres of shoreline and collected more than 210 tonnes of marine debris between May and June 2021. Nets and ropes accounted for 42% of the debris, and 60% of the items were recyclable. The project created 111 jobs for people in the tourism industry and 69 jobs for people in Indigenous coastal communities. Its Indigenous partners were Kitasoo/Xai’xais, Gitga’at, Gitxaala and Heiltsuk.

The SSTOA – WTA received $3.5 million in Clean Coast, Clean Waters (CCCW) funding.

Coastal Restoration Society (CRS)

CRS partnered with the Hesquiaht First Nation, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (pronounced You-thlew-ilth-uhht) and the T’Sou-ke Nation for three clean-up projects. The Hesquiaht Shoreline Clean Up removed 30 tonnes of debris from the Hesquiaht peninsula on the western coast of Vancouver Island. More than nine tonnes of plastic floats, two tonnes of recyclable styrofoam and approximately 14,000 plastic water bottles were sorted and sent for disposal, with the vast majority of collected debris recycled.

The CRS – Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ partnership targeted derelict vessels around Ucluelet. Together, they have removed six abandoned boats, with another three targeted for removal. This equals about 100 tonnes of debris, of which 90 tonnes has been packed or removed. They have also drained 1,533 litres (405 gallons) of diesel from potentially unstable fuel tanks. Watch a video of the cleanup:

T’Sou-ke Harbour Shoreline Clean Up, a partnership between the CRS and the T’Sou-ke Nation, cleaned up 40 kilometres of shoreline around Sooke. Ten tonnes of debris was collected and removed, with 85% of it sent for recycling. This project also created 16 jobs. Watch a video of the T’Sou-ke Harbour Shoreline Clean Up:

The CRS received $2.5 million in CCCW funding.

Ocean Legacy Foundation

The Ocean Legacy Foundation removed 75 tonnes of debris from 300 kilometres of shoreline in the Central Salish Sea area. In addition to the removal of marine debris, the Central Salish Sea Clean Up project has focused on creating jobs in rural communities and fostering relationships with coastal Indigenous communities. This project created 120 jobs.

The Ocean Legacy Foundation received $1.5 million in CCCW funding.

Songhees Development Corporation

The clean-up project undertaken by the Songhees Development Corporation, which aims to remove up to 100 derelict vessels around Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, is still in progress.

The Songhees Development Corporation received $2 million in CCCW funding.