10 tonnes of debris has been removed in the first five days, in a project by the Campbell River Association of Tour Operators, or CRATO.
With funding from BC’s Provincial Clean Coast, Clean Waters Fund, CRATO is working along with 29 young adults between the ages of 16-29 and dozens of community volunteers to remove ocean garbage from 350 km of shoreline utilizing boats, barges, helicopters, and other heavy-duty equipment.
The young adults have had the opportunity to train in everything from marine knot tying to crane safety as well as wildlife awareness. Approximately 30% are local indigenous youth and as the project unfolds, CRATO is consulting with each of the First Nations on their traditional shorelines in culturally sensitive areas.
The CRATO members, in addition to training the youth on marine equipment and safety procedures, are teaching them the many variables of finding and sorting ocean trash into recyclable, reusable piles reducing the land fill content as much as possible and they are accomplishing all of this in the harsh nature and weather of BC’s shoreline.
Leigh Nelson, employment coordinator and owner of Adventure Quest Canada said, “The first five days were relatively simple with accessible beach-based clean-ups. It was a good opportunity to train the youth and volunteers and discover best practices for when we got to the tougher areas. The teams are now working in areas which require boat only shore operations. BC’s shorelines tend to be difficult to land on. Gathering and loading super sacks of large styrofoam blocks, abandoned ropes, fishing nets and tires of all sizes — some reaching up to 350kg — is extremely challenging.”
So far, 10 tonnes of debris has been removed over an 80 km area — they have until December 31st to complete the project. “It’s shocking, even though we pass these shorelines all season we don’t see what has been pushed up by logs and trapped under rocks, no wonder our marine life are smothered and dying under the weight of ocean garbage. The job is arduous and precarious but must be done. The engagement of the youth and volunteers along with community awareness — it’s a win-win.” says Bill Coltart, CRATO president and owner of Big Animal Encounters. CRATO’s members are impressed and thankful for the commitment and drive of the youth and the willingness of the volunteers to show up day after day.
Anyone wishing to volunteer to help the project complete by December 31st can contact Leigh Nelson at [email protected].