A student winces as he holds up a bag of dog waste, which was removed – along with other garbage and debris – from Crescent Beach, Surrey during the 2017 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Black Press file photo

Big Beach Cleanup looking for volunteers

Plastic is the most common ocean debris found on beaches

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is looking for volunteers to help clean up local beaches.

As part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, the DFO, along with the BC Shellfish Growers Association, the Association of Denman Island Marine Stewards and the World Wildlife Fund, is organizing cleanups along the Baynes Sound from Sept. 12 to Sept. 22.

Shelley Jepps, senior shellfish and freshwater aquaculture biologist with the DFO, says garbage in the ocean can have detrimental impacts to ecosystems. She adds most of the debris that is found along the shorelines is plastic from a wide range of sources.

“Just humans using the environment – we’re terrible. We discard our garbage all over the place,” she said. “Impacts can range from animals ingesting plastics, they can become entangled or entrapped and plastics can act as a vector to transport invasive aquatic species as can all marine debris.

“But it’s not just a marine mammal issue, it’s not just a fish issue, it impacts humans as well. We’re finding out more and more about how the plastics get in the organisms that we eat, but it also just [impacts] our enjoyment of the environment.”

Chris Marrie, aquaculture support biologist with the DFO, says volunteers should be prepared for the weather.

“This event is going to be rain or shine. They should dress with good sturdy footwear – rubber boots if it’s wet – but we don’t expect anybody to actually go into the ocean. Everything’s going to be washed up above the high tide line.”

He adds that gloves will be provided for those who need them.

Volunteers will be assigned to different sections of the beach and Marrie says each section typically takes an hour or two to clean.

There are five different cleanups scheduled in the Baynes Sound:

  • Fanny Bay, Sept. 14 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Gartley Point, Royston, Sept. 15 at 12:30 a.m.
  • Union Bay, Sept. 19 at 12 p.m.
  • Buckley Bay, Sept. 21 at 12:30 p.m.
  • Deep Bay, Sept. 22 at 9:30 a.m.

To sign up for the cleanup, email Shellfish.Aquaculture@dfo-mpo.g.ca or call 250-850-9475.

For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2NELApZ

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