Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)

It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

Vancouver resident Chloé Dubois, co-founder of Ocean Legacy Foundation, is calling upon British Columbians who want to help save the ocean and its inhabitants this Earth Day.

She’s created a free online curriculum from eight years’ worth of fieldwork removing industrial and everyday waste pollution from the province’s shoreline.

“We’re at a precipice right now – in our province, we are producing more plastic than we can capture. If business continues as usual, our oceans will be polluted to the point of non-repair.”

“We have the ability to change the course of our oceans, so they can be able to continue to support life,” Dubois said.

Ocean Legacy Foundation’s launch of E.P.I.C. Academy will instruct people of all ages on plastic pollution and how it can be prevented or reduced.

It’s a plastic pollution emergency response program that incorporates a four-pillar hands-on approach: education, policy, infrastructure and cleanup.

The online course will educate learners on the oil and shale production, or the plastics industry – which is looking to double within the next decade.

“What that’s going to do is produce more plastic waste than we have the infrastructure to capture and process,” Dubois said.

“Without intervention, global ocean plastics are expected to double by 2035. If practices remain unchanged there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean (by weight) by 2050.”

READ MORE: The race is on in B.C. to ban single-use plastics

The 10-lesson platform has been more than a year in the making, by OLF, which has removed approximately 85,000 kilograms of plastic from 146 kilometers of shoreline.

E.P.I.C. outlines how plastic pollution damages marine habitats and “suffocates and entangles” wildlife including seals and birds.

OLP is advocating for companies to redesign products or the government to create the infrastructure that can recirculate single-use plastics back into use.

On the east coast of Vancouver Island, Dubois said cleanup teams have witnessed 80 per cent of shoreline pollution caused by styrofoam breaking down and debris spreading.

“We’ve also noticed a lot of industrial waste, including oyster baskets and netting,” she said.

On the west coast, Dubois said it’s been a majority of international industry waste from Russia, China, and Japan transported by ocean currents.

“We live in such a beautiful pristine environment,” she said, but once the plastics do get into the environment they damage and alter the habitat.

“If you want to do something about it, we’ve created E.P.I.C. as a tool.”

The curriculum is available in French, Spanish, and English. Each of the lessons takes 90 minutes to complete.



sarah.grochowski@bpdigital.ca

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