Dozens of volunteers gathered on Denman Island Saturday to sift through upwards of 8 tonnes of trash collected from nearby beaches.

Denman Island residents have gathered at the local recycling yard each autumn for 15 years to sort through tonnes of debris collected from the island’s western shores. The debris ranges from plastic trays to netting, and other garbage that residents say is almost entirely coming from the shellfish growing industry in Baynes Sound and Deep Bay.

Last year six tonnes were collected and this year The Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards say it could be as high as eight.

“To us when we are looking, over 90% seems to be coming from the shellfish growing industry,” said Dorrie Woodward, Denman Island Marine Stewards Chair. “It’s their gear and equipment that has left their tenures or come off their rafts.”

She says gear like trays, rope, and polystyrene from rafts used by the industry ends on up on area beaches.

“The styrofoam is coming from the floats under the rafts and it breaks up into little tiny pieces which then break up into tinier and tinier pieces,” she said.

“What we need is the DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) or industry or somebody to have a contractor to make sure that all the rafts and equipment is secure and to go to all the difficult to access areas where all this stuff is being washed ashore,” said cleanup organizer Liz Johnston.

Our calls for comment from the BC Shellfish Growers Association in Comox Saturday were not returned.

Meanwhile, another source of concern and plastic on Denman Island beaches is the cable ferry between Buckley Bay and Denman.

A plastic coating on the cable has been coming off, ending up in the water and on the shore.

“The plastic is separating from the steel of the cable,” said BC Ferries CEO Mark Collins. “It’s not supposed to do that, it’s designed not to do that but it is happening and it’s our problem and we’re going to clean it up.”

Collins was on Denman Island Saturday with a team of volunteers aiding in the cleanup.

He says engineers continue to investigate the problem and look for solutions.

Dean Stoltz