More than $3.2 million in funding to clear up north coast waters, including Haida Gwaii, has been released for three projects, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy announced, on Aug. 5.
Misty Isles Economic Development Society (MIEDS), in partnership with the Haida Nation, has received a $2.3 million portion to clean up more than 200 tonnes of marine debris circumfrencing 400 km of coastline around the archipelago from the provincial Clean Coast Clean Waters initiative. The project will create more than 140 jobs in the community.
Jennifer Rutt, executive director of MIEDS said the organization is excited to be at the helm of such an important project.
“It’s one that will create local jobs and remove tonnes of marine debris from our extensive coastline and advance our understanding of the marine pollution program across Haida Gwaii,” she said.
Project planning is well underway with the project deadline being Dec. 31. Hopefully, boats will be on the water in the upcoming weeks, the CEO said.
“So we hope to quickly secure as much local support and participation as possible. The Province has placed additional requirements on this round of funding, involving youth 16-29 years of age to participate.”
Misty Isles Economic Development Society will be engaging with local youth individuals and community programs to hire more than 100 youth in the project.
Northcoast MLA Jennifer Rice who co-announced the CCCW funding said as a long-time Northcoast resident she has seen firsthand the impact plastics pollution has on the sensitive marine ecosystem.
“Addressing the ongoing problems of marine debris is a complex issue,” Rice said. “The clean waters program has shown what can be accomplished through partnerships and persistence … Haida Gwaii is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s great news this area will be one of the targets of this program, returning it to a pristine state.”
More than 550 tonnes of fishing gear, plastics and polystyrene foam from B.C. beaches have been cleaned up since the start of the CCCW initiative.
“We have dedicated time and effort to ensure that the mainly plastic debris we collect is managed in an environmentally friendly way,” Rutt said.
The organization has also received funding from Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site, with which they purchased a plastics chipper for more efficient disposal and recycling purposes.
Two other organizations to receive funding were Spirit of the West Adventures with $563,000 to clean up to 400 km around the Discovery Islands and The Campbell River Association of Tour Operators receiving $767,000 to remove marine debris from 350 km of shoreline near Comox, Courtney, and Campbell River.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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