A Small Island Awash in Plastic Debris

After 14 years of Community Beach Cleanups, Denman Island continues to be burdened with an unending flood of industrial plastic debris washing up on its beaches. Each year over 150 volunteers from Denman Island take part in the ADIMS event to tackle this ongoing pollution of their beautiful shoreline.

The beach cleanup has, sadly, become an annual tradition, one that everyone wishes would not have to take place next year. The volume of plastic debris landing on Denman’s shores continues to shock and overwhelm the island community.

This year, 2018, the beach cleanup on Denman alone yielded the largest amount of plastic debris to date, over 6 tons. This is despite this year’s Earth Day spring cleanup, organized in the hope that it would reduce the tonnage of debris collected in the annual fall cleanup.

For the second year, the beach cleanup was expanded to include all of Baynes Sound. ADIMS was joined by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the BC Shellfish Growers Association (BCSGA), who organized beach cleanups of Baynes Sound’s western shores.

Marine debris comes from many sources, including storm drains, fishing boats, and shellfish aquaculture facilities. However, ninety percent (90%) of the plastic debris comes from the shellfish aquaculture industry: oyster trays, anti-predator netting, plastic fencing, plastic net bags, plastic floats, styrofoam floats for rafts, and thousands of pieces of rope.

Baynes Sound is a shellfish aquaculture hotspot. It produces 50% of BC’s commercially grown oysters and clams. And winds and tides drive a huge amount of shellfish growers gear and equipment—it is a plastic-intensive industry—onto Denman Island’s shores.

One Denman volunteer explains, “There is just so much plastic debris continually washing up on our beaches. We just finished cleaning the whole island last September, and there was another smaller cleanup for Earth Day in the spring, and now we are still collecting truckload after truckload just a few months later.”

Denman volunteers worked all week collecting marine debris from the Denman Island shores, on foot and by boat. Over 40 students from Denman Island Community School joined more than 100 community volunteers. Ninety-two year-old Jim McConkey, pictured here, was the eldest volunteer this year.

At the same time, Comox Valley volunteers cleaned up the beaches of Baynes Sound west.

All plastic debris collected on Denman is sorted by volunteers on the Saturday of ‘beach cleanup week’. Ocean Legacy, a nonprofit plastics recycler, transports the many truckloads of plastic to Vancouver, so very little of what is collected goes to the landfill site. All reusable gear and equipment is returned to the shellfish growers whenever possible.

All three organizations (ADIMS, DFO, BCSGA) recognize that marine debris, particularly plastic debris, is a serious environmental concern.  Regardless of the source, it is important that we remove debris from marine environments to prevent the degradation of important habitat.

In addition to being the centre of BC’s shellfish growing industry, Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel support a wide range of species. In particular, this is one of the most important spawning and rearing grounds on the BC coast for Pacific herring.

Beach Cleanup - September 15 to 22, 2018

14th Annual Denman Island Community Beach Cleanup

September 15 to 22, 2018

Denman Island Debris Drop Off Event:

Saturday, September 22, 2018, 9.30 am to 1 pm.

Debris Drop Off Location:

Marcus Isbister Old School Centre - recycling area

We will be working again this year with our neighbouring communities in a joint ‘BIG BEACH CLEANUP’ to include shorelines of Baynes Sound & Lambert Channel.

This event is sponsored by the Association for Denman Island Marine Stewards (ADIMS), the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), and the BC Shellfish Growers Association (BCSGA).

Our beach cleanup is registered in the Vancouver Aquarium’s ‘Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup’.   [www.shorelinecleanup.ca]

Here is how you can get involved, register and participate!

  • Sign up for a beach or a team
    ADIMS will have a registration table Saturday Sept. 8 & 15 at the Farmers Market. You can register to clean a specific area assigned from the Denman Island map, or you can sign up with one of our teams. You can also register by email or phone.
    ADIMS Beach Cleanup Coordinator Contact: Liz Johnston: lizjj@telus.net
  • Clean your designated shoreline area anytime during the week, to fit tides and your schedule, or work with a specific team on the beaches, or assist with sorting and loading.
  • In the morning of Saturday Sept. 22, bring all your beach debris to the Old School recycling area for sorting and loading onto trucks.
  • Or, drop off debris any time during the week at the Old School Recycling Centre if you can’t make it to the Saturday drop off event. Phone for pickup assistance or info.

After 11 am, participants are welcome to take any reusable items.

After 12 pm, volunteers will load trucks and complete sorting & recycling.

A wind-up beach party or event will be announced later (weather permitting).

We share a common interest in protecting our local waters from the negative impacts associated with marine plastic and debris. Please sign up and join this community event!

ADIMS Email: adimsinfo@gmail.com

Website: www.adims.ca

ADIMS Beach Cleanup Coordinator:  Liz Johnston  [lizjj@telus.net]

Geoduck aquaculture

Applying pressure against geoduck aquaculture with our petitions

When DFO released its Integrated Geoduck Management Framework in March of 2017, we at ADIMS responded with a petition calling for a moratorium on geoduck aquaculture until it was proven safe within the marine environment.

Ninety percent (90%!) of Denman’s western shore is used by the shellfish growing industry. Geoduck aquaculture would further intensify industrial activity in the intertidal zone, and increase the threat to the marine ecosystem. The tenure applications for subtidal geoduck aquaculture are in the areas where herring spawn, on the north eastern side of the island. These installations could entangle spawning herring in netting, and degrade the spawning habitat. Added to those problems, the amount of plastic debris and microplastics that would be generated is dangerous and unacceptable.

We brought our paper petition to a couple of events in the following months, and several hundred Denman residents signed it. However, we realized we would need a more efficient means to gather emough names to influence decision makers in DFO, and politicians.

We had to up our game, so we put our petition online at Change.org. At the same time, we redesigned our website, adims.ca, to include a Take Action link to the petition. Since the website came online six weeks ago, we have gathered about 1100 signatures. With promotion, we could probably gather many more signatures, but now we’ve been given a chance to up our game once more.

Gord Johns, our Member of Parliament, has offered to sponsor our petition against geoduck aquaculture in Parliament. This will give us the opportunity to directly address Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister for Fisheries and Oceans, and challenge him to declare a moratorium on our coast.

Just 25 signatures give Gord Johns the chance to rise in the House and
speak about the issue of geoduck aquaculture.

This August, ADIMS directors will be at the Saturday Market gathering signatures, to prepare for the Fall session of Parliament.

  • Those who have signed the previous petition may sign this new petition.

We want to give Gord Johns the opportunity to speak on behalf of protecting our marine ecosystem from a scheme that contaminates it with plastic, and degrades critical fish habitat.

World Oceans Day is June 8th

Oceans of Wisdom is a multimedia performance and art exhibition produced by a collaborative creative team led by Sussan Thomson and Wendy Pope. Poets, artists, musicians, dancers and other performers come together to celebrate World Oceans Day: June 8th, 2018.

Baynes Sound/Lambert Channel Marine Ecosystem Forum: May 22-23, 2018

Islands Trust and World Wildlife Fund together have organized the Baynes Sound/Lambert Channel Marine Ecosystem Forum.

ADIMS will join over 40 participants gathering at the Kingfisher Inn, in Royston BC, for two days of intensive discussion and problem-solving, May 22nd and 23rd.

Participants include representatives from federal, provincial, and municipal governments, from First Nations including the K'omoks First Nation, from the BC Shellfish Growers Association, and from eco-NGOs including West Coast Environmental Law.

Over the two days, participants will identify challenges confronting the marine ecosystems of Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel, and work toward shared actions that will improve the marine environment.

The aims of the forum are:

  • to create an opportunity for collaborative dialogue among the diverse interests in Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel
  • to share knowledge and experience that can inform solutions
  • to identify collaborative actions to support the health of Baynes Sound and Lambert Channel

Earth Day 2018: Beach Cleanup April 21

ADIMS Spring Cleaning beach cleanup will be
Saturday April 21, 2018

Let’s make a clean sweep of our beaches to honour Earth Day the following day (April 22nd).

A lot of plastic debris washed ashore this winter. We’ve come to expect a ‘usual’ amount – an extremely regrettable state – and what’s lying around out there right now is more than usual.  To deal with the volume, we’ve decided on a spring cleanup in addition to our annual cleanup in September.

We’re asking you, or maybe you and a neighbour or two, to clean a nearby beach. Gathering up plastic materials is especially important. By getting those plastic things off the beach, we can prevent them from degrading in the sun and salt water, and adding to the microplastics pollution load in our oceans.

Drop off collected beach debris at the Old School Centre
between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm.

As we do in the cleanup every fall, ADIMS volunteers will sort and recycle everything collected.

  • Ocean Legacy will help us out with recycling the plastic debris through their Plastics to Fuel program.
  • Reusable aquaculture equipment will be recycled with assistance from the BC Shellfish Growers Association (BCSGA).
More info:     adimsinfo@gmail.com

The official theme for Earth Day 2018 is End Plastic Pollution.
Check out the campaign:   www.earthday.org

When plastics degrade they release toxins that persist in our environment

Spring Cleaning!

Why wait for the fall? The sheer tonnage of debris we collect from our beaches every year has got us thinking about a semi-annual cleanup. We're organizing a cleanup in April: details coming soon.

Herring Bulletin 2: March 9, 2018

Mike Morrell gives an update
on this year's herring run

DFO HERRING BULLETIN 2: Thursday March 8, 2018

This report by Mike Morrell was originally posted
on the Denman Conservancy Association's Facebook page on March 9


Late this afternoon, Thursday 8 March, a large spawn began all around Chrome Island off Boyle Point. The seine fleet converged on the area (along with large numbers of gulls and sea lions) and finally began to land some fish. The spawn propagated along the west side of Denman ["east" in original post--MM] to Repulse Point and along the Vancouver Island side at least to Deep Bay. By dark the main mass of fish appeared to be concentrated north of Repulse in the vicinity of the Hinton Rd access, with the seine fleet fishing just offshore.

DFO's Wednesday spawn flight reported a heavy spawn to the north of us, from Cape Lazo to Little River (Powell River ferry terminal). These fish are likely the mass of mature fish that have been reported for the last week between Komas Bluff and Cape Lazo.

Since my last report Monday 5 March on the large spawn along the east coast of Vancouver Island south of Denman, I've been traveling the Denman and Hornby shorelines, including a boat trip from Ford Cove in south Lambert Channel, Hornby, around the south shore of Hornby to Flora Island off Helliwell Park. There continued to be plenty of indications of fish in the area, as reported by DFO assessments, but little or no new spawning, except for reports I was unable to confirm of small spawns along the N and NE shore of Hornby. DFO was assessing Lambert Channel and Hornby Wednesday, but the results have not been reported online.

The large spawn that began in Qualicum Bay last Friday 2 Mar has continued to propagate south along the coast, reaching nearly to Nanoose Bay by Monday evening. More recent DFO assessment work has located another 8,000 tons of herring south to Nanaimo and Dodd Narrows. DFO conducted an aerial spawn survey Weds 7 Mar, but the results to the south of Nanoose have not yet been reported.

The gillnetters have been fishing south of us since Friday and achieved their quota of 11,177 tons Weds evening, ending the gillnet fishery for this year. The seiners had a short opening Monday afternoon in the Nile Creek area, just north of the gillnet fleet, but they landed only 105 tons and remained far short of their nearly 11,000 ton quota with no further openings until this afternoon.

Mike Morrell for DCA

Herring Bulletin 1: March 5, 2018

Mike Morrell reports on this year's herring run

DFO HERRING BULLETIN: Monday March 5, 2018

This report by Mike Morrell was originally posted
on the Denman Conservancy Association  Facebook page on March 6, 2018.

The most recent sonar estimate for herring in Area 14 (Oyster Bay - Northwest Bay near Nanoose) is 75,000 tons. Of the total, 50k are south of us between Nile Cr and Northwest Bay, and the balance are around Denman and Hornby.

Monday morning, assessment vessels estimated 5,000 tons off NE Denman. A test set found a 10.3% roe yield in a sample of this group, indicating that their eggs are mature and a spawn may occur any time.

Sunday there was a large body of fish estimated at 20,000 tons in the southern part of Lambert Channel; preliminary results of tests of these fish indicated that roe was not yet mature (i.e. spawning some days away). Monday morning's sonar assessments in Baynes Sound found only about 400 tons. Assessments in recent days have estimated around 4,000 tons east and south of Hornby.

The gillnet fishery continued Monday on a large spawn covering most of the Vancouver Island shoreline from Nile Creek to Northwest Bay. As of Monday morning the gillnet catch was estimated at 7,700 tons of the 11,000 ton gillnet quota. One gillnet crewman I spoke with Monday afternoon at French Creek Marina said that his boat had filled their individual quota, and a second crew said they were close.

Monday morning I counted 42 seiners off Nile Creek, about 13km south of Boyle Point. Apparently they were hoping for an opening there, but I continued south and don't know whether they fished. Through Sunday the seines had not filled much of their 10,800 ton quota. They are waiting for the right combination of quantity of fish and roe quality in an area that is fishable with their gear.

Mike Morrell for DCA

Beach Cleanup video

Hope you enjoy our most recent video, created by the talented Sussan Thomson, featuring the 13th annual beach cleanup in September 2017.