Addressing Abandoned Vessels, Marine Debris and Marine-Sourced Plastics in B.C.

Ocean plastic is an important and emerging focus for environmental protection in the province. The issues of abandoned vessels, marine debris, and marine-sourced plastics are complex. Finding ways to reduce and respond to them will require creative thinking and collaborative efforts by various levels of government, Indigenous communities, industry, organizations, and British Columbians.

The provincial government is working to protect people and the B.C. coastline. This summer, Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo and parliamentary secretary for environment travelled the coast to meet with Indigenous communities, local government and community groups. She heard about their experiences and learned about barriers to finding solutions. Individuals and groups are finding ways to prevent and respond to these issues locally and the parliamentary secretary for environment examined how to support and enhance this work. Through these conversations, MLA Malcolmson explored important questions with British Columbians: What provincial tools can prevent vessels from being abandoned in the first place? Are there recycling solutions to keep salvaged marine debris out of landfills? What are innovative ideas the government has not yet considered? These are some of the questions the parliamentary secretary for environment has been seeking answers to.

A February 2020 What We Heard on Marine Debris in BC report has been prepared which highlights the obstacles faced by communities, ideas to address these obstacles and the innovative solutions and programs developed by local groups. You can now read the report online.

A Fall 2019 Progress Report was prepared to update interested parties on the project, provide a snapshot of What We Heard, and present some next steps. You can now read the report online. 

Sheila Malcolmson, Parliamentary Secretary for Environment, and Ministers participate in beach clean-up near Tofino. MLA Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman and Minister for Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser took part in a beach clean-up on one of the George Fraser Islands on July 5, 2019. Along with community representatives from Tofino and Ucluelet, a large quantity of waste was collected after a morning of beachcombing. The group collected debris consisting mostly of plastic and ranging from fishing nets to StyrofoamTM and marine floats. Beach clean-ups are an important way to prevent plastic waste and other litter from breaking down and entering the ocean. Thank you for the continued efforts of volunteers and local groups in tackling this issue.

Beach clean-up debris from George Fraser Islands, July 5, 2019

Want to get involved?

Thank you for your contributions. The next step will be presenting Minister George Heyman with a recommendations report.