Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Clear the Coast

Photo of cleanup crew at Helen Island.

Clear the Coast 2017

Well, we'd hoped that this year would see significant government funding directed to marine debris removal, considering how much attention we've drawn to the issue, but not yet. Our plans for 2017 are accordingly a lot more modest and still in development, but we will be back out on Vancouver Island's West Coast to remove plastic debris before it becomes food for marine life.  Please read on if you're interested in volunteering this year!

Our thanks go out to the Sitka Foundation, Nachiko Yokota and the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund's Public Conservation Assistance Fund, as well as our faithful supporters, for the funding that will enable us to work on the coast this year. It's beginning to look as if we'll have a long list of companies and individuals to thank for in-kind donations, too: we've been gratefully receiving offers of help almost daily.

The plans to date:

The trips following are drive-in, hike-in propositions: you get yourself there and we'll feed you and provide all the supplies needed for the cleanup. Please contact Maggie Dietterle at to sign up and receive detailed maps and instructions.

Map of northern Vancouver Island beaches



July 12-16: Cape Palmerston and Raft Cove

July 18-21: Grant Bay

July 28 - 31: Hecht Beach



Raft Cove Vista
Raft Cove Vista


In the weeks of August 14th and 21st, we will be leading expeditions to the North Coast Trail and Cape Scott.

Please follow us on facebook or visit this page again for details as they develop. These expeditions will leave from either Port Hardy or the San Josef Bay trailhead in Cape Scott Park and there will be some hiking involved. Details will follow next week.


Our Volunteers make the Difference

volunteer crew 2014

volunteer crew 2015

volunteer crew 2016


Why do we do what we do?

Marine debris can be as harmful to ocean ecosystems as destructive fishing practices. Tonnes of plastic waste are circulating on ocean currents and breaking down into smaller and smaller particles, often ending up on or inside seabirds, marine mammals and fish. Lost fishing gear can entangle and kill many marine species. Closer to shore, debris accumulates on beaches including near-shore waters like estuaries that have a high conservation value. Derelict and abandoned vessels are a threat to pollute harbours and other coastal areas.

Tell us what you found

The Search for the Sea

Robert Thorne has written a short children's bedtime story titled The Search for the Sea about the increasing volume of tidal waste and implications to us all. You can order the book from Amazon.

A key part of our work is monitoring locations where debris is sighted and indicating these on our Clear the Coast interactive map. Mapping marine debris will show us the location, amount and types of debris that has been collected.  An online reporting form is available for volunteers to report what they find and remove. Reports will be posted on the map indicating how and where marine waste pollutes our coastal ecosystems and the successful accomplishments of community clean-up efforts.
WARNING: If you find something that you suspect might be hazardous to you or the environment, don’t attempt to dismantle or move it on your own. Make sure to note the hazard in the reporting form.

Derelict vessels

derelict vessel removalOld and derelict vessels are another form of debris and a threat to the marine environment. Their growing presence and disposal is becoming a growing concern for marina operators on B.C.'s coast. These vessels become point sources of pollution, leaking hydrocarbons and other harmful toxins into the ocean. If anchored or abandoned on beaches, they may become hazards to navigation.

Living Oceans has studied how derelict vessels impact marine ecosystems and how lessons learned and best practices from vessel removal efforts in other places can be applied on northern Vancouver Island. This research will provide local harbour managers, marinas and other businesses with a starting point to develop local solutions to the hazards and pollution problems posed by abandoned and derelict vessels.

Ghost fishing gear

ghost fishing netEven after it’s lost, fishing gear continues to fish by trapping or entangling sea life. Local organizations and volunteers want to find and remove lost crab traps from recreational fishing areas in and near estuaries. We are collecting the information reported during these cleanup efforts into the Clear the Coast map that shows how and where the ghost gear interacts with important habitat like kelp beds and eelgrass meadows.