A massive cleanup is set to clear roughly 400 kilometres of West Coast shoreline. (Coastal Restoration Society Facebook page photo)

A massive cleanup is set to clear roughly 400 kilometres of West Coast shoreline. (Coastal Restoration Society Facebook page photo)

Nine derelict vessels to be removed from Ucluelet Inlet as part of $2.5M cleanup

Coastal Restoration Society receives $2.5 million from B.C.’s Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative

A massive shoreline cleanup is coming to the West Coast.

The Coastal Restoration Society has received $2.5 million from the provincial government’s Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund to tackle debris strewn across roughly 400 kilometres of shoreline, including the removal of nine derelict vessels from Ucluelet Inlet.

“Keeping our coastline clean is a priority not only for those of us fortunate enough to live here, but for all British Columbians,” said Mid Island-Pacific Rim NDP MLA Josie Osborne. “I’m thrilled to see another project coming to the West Coast of Vancouver Island that does just that, and that also provides jobs for our region that people can feel good about.”

People who live on the West Coast care passionately about the ocean and our local beaches. So many good people have…

Posted by Josie Osborne on Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Coastal Restoration Society’s $2.5 million project is part of a $9.5 million investment through the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative announced by the province on April 28.

“We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia, through the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy,” Coastal Restoration Society director Andrea McQuade told the Westerly News.

The society’s executive director Josh Temple explained that the $2.5 million project is a collaboration between a variety of organizations and First Nations and will span from Brooke’s Peninsula to Sooke.

“It just pulls everybody together in a meaningful way on one larger project nested within the Clean Coast, Clean Waters overall initiative,” Temple told the Westerly. “We are deeply grateful to all of our host First Nations and partnership organizations that are participating in this overall project.”

He suggested the massive cleanup effort is “a first of its kind in the world” and will set the bar for global marine rehabilitation.

“Not only are we tackling this right here in our own backyard, but we’re setting an example for the rest of the world to follow…This is really the largest scale effort in history. We hope that by addressing these issues at the scope and scale that they truly require through the CCCW fund and phase one of this project, we’ll be setting a precedent for this type of meaningful contribution,” he said. “Marine debris, ocean plastics, derelict vessels and all of these types of pollutants that find their way into the marine environment is an issue here at home at the local level, but it’s an exponentially growing issue at the global level as well.”

He said the project will kick off with the removal of nine derelict vessels from the Ucluelet Inlet beginning May 18 in partnership with the Ucluelet First Nation.

“Derelict vessels are significant contributors to marine pollution in the form of microplastics and petroleum products. They create ghost fishing gear issues, they destroy critical nearshore habitat and juvenile wild salmon habitat as well as herring and other keystone species,” he said. “We have to deal with derelict vessels and their impact on the marine environment if we’re going to make meaningful progress in our collective goal of rehabilitating our marine environment.”

He suggested popular boating destinations like Ucluelet can become crowded graveyards of derelict vessels, running the gamut from abandoned commercial fishing vessels to pleasure crafts.

“The problem is, over the years, there hasn’t really been a concerted effort to tackle them, but we’ve certainly turned the page and now we have meaningful support from both the provincial and the federal government to start tackling these issues on the scale and scope that they require,” he said.

Following the launch of the derelict vessel removal project, cleanups are scheduled to begin in Hesquiaht First Nation territory and T’Sou-ke First Nation territory with other projects cascading through the spring, summer and fall months.

“We look forward to working with the Coastal Restoration Society and Surfrider Pacific Rim, for the partnered removal of marine debris and providing environmental opportunities for the citizens of Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, and for our neighbouring nations,” said Ucluelet First Nation President Charles McCarthy. “The marine ecosystem is a vital source for our culture, sustains our livelihood, and home. Kleco, kleco.”

Anyone interested in getting involved or learning more about the project is encouraged to reach out through the society’s website at coastrestore.com or send an email to info@coastrestore.com.


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READ MORE: Invasive green crabs spark massive trapping project near Tofino

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