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Beautiful British Columbia is home to more than 40,000 islands and upwards of 25,000 kilometres of coastline, a paddlers dream. With thousands of kilometres of remote shorelines only accessible by water, groups like the B.C. Marine Trails Network Association have dedicated volunteers who share their passion for the water by maintaining a network of campsites and access points along the coast for all to enjoy.
However the shorelines of B.C. have also been the landing place for garbage from Canada and around the world. For example, when the 2011 tsunami struck the northeast coast of Japan, thousands of tons of marine debris were washed into the water, where it was transported across the Pacific Ocean to our shores.
As a way to invest in its members’ excitement for volunteering, president Stephanie Meinke, spoke with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, to see what they could do to help. With funding from the Japanese government and the Province of British Columbia, the Shoreline Cleanup team has been working with groups throughout B.C. to access and cleanup these remote shorelines affected by the tsunami and everyday shoreline litter.
From June 19 to 27, 16 volunteers from the Trails Association Network took part in a kayaking cleanup trip on the northern end of Vancouver Island around Quatsino Sound. Launching from Gooding Cove, the group was comprised of members from various paddling clubs on Vancouver Island and the mainland.
The groups worked tirelessly to clear sandy beaches, bushy uplands and rock faces of everyday garbage and tsunami debris, including 20 tires, five hard hats of Japanese origin, basketballs, a cast iron stove, large floats, huge amounts of Styrofoam, rope and over 500 plastic bottles.
“I was inspired by the results of our clean up. The fact that we, as individuals, can make such a difference rekindled my energy. It was a real pleasure spending a few days with like-minded folks, doing something to benefit this beautiful coast we all enjoy exploring,” said volunteer Reale Edmond.
The group put their kayaking skills to good use towing the debris from the outside areas to the landing beach to allow access from a landing barge to pick up the debris. Volunteers worked in the surf to attach the cables from a skiff to the bagged debris for removal. The group took the debris to 7-Mile Recycling Depot to sort through the recyclable items they could divert from the landfill.
A huge thanks to the volunteers who removed 3,420 kilograms of debris from remote coastlines! Their passion for the outdoors is creating cleaner, safer coastlines for everyone to enjoy. You can help make your own shorelines a cleaner place by signing up for a shoreline cleanup in your own community.
Funding for this cleanup was provided by the Vancouver Aquarium Great Canadian Cleanup Program which is made possible by the generous contribution from the Government of Japan and its people and supported by the Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Environment and the Government of Canada.