BC Ferries installs cable that will shed plastic into Baynes Sound

WatchDenman Island residents angry the corporation hasn't found a solution or alternative to plastic-flaking cables

Jessica Johnston has filled a box with the cable plastic she’s collected while walking along the shores of Denman Island.

All of the pieces of plastic coating have been shed from three cables that help move a BC ferry between Denman Island and Vancouver Island.

“This is just an example of some of the smaller pieces if you look in the seaweed and sand,” said Johnston, a Denman Island resident.

Despite BC Ferries recognizing the problem since the cable ferry started operating here nearly four years ago on Thursday the corporation installed a new cable coated in plastic.

“I think that’s insane and I’m not quite sure how that’s allowed,” said Johnston.

“You’d think the federal and provincial regulating bodies wouldn’t allow a piece of equipment that is known to continuously shed plastic to be placed in the ocean. That’s what we’re all trying to prevent right?”

A community group that collects literally tonnes of plastics from sensitive Baynes Sound each year says most of what they collect is from the shellfish growers but this doesn’t help.

“Here is another thing and so it’s not measured in tonnes but it’s equally insidious because it all breaks down and becomes a danger to the ecosystem,” said Dorrie Woodward from the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards.

BC Ferries says this will be the last plastic-coated cable it will install and it’s working on an alternative but notes manufacturing them takes a long lead time.

Their statement says “the first flattened strand cable is expected to be installed late summer 2020, however, we hope to accelerate the schedule. We continue to monitor the performance of the plasticized cables and will move as quickly as we can to change them out.”

“My impression is they’ll look at ways to capture the plastic as it’s shredded before it enters Baynes Sound,” said Woodward. “Now I don’t know whether they’ll be able to do that but they’ve decided to try.”

It’s a potential interim solution residents would like to see before any more plastic sheds from the cables.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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