Province invests $9.5M in shoreline cleanup and derelict boat removal

Province invests $9.5M in shoreline cleanup and derelict boat removal

More than 100 derelict boats and marine debris will be removed from up to 1,200 kilometres of B.C.’s coastline, with funding from the provincial government.

B.C. is investing more than $9.5 million from the Clean Coast, Clean Waters (CCCW) Initiative Fund to take on shoreline cleanup and derelict vessel removal projects.

The CCCW was created after the province heard through consultation with local governments and individuals in 2019 about concerns over abandoned vessels, mooring buoys, polystyrene foam, aquaculture debris and single-use plastics.

“We know the vital role the ocean plays in moderating our climate, regulating temperature,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy. “It’s a critical food source and contributor to our ecology and it’s a source of employment.”

Heyman added the project will reduce pollution while creating jobs, and support local communities and Indigenous nations.

“The marine environment lies at the heart of coastal First Nations’ culture, traditions and livelihoods, and these projects will help protect those values,” said Murray Rankin, minister of Indigenous relations and reconciliation, in a press release.

Four groups will be receiving the funds, including the Songhees Development Corporation, the Small Ship Tour Operators Association, the Coastal Restoration Society and the Ocean Legacy Foundation.

Two million will go towards the Salish Sea Indigenous Marine Stewardship Project, a collaboration between the Songhees Development Corporation, Salish Sea Industrial Services (SSIS) — made up of members of the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations and Ralmax Group — and the Dead Boats Disposal Society.

“We’re interested in developing an Indigenous skilled workforce for the blue economy,” said Christina Clarke, CEO of Songhees Development Corporation. “We’ll be recruiting from all the nations whose territorial waters we’ll be working in.”

READ MORE: More derelict boats removed from Cadboro Bay and Ten Mile Point

Over the next nine months, the team will be pulling 100 abandoned boats from the Salish sea — working primarily around the Gulf Islands and southern Vancouver Island.

“We know where they are and we know how to pull them up,” Clarke noted, because they’ve done it before.

SSIS and the Dead Boats Disposal Society have already worked together to remove more than 145 derelict vessels over the past several years.

“We hunt down derelict boats and marine debris and we inventory them, we assess them,” said John Roe, director of Dead Boat Disposal Society. “We find the money and we help get rid of [them] … One of these fibre glass boats are — say 25 foot — they’re equivalent to about 485,000 straws per weight volume.”

Heyman says the program is part of both the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan and the $10-billion COVID-19 response and economic recovery plan.

He says B.C. has communicated with the federal government, which has also committed funding to support the cleanup of abandoned boats, to ensure there isn’t any overlap or inefficiencies.

“The scale of the problem is massive, and we need to do much more to address ocean debris and its devastating impacts on marine life and food sources,” Heyman said in a press release.

READ MORE: Federal gov’t providing nearly $2M to remove more abandoned boats in B.C.

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With files from the Canadian Press

Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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