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.
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.
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.
August 31, 2020
Government of British Columbia: Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Shoreline clean-up funds create jobs, protect coastal waters.
September 4, 2020:
June 12, 2021
Crews work to remove marine debris from B.C.’s coastline for second year in a row.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.