Shoreline Clean Up

Marine Debris Removal Initiative

The Marine Debris Removal Initiative (MDRI) is a project that aims to help clear marine debris from the central and northern coastline of British Columbia.

In the summers of 2020 and 2021, a collective 327 tonnes of plastic waste was cleaned from Canada’s West Coastline.

These have been BC’s largest marine debris clean up, ever — two years in a row.

About the MDRI

Marine debris is a huge problem on the coast of BC, and its removal is almost unanimously supported by all members of coastal communities, according to consultation in 2019 by the BC government.

A significant concern is the amount of debris (random plastics including almost 50,000 water bottles collected at the half-way point) found in sensitive ecological reserves, conservancies and shorelines.

Members of the Small Ship Tour Operators Association banded together over the past two summers to clean up the coastline — having to forgo their operating seasons due to COVID-19. 

 

TELUS | Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative

Learn how the Coastal Clean Up came to be; the people behind it, the process, and the shocking amount of debris cleaned from BC’s ‘pristine’ coastline so far.

The Clean Waters Initiative was spearheaded and executed by the members of the Small Ship Tour Operators Association of BC (SSTOA) and the Wilderness Tourism Association (WTA), with funding support from TELUS and the Government of BC – Clean Waters Initiative Fund. Supporting and participating First Nation Communities were integral in this initiative as well.

The Marine Debris Removal Initiative is a prime example of how industry alignment, support from corporations like TELUS, innovative thinking, and collaboration, can help make change. Tourism stewardship projects such as this build community connections and demonstrate a commitment to the long-term health of the industry; both of which are paramount to its sustainable management.

About the MDRI

Marine debris is a huge problem on the coast of BC, and its removal is almost unanimously supported by all members of coastal communities, according to consultation in 2019 by the BC government.

A significant concern is the amount of debris (random plastics including almost 50,000 water bottles collected at the half-way point) found in sensitive ecological reserves, conservancies and shorelines.

Members of the Small Ship Tour Operators Association banded together over the past two summers to clean up the coastline — having to forgo their operating seasons due to COVID-19. 

 

Leaders of the MDRI

Kevin Smith – Owner, Maple Leaf Adventures, President, Wilderness Tourism Association. Captain Smith brings over 35 years of experience exploring the rugged BC coast, most recently 20 years as an eco-tourism businessman, captain and expedition leader. Previously as a geographer and park ranger, he worked with coastal communities on the Great Bear Rainforest land use agreement.

Russell Markel – Owner, Outer Shores Expeditions, Captain Markel holds a Ph.D. in Marine Ecosystem Ecology and brings extensive experience leading and coordinating large interdisciplinary projects, including working closely with coastal First Nations. 

Randy Burke – Owner, Bluewater Adventures, Captain Burke has over 30 year’s experience leading an award-winning eco-tour company on the BC Coast. He is an eco-tourism pioneer, educator, and conservationist with long-standing friendships with coastal First Nations.  Bluewater Adventures’ fleet of locally built, custom motor-sailers; Island Roamer and Island Odyssey are now joined by the new flagship, Island Solitude.  

Ross Campbell – Owner, Mothership Adventures, Captain Campbell is also a retired helicopter pilot and will be responsible for liaising with a local helicopter company for picking-up and transferring debris to a marine barge.

Eric Boyum – Owner, Ocean Adventures Charter Company, Owner Eric Boyum’s 39 years’ experience as a captain, his years in commercial fishing, and as a firefighter in West Vancouver for 25 years bring specialized skills to the project. As well as working onshore with his team, Eric is the SSTOABC liaison with the Heiltsuk Nation and Heiltsuk Horizon (who own and operate the tug and barge involved in the clean-up) as well as with the Kitasoo Xai’Xais Nation and their community’s Spirit Bear Lodge. 

These companies are internationally recognized, offering “Canadian Signature Experiences,” and have for decades worked closely with Coastal First Nations establishing protocol agreements to recognize Indigenous rights and title.  Three of the member companies have been awarded the Sustainable Tourism Award from the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

Scott Benton — Executive Director, Wilderness Tourism Association, The Wilderness Tourism Association administers this project and assists in the coordination of its delivery.

The Small Ship Tour Operators Association

The Sad, Real, Facts

  • Each year an estimated 8.8 million tons of marine debris, or marine litter, enters the world’s oceans in the form of a wide range of industrial, residential, and single-use plastics.
  •       Marine debris poses threats to species at risk including fish, seabirds and marine mammal populations – fishing gear makes up almost half of all marine debris. 
  •       As marine plastics lie on beaches, the sun breaks down their strength. Then winter storms wash the plastics back into the ocean, where, already weakened, they break down further into microplastics, enter the food chain, and threaten fisheries and human health.
  •       In British Columbia, despite being sparsely populated and relatively inaccessible, the accumulation of vast amounts of marine debris derived both domestically and internationally, are increasingly a source of alarm and great concern.

However

  • In 2018, the Governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the European Union signed the Oceans Plastics Charter in a commitment to move towards a more resource-efficient and sustainable approach to the management of plastics.

Media Contacts

Scott Benton-Wilderness Tourism Association of BC
Phone: 250-655-4103
Email: scott.benton@wilderness-tourism.bc.ca

Deirdre Campbell- Beattie Tartan
Phone: 250-882-9199
Email: deirdre.campbell@beattiegroup.com

MDRI_2021
VANCOUVER SUN

June 12, 2021
COVID-19: B.C. tour operators stay afloat during pandemic cleaning up marine debris

dji_0055
CANADIAN GEOGRAPHIC

November 13, 2020
Expedition Report: The great BC coastal cleanup of 2020

globeandmail

GLOBE AND MAIL

September 23, 2020
Stepping up: With Season cancelled, ecotourism group tackles marine waste

pacificyachting
PACIFIC YACHTING

September 22, 2020
Marine Debris Cleanup on British Columbia's West Coast

MDRI 2020
CANADIAN GEOGRAPHIC

September 18, 2020
Small ship tourism saving B.C. beaches with marine debris cleanup

bclocalnews
BC LOCAL NEWS

September 17, 2020
Remote B.C. tourism lodge staffed for coastal cleanup instead of tours

thenarwhal
THE NARWHAL

September 15, 2020
B.C. tour Operators clean up oceandebris during coronavirus pandemic

adventuretravelnews
ADVENTURE TRAVEL NEWS

September 15, 2020
How B.C. is saving its beaches and small ship tourism with a marine debris clean up

timescolonist
TIMES COLONIST

September 1, 2020
Idled tourism-ship crews clear garbage from coastline

admin@wilderness-tourism.bc.ca
Phone: (778) 671-0941

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We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.