September 27, 2016 12:21 pm
Updated: October 3, 2016 10:28 pm

40 tonnes of ocean garbage collected off Vancouver Island, unloaded in Richmond

WATCH: A barge loaded with 40 tonnes of marine garbage collected by volunteers arrived in Richmond Tuesday. And while it was expected that most of it would be leftover from the 2011 Japanese Tsunami, the real story is even more disturbing. Linda Aylesworth reports.

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A barge filled with 40 tonnes of marine debris gathered by hundreds of volunteers from the west coast of Vancouver Island docked in Richmond Monday night.

A portion of the debris collected, including fishing gear, industrial waste and Styrofoam, comes from the 2011 Japanese tsunami, which sent piles of marine garbage moving across the Pacific Ocean and to the rugged shorelines of British Columbia.

READ MORE: Environmental, emotional impact from Japanese tsunami still felt in B.C.

Residents and several key groups on Vancouver Island have been sounding the alarm about the pollution for years.

WATCH RAW: Volunteers sorting the debris


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This month, the Vancouver Island Marine Debris Working Group along with the Ministry of Environment, BC Parks, Parks Canada, various businesses and numerous volunteers in British Columbia stepped up their efforts to remove marine debris from the shorelines and beaches of Vancouver Island. The campaign was funded in large part by $1-million donation from the government of Japan.

READ MORE: Haida Gwaii caught in the midst of world plastic pollution

The collection of the debris started on Sept.20 at Cape Scott in the north of Vancouver Island.

Over the last five months, the Vancouver Island Marine Debris Working Group packed the garbage collected by volunteers into super sacks — one-tonne agriculture bags. It is estimated that 350 of these bags along with approximately 300 assorted debris loads were loaded onto the barge.

On Saturday, a helicopter long lined approximately 15 tonnes of consolidated marine debris onto the barge in Ucluelet.

In August, the District of Ucluelet, with the help of Parks Canada staff and numerous local volunteers, collected 84 supersacks and 25 assorted debris loads on Keith Island in the Broken Group Islands in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

WATCH BELOW:About 40 tonnes of marine debris was collected from the west coast of Vancouver Island and barged to Delta. And as we hear from Grace Ke, efforts are now being made to recycle much of it.

“This is perhaps a tenth of what’s really out there,” says Karen Wristen with Living Oceans Society. “The debris collects in every single pocket beach. Some of them are completely inaccessible.”

READ MORE: Why our oceans are choking on our garbage and how we can stop it

Once all the loads were collected, the 150-foot barge made its way into Richmond, where the debris will be sorted.

The public is invited to come down and give volunteers a hand this weekend.

Volunteers can sign up on Facebook, at Greet the GarBarge to assist with sorting and take home any useful items. The sorting will take place on Oct. 1 and 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Wristen says they hope to recycle some of the debris, but the balance of it is likely to end up in the landfill.

READ MORE: Plastic in ocean could outweigh fish by 2050

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