The trash was collected from remote beaches by hundreds of volunteers over the past seven months, an operation organizers at Living Oceans Society have dubbed the largest marine debris cleanup ever conducted in Canada.
Their efforts were made possible by donations and, as much of the waste likely comes from the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, by a grant provided by the Japanese government.
“Probably 30 or 40 per cent of stuff has Japanese markings, [including] buoys from the Japanese oyster farming industry,” project manager Rob O’Dea said.
Another third or so of the items collected was derelict fishing gear such as trawl nets, which can easily entangle marine wildlife, O’Dea added. Most of the rest was post-consumer plastics, mostly water bottles.
All of it was collected and bagged over months, then transported onto a vessel dubbed the “garbarge” over the last week via helicopter.
On Tuesday, it was finally transported to the Fraser River in Delta, where some of it will be recycled and repurposed. Garbage and debris that can’t be repurposed will be sent to a landfill.
While the beaches are cleaner for now, the Living Oceans Society, which has been conducting the recovery effort for three years, said the garbage keeps coming back.
“In some cases three to four tonnes of material [was collected] off beaches that had been cleaned the last two years,” O’Dea said. “It’s still coming in. It’s accumulating on the beaches and it’s not a one-year thing. This is something that has to be ongoing.”
This year’s job isn’t done, either. Another barge will be transporting 100 more bags of garbage from the same Vancouver Island beaches, and Living Oceans Society is searching for volunteers to help sort through the debris on Oct. 1 and 2.
For more information on the cleanup efforts, or to volunteer or donate, visit the Living Oceans Society website.
Published on: September 27, 2016
By CTV News Vancouver