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Clear the Coast kicks into another season

June 23, 2014

Another season of Clear the Coast is underway. Will Soltau, Clear the Coast Project Coordinator, is organizing volunteer cleanups throughout northern Vancouver Island. We’ve already been busy working with local volunteers to remove marine debris and improve ocean health along this rugged shoreline.

It’s a sad fact that no matter where one goes ashore these days or how often and how many volunteers clean beaches, the debris—mostly plastic—keeps coming, breaking down into smaller and smaller bits from the energy of the waves and the sun. During its time in the ocean, plastics collect organic pollutants from the seawater and those, too, enter the food web. The marine life affected will suffer a variety of ills, some of which will be passed down from generation to generation. Washed up ropes and nets pose an immediate entanglement threat to wildlife. It all must be removed.

It's a big job but Living Oceans has the experience, local knowledge and networks to get it done.

Map of cleanup sites.

Sea Otter Cove

Cleaning up Sea Otter Cove.

A team of three ventured out by boat to Sea Otter Cove in late April. The volunteers were shocked at the accumulation of debris in this important wildlife habitat within the Cape Scott Provincial Park. They found everything from a refrigerator to thousands of plastic bottles to a broken skiff and derelict fishing nets that stretched across the intertidal zone. They gathered up what debris they could, vowing to return this summer with more volunteers and better equipment to tackle the problem.

We're running a crowdfunding campaign to help raise money to Clean up Sea Otter Cove. Any money that we raise for Clear the Coast between now and August will be matched by singer Jack Johnson's All At Once organization, a social action network connecting nonprofits with people who want to become active in their local and world community. Living Oceans has teamed up with Jack on his 2014 From Here To Now To You Tour. All At Once comes to life online at www.AllAtOnce.org and at Jack Johnson's concerts where you can get educated, get inspired, and connect face-to-face with us and other local and national non-profits. All At Once promotes sustainable local food systems and plastic free initiatives.

Robson Bight

On the other side of Vancouver Island, Will and three volunteers from Malcolm Island joined forces with members of the ‘Namgis First Nation, Cetus Research and Conservation Society, BC Parks Rangers and other locals to attack the marine debris on the shores of the critical orca habitat of Robson Bight and Boat Bay Ecological Reserves in Johnstone Strait. The good news was that Robson Bight itself was relatively clean, but sadly, Boat Bay was once again covered with debris. A full day of hard work by over 20 volunteers netted the largest haul of debris yet for this annual cleanup.

Malcolm Island

Fifty-four beverage cans, four tires, over 200 pieces of Styrofoam and one freezer. That’s just a small part of the haul of marine debris collected from the shoreline of Malcolm Island on our Oceans Day cleanup on June 8. In all we had two pickup truck loads full of debris.

Will Soltau and Carmen Pendleton with a huge piece of Styrofoam collected on Malcolm Island.

The drizzly start to the morning didn’t deter the enthusiastic participants, ages two to 70-plus who turned out. We were glad to see a few new faces along with a dedicated group of returning volunteers participating in this annual cleanup. The focal point of the cleanup was Kaleva Beach which had chunks of Styrofoam scattered along the high tide line.

On another day, Will and Carmen Pendleton, our summer student, headed out in a herring skiff to retrieve debris cached by volunteers over the winter. Carmen collected two large garbage bags of foam and plastic debris in less than 100 metres. Will walked the other direction and, as well as collecting a bag of debris, found a piece of Styrofoam that was taller than him!

See where volunteers are reporting debris and clearing the coast on our interactive Clear the Coast map.

You can become a part of the solution even if you can’t get to a beach by supporting our project with a donation. Remember to reduce your consumption of plastic and be sure to reuse or recycle what you can’t reduce.

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