The British Columbia coastline, including the Great Bear Rainforest, will receive a $3.5 million clean-up to rid the shores of marine debris. The cleanup is a first in a series of actions by the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund (CCCW) in partnership with the Small Ship Tour Operators Association (SSTOA) and Indigenous Nations, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said, in press release on Aug. 31.
The cleanup also creates jobs and supports coastal communities as they recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn, impacting tourism.
“As part of our pandemic response the Small Ship Tour Operators Association (SSTOA) will conduct two marine debris removal expeditions, each up to 21 days, including nine vessels and more than 100 crew who will inspect and clean up to 1,000 kilometres, weather permitting, of remote shoreline around 100 small islands,” Jennifer Rice, North Coast MLA said, on Sept. 1.
“This is an important initiative that will benefit both working people and the natural environment,” Rice said.
“We all depend on our oceans and coastline in different ways, and this project will have the double benefit of helping to improve the health of our coasts while also creating jobs for people in our communities whose livelihoods have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The program responds to the strong public call to action on marine debris that Sheila Malcolmson, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment, heard when she toured coastal communities last summer, the statement said.
“The ocean environment sustains all life and needs our attention and action,” Malcolmson said. “This funding will create jobs for local communities. It strengthens our partnerships with Indigenous Nations, tourism operators and local communities as we work together to clean up our shorelines, protect marine life and support our world-class coastal tourism economy.”
The SSTOA will lead the projects to remove marine debris and will recycle the collected debris where possible, reducing the amount of material ending up in landfills. The clean-up operations will be performed by various marine-based tourism operators, which may include but is not limited to member companies of the SSTOA.
More than 163,505 kilograms of shoreline waste was removed in Canada in 2019. This was an increase of 47,076 kg from 2018. Slightly less than half of the debris was collected from B.C. shorelines in the amount of 77,836 kg.
Kevin Smith member of SSTOA and President of Maple Leaf Adventures said when it became clear the tour season would have to be cancelled the association decided they had to act “on projects that help the ocean we love and support our industry during this unprecedented time.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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