Residents and Shore Keepers tackle shoreline clean up

Lou Skinner, on behalf of Gabriola Shore Keepers

Wednesday, January 27 2021

Some residents of Decourcy Drive and members of the Gabriola Island Shore Keepers Association (GISKA) have spent hours in January dealing with an abandoned dock that had become lodged at the high tide line on the beach just around the corner from Turtle Rock.  Although the dock, which was constructed of styrofoam, metal mesh, concrete and wooden beams, had been there for several years, it was at the end of November that it began to break up, spewing disintegrating styrofoam chunks onto the beach.  The styrofoam, a petroleum product, looks like fish eggs and therefore attractive to birds and fish and so easily enters the food chain where it impacts development.

Since 2019, residents living nearby contacted local, provincial and federal governments as well as numerous organizations for help with removing this source of marine pollution.  At Shore Keepers’ request, SeaChange Marine Conservation Society was prepared to remove it during its 2021 spring clean-up and Sheila Malcolmson and Paul Manley’s staff worked to get assistance but no organization would take responsibility for clean up of this type.

As Shorekeepers made plans to deconstruct the dock, nature took over and during the storm of January 13, the dock was smashed and chunks concrete and styrofoam were flung meters away.  Nobody knows how much was washed out to sea.

On Saturday, January 16, local residents, friends and members of Shorekeepers held a socially distanced, masked work party to gather and dispose of the dock pieces.  Sadly, pellets of styrofoam will remain for years to come under logs and in the sand and seagrass.  

The experience has highlighted the need for improved local beach clean-up.  Gabriola Island Shore Keepers Association is currently working to partner with SeaChange and the Rugged Coast Research Society for funding available as part of the BC Government’s “BC Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund”. This fund is accepting applications for derelict vessel removal and marine shoreline clean-up. 

GISKA is aiming to inventory shoreline debris on all beaches and rocky shores around the island over the next few weeks, and will be soliciting any interested persons from the Gabriola community to assist. For more details please contact Laura-Jean Kelly (laura-jean@topographics.ca) or Isobel Pearsall (pearsalli@shaw.ca). Alternatively, please message us at our Gabriola Island Shore Keepers Association Facebook Site.

Thank you!