Marine Debris Removal 2021

Over 200 tonnes of plastic waste cleaned from Canada’s West Coastline marks BC’s largest marine debris clean—up ever.

The coastal cleanup ran over a span of 6 weeks — covering 306 kilometres of shoreline.

The Small Ship Tour Operators Association (SSTOA), the Wilderness Tourism Association (WTA), TELUS, the Ocean Legacy Foundation, and the BC government worked together to pull this off — employing 111 people in the tourism industry and 69 people in Indigenous coastal communities.

About the MDRI

Facing the loss of their operating seasons in 2020 and in 2021, the SSTOA members proposed a collaborative BC Coastal Cleanup instead of docking their ships. 

With the active support of the Wuikinuxv, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, and Gitga’at First Nations — whose territories the expeditions operated within — they brought this proposal to life. 

The first initiative, in 2020, saw the removal of 127 tonnes of debris from the Central Coast.


1 helicopter assisted in the removal of debris — loading the bags of debris onto a barge. The barge took the debris to a dry land sort in Port Hardy to be further processed. The fleet then recycled about 75% of the debris at Ocean Legacy’s Delta facility.

Expedition 1 Route
Expedition 2 Route

Where They Went

The northern coast of BC, along the Great Bear Rainforest, was the target of this years MDRI.

This region represents some of BC’s most remote and exposed coastal areas — and within it are very high concentrations of ecological treasures, including critical marine mammal and seabird habitats. This area has been culturally significant for a number of Coastal First Nations for a millennia. 

BC’s northern coast offers one of the most iconic tourism experiences for nature and wildlife viewing, including the famous Spirit Bear

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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.