British Columbia

Scouring the beaches: volunteers collect beach trash to mark World Oceans Day

Meanwhile the federal government marked World Oceans Day on Saturday by announcing $13 million in new funding for Canada's coastal ecosystems.

Ottawa announced $13M for Canada's coastal habitats on day meant to celebrate, protect oceans

A volunteer collects tiny pieces of plastic and other litter from a beach in Vancouver on Saturday, to mark World Oceans Day. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

Dozens of people scoured a beach in Vancouver looking for little pieces of plastic and other litter to mark World Oceans Day, one of several similar events held across Canada.

Since 2002, people around the world have come together on June 8 to collectively honour the importance of oceans.

Mason Vander Ploeg, 11, was one of about 100 people who cleaned up a beach in Vancouver's English Bay.

He says he's seen animals eating garbage on beaches.

"I've seen lots of birds eating straws, little pieces of hard plastic," he said. 

Mason Vander Pleog, 11, is passionate about doing his part to reduce garbage and waste in the environment. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

Vander Pleog runs a social media page, which he uses to help convince people to do things to protect the Earth, such as cleaning up garbage.

"The more you do it, it just gets fun," he said.

This is some of the waste volunteers collected from a beach in Vancouver Saturday. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

The federal government marked World Oceans Day on Saturday by announcing $13 million in new funding for Canada's coastal ecosystems.

Federal Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said the money would support an additional 24 projects under Ottawa's Coastal Restoration Fund to help restore habitats along Canada's shorelines.

It's the third instalment distributed to the fund, which has previously supported 40 projects across the country. 

According to the ministry, the projects include recovering wild salmon habitats affected by climate change and mitigating the impacts of infrastructure development on coastal ecosystems.

Wilkinson also announced a $5-million investment in nine new data collection projects in the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, in order to assess the impacts of shipping traffic and climate change on the coast.

Both are part of the federal government's $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan launched in 2016.

Adrian Midwood, executive director of Plastic Oceans, which runs campaigns to reduce waste ending up in the ocean, says all the efforts, from government policies to beach cleanups, are helping.

Adrian Midwood with Plastic Oceans says he's impressed with how average people are committing to keep waste out of the ocean. (Nic Amaya/CBC)

He said Saturday at the Vancouver beach cleanup that just a year ago volunteers would have found many plastic straws.

This year there were none, thanks to companies phasing out their use, but also a greater social awareness about waste and its impact.

"So that's actually really good news to see that these things are working, the social consciousness is getting up to [a] high level, which means we're going to see a reduction in pollution," he said.

With files from Canadian Press