Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Clear the Coast 2022

Long-time volunteers (left to right) Brenda Stewart, Eric Grantner and Bruce Joiner prepare an ugly ball of rope and net for heli-lifting by knocking the sand out of it.


Our 2022 habitat restoration work removed over 7.29 tonnes of marine debris from 16 discrete beaches on the North Island and Lanz and Cox Islands, including several beaches that we had never before cleared. Of that amount, 2.17 tonnes were landfilled and the rest repurposed or recycled through Ocean Legacy’s recycling facilities in Steveston, for a diversion rate of 70%. We would like to gratefully acknowledge at the outset the tremendous contribution of Lonepaddle Conservationist Society (David Jensen), whose collaboration with our program was key to its success this year. Details of the expeditions follow.

North Coast Trail:  Laura Creek

On June 15, we worked with park operator 43K Wilderness Solutions to share helicopter time. We dropped supplies and a crew of 6 into the Laura Creek campsite, an area that we had only partially cleared several years earlier. On that earlier trip, operations had been limited by supplies: we removed 12 lift bags (approximately 1 cubic metre each) and numerous strings of floats, leaving behind at least an equal quantity. On this expedition, we brought 30 bags.

Between June 15-18, we cleared a 4-km stretch of beach, establishing 5 caches each containing 3-5 bags and strung materials. On June 19, we brought in a helicopter and lifted the debris to the nearest drop site, where it was loaded on a truck and taken to storage in Port Hardy. The debris was sorted the next day and all material that could be repurposed or recycled was removed. Unfortunately, that material was not weighed before removal.

Overall, we found less debris than anticipated, possibly reflecting a winter cleanup by crews employed by the agent for the Zim Kingston, the container vessel that spilled 109 containers off the south Island in October, 2021. We found debris from that spill, including innumerable Brita water jugs and filters, two entire hot tub covers, urinal mats, tennis balls, broken coolers and inflatable plastic toys. By far, the majority of the debris recovered was identifiable as fishing and aquaculture gear.

We also observed juvenile green crab all over the beaches adjacent to Laura Creek, which would suggest that a control operation in mid-June next year, to reduce the numbers of this destructive, invasive species, would be advisable. We have reported these observations to DFO’s invasive species program and will discuss this further with BC Parks.

Northwest Coast of Vancouver Island

Our planned, 2-week expedition in early August signed up 14 volunteers, but got off to a poor start when the sailboat used for crew transport and supplies broke down en route. It became quickly apparent that repairs could not be effected in time to continue and the expedition was cancelled.

David Jensen was one of those volunteers and he had already made his own plans to clear the beaches we had targeted for this year. Travelling by paddleboard, he established 13 caches over the course of August and early September, most of which required some additional supplies and labour to be lift-ready. We accordingly arranged for a crew to be brought in by helicopter to support his work and ready it for lifting.

Working again with a crew of 6, on September 17 we drove to the Cape Scott Provincial Park parking lot and met the Hughes 500 helicopter with supply bundles organized for each of the lift sites David had established. Crew and supplies were lifted directly to the caches, where they worked to further collect, bag or string debris for lifting.  Throughout the day, we moved crews through all 13 lift sites, finishing at a site on Russell Point that was heavily impacted but had not been cleared at all. By day’s end, the entire crew of 6 was working to prepare the lift for that site.  All of this material was lifted to the lower parking lot at Cape Scott Provincial Park.

The crew was then taken to base camp at Sea Otter Cove to camp overnight, awaiting arrival of an A-star helicopter the next day and a trip to Cox Island. We prepared supply packages for two crew deployments on Cox Island, to beaches we had surveilled by helicopter in March, 2022.

The first crew departed for Cox Island at 0830 on September 18, while the second crew prepared the camp gear and food for lifting out to volunteers waiting to secure the lift at the parking lot. The second crew departed for Cox by 0945 and the helicopter landed, remaining with the second crew until the first lifts were ready to fly at about 1 pm. For the next 3 hours, we continued collecting, bagging and stringing material, keeping pace with the helicopter’s return time to ensure that it flew with full loads on each trip. At the end of the day, crews were returned to their vehicles in the parking lot for the drive back to Port Hardy.

To say these beaches are ‘heavily impacted’ is understatement. Debris from the container spill, including vast quantities of fresh EPS foam, mixed with the usual fishing and aquaculture gear was trapped in intertidal log piles and also flung into the forest in places where storm surge carried it in. We had hoped to be able to spend two full days on Cox Island but were unable to secure consecutive days of helicopter support to do so. There is certainly sufficient debris accumulation to merit a more intensive effort next year.

Over the two expeditions, we engaged 11 volunteers who contributed 790 hours—exclusive of the individual efforts of David Jensen while not with our team. Details of the recovered material and maps of the areas cleared follow.


Materials recovered by weight:


Weight in kg

Rope, net


Plastic floats


Recyclable foam floats


Hard plastic






Clean EPS foam for recycling




Foam-filled metal navigation buoy





7.29 metric tonnes