British Columbia’s central coast, including the Great Bear Rainforest, is the focus of a unique partnership to rid remote shorelines of marine debris.
The provincial government announced on Monday a fund to clean up remote B.C. shorelines in a bid to create jobs as communities try to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The initiative is called the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund (CCCW) and it will allocate $3.5 million to the fund. According to the government, this money will allow small ship tour operators, First Nations and local communities to help in the removal of debris and plastic from along the coast.
“The ocean environment sustains all life and needs our attention and action,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment. “This funding will create jobs for local communities. It strengthens our partnerships with Indigenous Nations, tourism operators and local communities as we work together to clean up our shorelines, protect marine life and support our world-class coastal tourism economy.”
Malcolmson says that the investment into the CCCW program is in response to a public call to action that she heard amid touring coastal communities in 2019.
The B.C. coastline has proven to be a prominent spot for debris in our country as over 2019, nearly half the collected debris in Canada – or 77,836 kilograms – was removed from B.C. shorelines.
“This is the first time a cleanup of this scale has been launched on the Central Coast of British Columbia,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “It is a great example of how our future, both environmentally and economically, must be built on partnership and reconciliation.”
The Small Ship Tour Operators Association (SSTOA) will conduct two marine debris removal expeditions, each up to 21 days. The expeditions will include nine vessels and more than 100 crew members that will inspect and clean up to 1,000 kilometres of remote shoreline.
The government says this will cover shorelines for 100 small islands.
“B.C.’s coastal environment is one of our greatest assets, attracting visitors from all over the world and supporting tourism in British Columbia,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “Funding for these projects not only protects the marine environment but provides jobs for people affected by the significant decrease in tourism as a result of the pandemic.”
The debris will be recycled where possible to reduce the amount of material going into landfills.
Last year, the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up removed 163,505 kilograms of debris in Canada, an increase of more than 47,000 kilograms from 2018.
This is the first in a series of CCCW initiatives that are creating jobs for tour operators, clean-up crews, community educators and specialized positions in areas such as oceanographic data collection.