B.C.’s largest coastal marine debris cleanup has resulted in over 127-tonnes of marine debris removed from B.C.’s central coast and Queen Charlotte Sound shorelines, according to the Government of British Columbia.

This cleanup is part of the first project under the 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, supported B.C.’s economic recovery efforts. It provided employment to 180 crew members and Indigenous communities’ members. It also aided a tourism sector that had its entire 2020 season cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.econom

“The extraordinary work done by small ship tour operators 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 a final report to provide a detailed accounting of clean-up activities: what it did, how it did it, and what it found.

“This initiative achieved many milestone results, not the least of which is identifying the scope of the debris issue [that] 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. “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.”

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“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,” added Doug Neasloss, stewardship director of 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.”

An additional $1.33 million will support the Coastal First Nations—Great Bear Initiative (CFN). CFN will see shoreline clean-up projects this spring in key food gathering areas and provide training and jobs for community members.

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