On June 23, 2019, nine volunteers with BC Marine Trails (BCMT) boarded a water taxi in Fair Harbour, BC, to be dropped at Battle Bay in the Checleset Bay Ecological Reserve, before proceeding to Paradise Beach, on South Brooks Peninsula, approximately 7 NM (13 kilometres) to the west.
This beautiful and popular site with long sandy beaches is exposed to Southeast and Southwest storms that carry tonnes of marine debris ashore. As part of the Vancouver Island Marine Debris Working Group, BCMT has conducted shoreline cleanups for the past five years, entirely with volunteer effort. This year we were joined and supported by Rugged Coast Research Society based in Nanaimo, BC, who cleaned a large swath of beach, and shared the experience with their children as the ultimate family holiday, as well as taking our group to Island 195 in the Bunsby Islands, to fill two super sacks with previously collected garbage.
Rugged Coast also provided transport for our videographer, Shane Philip, and BCMT Director, Allan Edwin. After mapping plastics accumulation along the coast for the past two years, this society decided they wanted to participate in an actual cleanup. In addition, we were joined by Seize Change, represented by Dan Greenwood and Mathilde Gordon, two friends sailing around Vancouver Island, educating children and the public about single use plastics and how they can make positive changes to preserve our precious coast for future generations.
Together, our teams filled 25 super sacks with brittle plastic drink bottles, hard plastics, foam, and assorted garbage for later pickup. We strung together endless floats; salvaged rope buried in the sand; and found propane tanks, coolers, and even a refrigerator. Were it not for the tireless effort of these volunteers, these plastics and other polluting debris would wash back into the ocean with winter high tides.
Overwhelming an effort as it is, every volunteer expressed a feeling of accomplishment, and the supreme satisfaction at making a positive difference, and expressed a desire to return another day. We know this persistent source of plastics and fishing gear are harmful to marine ecosystems, entangle marine mammals, and poison the food chain up to and including humans. It is impossible to ignore plastic pollution in our oceans the world over, but the solution must begin with individual acts, and responsible choices.
BCMT is proud to share a commitment to care for our coast with many thoughtful, energetic, and dedicated people, young and old and every age in between. It is heartening to see young families sharing this awareness, raising the next generation that will inherit our mess, and hopefully find solutions, because they have been raised to appreciate their home, while learning that their actions affect the biological health of the ecosystem which we share with a multitude of creatures.
BCMT will continue to organize cleanups every summer on the west coast, providing similar stewardship opportunities on the inside coast year round. Consider becoming a member and getting involved.
Further work is now being completed removing the super sacks from this clean up. We will inform people thru our social media accounts.