The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup started in 1994, when a handful of Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre employees and volunteers decided to coordinate a cleanup in Stanley Park to help protect local wildlife. Twenty-two years later, the Shoreline Cleanup has grown into the largest conservation-based cleanup program in Canada, with more than 2,000 cleanups and 60,000 participants each year.
The Shoreline Cleanup is now a joint program of Vancouver Aquarium and WWF-Canada, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited. At offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, team members provide support for cleanups that take place in every province and territory across Canada. The Shoreline Cleanup team also works closely with other departments at the Aquarium in order to better understand the consequences of shoreline litter. For example, research by the Coastal Ocean Research Institute has allowed the Shoreline Cleanup team to inform their public about microplastics entering the food web via zooplankton. From changing our buying habits to reducing our plastic consumption, we can all contribute to healthier and cleaner oceans.
Staff and volunteers at the Aquarium also actively support the initiative — a recent cleanup by Aquarium members removed more than 100 pounds of garbage from a local beach in Richmond, B.C. “We are so thrilled to be joined by thousands of Canadians from coast to coast to coast each year,” says Kate Le Souef, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. “As for the next 60 years, I’d love to think that the problem of shoreline litter would be completely solved, so that we don’t need to clean anymore.”
Engaging the public to take direct action is a core component of the Aquarium’s mission, and the Shoreline Cleanup is an important part of that. With eight million tonnes of plastic entering our waters from land each year, it’s clear that we all have a part to play in cleaning up aquatic pollution. By coordinating a cleanup at a lake, river, stream, marsh or beach in your area, you are directly contributing to keeping our world oceans healthy for years to come. Visit www.shorelinecleanup.ca to get started.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited and supported by Ricoh Canada and YVR, is a joint conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF-Canada. Find out more at www.shorelinecleanup.ca