British Columbia

Volunteer Tofino beach cleanup removes 900 kg of shipping container debris

After debris from shipping containers washed up on the beaches of Pacific Rim National Park, 50 volunteers spent last weekend picking up the pieces.

Mayor says efforts 'heartening and encouraging,' but more coordination needed for debris spills

A group of the Pacific Rim chapter of Surfriders pose with some of the debris they pulled off the beaches of Pacific Rim National Park. (Erin Willows)

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne says a weekend beach clean-up in Tofino to deal with shipping container debris was a success.

50 volunteers removed over 900 kg of debris from Pacific Rim National Park, much of it consisting of styrofoam.

But she cautioned that there are issues of responsibility around beach garbage that need to be considered for the future.

"Any time we have a spill incident, we do need a quick response, perhaps something a bit more coordinated than what we saw," she told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

"It's very difficult for those of us on the ground to know who's responsible for what: Transport Canada, Parks Canada, Coast Guard, DFO, … I think that would help a lot if we had that coordinated response."

The cleanup was necessary because of 35 shipping containers lost by the ship Hanjin Seattle, owned by a company that has now declared bankruptcy.

Osborne says the effort, spearheaded by environmentalist surfer group Surfriders, was "heartening and encouraging to see," but as beach pollution continues to be a serious issue on the west coast of Vancouver Island, more needs to be done.

"What we need is something a little more concerted than this. We can't just rely on volunteers to do these things when there's a spill," she said.

Osborne says the container debris is "a drop in the bucket" compared to the everyday garbage left on local beaches, and she says visitors have a role to play in keeping the beaches free of trash.

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West

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