A man and a woman carrying plastic aquaculture trays, a large styorfoam and other marine debris

Mothers Day Beach Clean-up on Cortes Island

On Mother’s Day (May 8), a dozen volunteers removed two pick-up truck loads of debris, from the beach between Hollyhock and Seaford. 

“We’ve had a winter’s worth of storms, blowing things up, and this beach that we’re working today from Hollyhock, basically up to Seascape Road. this is a huge collector facing the southeast, the open Strait of Georgia with Victoria, east Vancouver Island and all the Sunshine Coast communities. Anything that gets put in the water ends up right about here,” explained Mike Moore, one of the Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI) volunteers.

Pulling rope up in a cleaner section of beach – Photo by Roy L Hales

There were isolated strands of rope, plastics and other debris, but the beach seemed relatively clean and expectations were initially low.  

Combing a relatively clean beach – Photo by Roy L Hales

“Cortes Island has been the beneficiary of a big clean up that was sponsored by the federal and provincial governments last year. They put eco-tour ships and they’re ‘out of work crews’ to work cleaning the beaches all the way up to the central coast,” said Moore.

“I had friends that were working out of the Goose Group and the west coast of Vancouver Island and the Inside Passage here. Spirit of the West worked the north and west side of Cortes Island and another group, out of the Sunshine Coast, worked the east coast of Cortes Island.” 

Some of the debris above the high tide line – Photo by Carolyn Howson

Piles of styrofoam, aquaculture debris and tires were discovered above the waterline during the Mother’s Day clean-up. Some of it was packed into the truck waiting at Seaford Road. A procession of volunteers carried more back to Hollyhock.

Moore said he will return with a zodiac, at high tide, to collect what remains.

Pick-up truck load #1 at Seascape Road – Photo by Carolyn Howson

After the work was finished, the volunteers gathered around a campfire. Someone from the Hollyhock kitchen brought down some of the chocolatiest hot chocolate ever. There were also regular and vegie dogs.  

The event was sponsored by FOCI, Hollyhock, and ‘10,000 Whales.’

Truck load # 2 (at Hollyhock) – Photo by Roy L Hales

Moore said the Cortes Island aquaculture sector is waiting for the new transfer station to open in Cumberland before they clean up Gorge Harbour. The debris will be transferred from there down to a processing plant in Richmond.

“They sort the plastics, clean it up and then they reprocess it into plastic nurdles that can be used for manufacturing other goods,” he explained.

Top image credit: some of the Aquaculture debris – Photo by Helen Hall

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