The British Columbia government is helping protect and restore B.C.’s marine environment with a further investment in the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund. Projects funded through this program have so far removed derelict vessels and cleaned up marine debris from more than 4,600 kilometres of shoreline, while creating more than 1,700 jobs.

“I am honoured to stand with First Nations and partner organizations who are taking a leadership role in cleaning up marine debris and plastic pollution. The Clean Coast, Clean Waters projects have and continue to help protect and restore the health of our marine ecosystems. All British Columbians deserve access to a healthy environment,” said George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “As part of our government’s broader CleanBC Plastics Action Plan to reduce plastic waste and pollution, these projects are protecting our coastlines for the benefit of our communities now and for the future.”

An additional $25 million in one-time funding will more than double the B.C. government’s investment in the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund, for a total of approximately $50 million. The Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative will receive $4 million, bringing its total funding to $7.5 million since 2020. The remaining $21 million will be awarded to successful funding applicants through a merit-based assessment process, administered by PwC Canada.

“The Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative has removed over 1,500 tonnes of marine debris to date, including 118 derelict vessels,” said Nathan Cullen, B.C.’s Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship. “Preventing and cleaning up marine pollution is essential to a healthy and productive coast, and is one aspect of our vision for B.C.’s future as we develop a Coastal Marine Strategy in partnership with First Nations.”

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Eligible funding applicants for the merit-based process include coastal First Nations and local governments, as well as non-profits and others with expertise in shoreline debris cleanup or removal of derelict vessels. The funding will be distributed in two rounds, one this spring and another planned for early 2024.

The first application period has ended. Successful recipients will be notified in June to allow projects to begin this summer. Projects from the first round must be completed, have their data collected and final reports submitted by Feb. 29, 2024.

Marine debris is collected and managed appropriately, with the goal of recycling as much as possible to reduce the amount of material going to landfills. To date, 64 per cent of shoreline materials have been recycled or upcycled. Recyclable items are sent to the Ocean Legacy Foundation facility in Steveston for processing into new products, such as pellets that can be used to create new plastic materials.

The Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative brings together nine First Nations living on B.C.’s North and Central Coasts, and Haida Gwaii. They aim to restore and protect ecosystems through sustainable resource management practices, which promote self-sufficiency and improve the quality of life for people in these communities.

“These shoreline cleanup projects are not just important for keeping coastal territories clean, they also support the transfer of Indigenous knowledge and practices to a younger generation,” said Christine Smith-Martin, chief executive officer of the Coastal First Nations-Great Bear Initiative. “By sharing their success stories, best practices and challenges in marine debris collection and monitoring, First Nations across the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii continue to work together as stewards of the land and sea.”

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Clean Coast, Clean Waters is part of the CleanBC Plastics Action Plan. Its goal is to reduce plastic waste and pollution. The government is developing B.C.’s first Coastal Marine Strategy to govern and plan for securing vast marine ecosystems and blue economy in the long term. The strategy guides improved stewardship of coastal marine environments, advances reconciliation with First Nations and fosters coastal community resilience.

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