B.C.’s marine shorelines will soon be much cleaner, thanks to coastal Indigenous Nations, local governments, non-profits and organizations tackling marine debris cleanup projects.
The funding will come from the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund, providing more than $9.5 million for projects to clear B.C.’s shores of marine debris and derelict vessels. The projects will create jobs and support coastal communities as they recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn.
“Marine cleanup programs are a critical part of reducing pollution in these sensitive ecosystems and protecting fish and other marine life, as well as important food sources,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “These projects will remove tonnes of debris, create new jobs and provide much-needed support to local governments, Indigenous communities and other groups to address marine pollution.”
The fund is being administered by PwC Canada on behalf of government. The application process will open on Jan. 4, 2021. Eligible applicants include coastal Indigenous Nations and local governments, as well as non-profits and other groups in B.C. that have expertise in shoreline and marine debris clean up or removal of derelict vessels. All projects must be initiated by March 31, 2021, and completed by Dec. 31, 2021.
“PwC Canada is proud to be the administrator of the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund,” said James Temple, chief corporate responsibility officer, PwC Canada. “Supporting local economic recovery through an environmental sustainability lens is critical to help our society rebuild given the impacts of climate change. Everyone has a role to play. We are committed to working with governments, businesses and communities to help navigate their environmental, social and governance agendas.”
Applications will be accepted until Feb. 15, 2021. Fund recipients and their projects are expected to be announced in March 2021.
The program directly responds to the strong public call to action on marine debris that Sheila Malcolmson, then-parliamentary secretary for the environment, heard when she toured coastal communities in summer 2019. The main concerns raised by local governments and individuals included abandoned vessels, mooring buoys, polystyrene foam, aquaculture debris and single-use plastics.
The concerns will be a priority for Kelly Greene, newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment.
“I am very much looking forward to taking up the challenges of marine debris and carrying on the great work of my predecessor,” Greene said. “We are all becoming increasingly aware of just how serious the problem is and how urgently we must act. This funding will make a huge difference to coastal communities and the marine environment that sustains them.”
The Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative is an important part of the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan and the plan’s goal to address plastic pollution.
The initiative is also part of government’s broad economic recovery plan to support all sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic.
- The new funding follows two previous Clean Coast, Clean Waters projects announced in August 2020:
- The Small Ship Tour Operators Association, whose 2020 ecotourism season had been cancelled by COVID-19, received $3.5 million for marine debris cleanup expeditions around B.C.’s central coast. An interim report indicates the project created over 100 jobs for tour operators and local communities and resulted in 127 tonnes of debris removed from 600 kilometres of shoreline in 42 days.
- The Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative received $1.3 million to plan and implement shoreline cleanup projects in their communities, identify and prioritize food gathering areas for clean up and provide training and jobs to community members, including youth. Work is anticipated to begin in spring 2021 and be completed by June 30, 2021, with nine communities involved, 50 paid workers trained and 200 kilometres of shoreline inspected and/or cleaned.
- Globally, it has been estimated that the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic waste enters the ocean every minute, totalling eight million tonnes every year.
For information about marine debris in B.C., visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/waste-management/zero-waste/marine-debris-protection
For information about how B.C. is taking action on climate change, visit: https://cleanbc.gov.bc.ca/