Spirit of the West Adventures staff removed many large unsightly items as part of its recent coastal clean-up, but the amount of tiny bits of debris is what weighed most heavy on them.
After receiving a grant from the provincial Clean Coast, Clean Water initiative, the Quadra Island-based kayak tour guides enthusiastically went to work – sometimes in nasty weather conditions – to make the Northern Discovery Islands a nicer place to show their clients.
“It was one of the most extreme falls we’ve seen with the winds and the rains we had,” Operations Assistant Tania McMartin said. “And then there was also some difficult logistics.”
With the help of local We Wai Kai First Nations, and a large crane, staff removed a giant 6,000-pound tire from Rebecca Spit.
“I’ve lived on Quadra for about 16 years, and I remember my kids playing on the tire when we first moved here,” McMartin said. “It was settled in, buried half in the sand.”
She also noted the clean-up involved disposing of a ‘smashed-up fibreglass boat’, which was somehow hanging from a cliff, and hauling in a giant buoy, which had become a big navigational hazard.
Also included in the 110,000 pound haul were a refrigerator, a deep freeze, several outboard motors, some vinyl record albums, and 189 shoes (102 left and 87 right).
During the 12 weeks the coastline clean-up took place, the majority of the items gathered were small or light like Styrofoam, which is seemingly everywhere, according to McMartin.
“You could go out there every day, and it just keeps coming,” she said. “It weighed really heavy on our hearts, just the sheer volume.”
Much of the waste was a result of shellfish farming companies abandoning their operations sites without adequately cleaning up, she added, noting there were a myriad of fish farm hoops, baskets, predator nets, buoys, styrofoam dock floats to be found along the 357 kilometre of coast line covered.
“You’ve got to wonder who should be held accountable for this,” McMartin said, before noting some working shellfish farms came and collected whatever they could re-use.
While Spirit of the West Adventures hopes to get back to its bread-and-butter of guiding people to magical local places, McMartin said she would like to see the province continues to put money towards clean up efforts.
“We’re really hoping that this will become an ongoing project and that there will be continuous funding for this,” she said.
To learn more about the project visit www.kayakingtours.com/marine-debris/