Volunteers gather to clean up Baynes Sound beach

Volunteers gather to clean up Baynes Sound beach

Industry groups, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans along with other volunteers are spending this week collecting garbage from the shores of Baynes Sound. Dean Stoltz has more. 

Baynes Sound, south of Courtenay, is known for its beautiful shorelines, beaches and boating.

But there is also tons of garbage, literally, and this week dozens of volunteers are combing the Vancouver Island side to clean it up.

“We think this is a really good cause and if we can help out and clean up the beach and use it as a baseline to work from so it stays clean it’s awesome.” said Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) volunteer Bernie Taekema.

“I work in shellfish aquaculture so I’m out here to help out the industry and clean up the beaches and some of the debris and get a better handle on what’s out there.” said Amber Neuman, another DFO volunteer.

People who live around the Sound, particularly on Denman Island, have long been critical of the garbage produced by the shellfish growing industry in the area.

They’ve been doing their own annual clean up for 13 years and collect four to five tonnes every time.

The Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards (ADIMS) says 90 per cent of the plastics they clean up from beaches on Denman Island is from the shellfish growing industry.

“I would really call on DFO to utilize their research capacity to find alternatives to plastic,” said ADIMS Co-Chair Barbara Mills. “We believe that no more carcinogens or plastics should be promoted in the marine environment.”

Micro plastics are considered to be one of the greatest dangers to marine life.

The DFO says it’s working with industry groups to come up with possible alternatives in the future.

“We are looking at some clean tech initiatives that could potentially replace styrofoam and other bits of material that we do find are more of an issue when they find their way into the ocean.” said DFO Senior Shellfish Biologist Chris Marrie.

The executive director of the BC Shellfish Growers Association was also in Royston taking part in the cleanup. Darlene Winterburn was finding all sorts of non-industry related garbage but admits growers need to do better.

“Industry is always looking for better ways to do things and and we’ve got different projects that are on the go and evolving and as we find sources and different ways of doing things we of course will be progressing and embracing those.” she said.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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