Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Clear the Coast 2023

Members of the 2023 crew at work in Sea Otter Cove

Our spring expedition took us to a base camp at Guise Bay in Cape Scott Provincial Park. From there, we cleaned the majority of the Cape Scott Trail, approximately 8 kilometers of beach. One of those areas was new to us: the Stacks, a beach near the lightstation, was so heavily littered with plastic that the trailhead alone yielded a full cubic metre bag. People had apparently been collecting and securing plastics above the high-tide line for so long that we literally had to excavate the trailhead—we were walking on plastics to a depth of a couple of feet.

Our crew of seven people removed 2.07 tonnes of debris from these beaches over the course of 3 days, June 15-18. On the 18th, debris was removed by helicopter to a nearby logging road. It was picked up from there by a contracted truck and trailer and taken to the nearby landfill. At that site, the load was sorted for recycling and the balance landfilled.

The summer expedition took place August 26-September 4. With your support, we were able to use a helicopter on the first and last days of the trip. This enabled us to send crews out to Cox Island both of those days, cleaning 4 beaches on the southwest side of the Island. These had been previously identified to us by Environment and Climate Change Canada staff as being the most heavily impacted—and they were! Our crew of 6 people working in two teams of 3 recovered 3 tonnes of plastic in two days.

The balance of our time at the Sea Otter base camp was spent hiking to nearby San Josef Bay, Lowrie Bay and the Helen Islands. We retained the services of a skipper and large inflatable boat to transport crews from base camp to the various trailheads. We were pleased to see that a decade of consistent work is beginning to pay off, in that these beaches that we have regularly cleaned are beginning to yield less plastic. This was offset, however, by the enormous amounts we recovered by moving into new areas: Cape Russell, to the north of Sea Otter Cove; Hansen’s Lagoon, just below Guise Bay and a number of small pocket beaches in between the two. In all, we cleared 26 kilometers. This was only possible because one of our volunteers, David Jensen, had travelled out to Hansen’s Lagoon some three weeks earlier and had cleared the Lagoon and several pocket beaches south to Cape Russell.

All told, this year’s work brought in 10.5 tonnes of plastic debris. In terms of volume, that was over 100 cubic metres.