Volunteers carry a washed up dock and other garbage from the beach clean up in Parksville in support of World Oceans Day. Roughly 40 people came out to the clean up that was followed by a discussion with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson and a number of stakeholders throughout Vancouver Island and the mainland. — Lauren Collins photo

Vancouver Island ‘ground zero’ for ocean plastics issue: Courtenay-Alberni MP

Gord Johns hosts World Oceans Day event in Parksville

The Courtenay-Alberni MP says Vancouver Island is ‘ground zero’ of the ocean plastics crisis.

MP Gord Johns hosted a World Oceans Day at Parksville Community Park beach Friday (June 8) with a theme of issues surrounding ocean plastics. Roughly 40 people turned out for a beach clean up that was followed by a discussion with stakeholders and volunteers.

The discussion included Johns, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson who spoke briefly on her abandoned vessels bill, members of Ocean Legacy, Communities Protecting our Coast, Tbuck Suzuki, Calyoquot Cleanup, Surfrider Foundation Canada, West Coast Aquatic, Denman Island Marine Stewards, Ucluelet Aquarium and Vancouver Aquarium.

While the beach clean up turned up a slection of garbage such as single-use plastics, styrofoam, cigarette butts and more, Johns said the Parksville beach wasn’t as bad as some others he’s seen.

“This beach is pretty much clean because of the stewardship of the community,” Johns said.

But he said what was found could have been prevented.

The theme for the Parksville World Oceans Day event was ocean plastics and the leadership taking place on Vancouver Island to address those issues.

“We know how serious it is here on Vancouver Island, especially on the west coast of the Island. It’s mind-boggling when you see the amount of plastics that’s on our beaches.”

While a lot of discussions regarding ocean plastics and marine debris are taking place on the Island, Johns said it’s being noticed elsewhere such as Ottawa and it will be part of the discussions at the G7 meeting. He also said the Regional District of Nanaimo’s marine litter resolution “passed at almost 95 per cent support” at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities annual conference June 1-3 in Halifax.

RELATED: FCM to bring RDN’s marine litter resolution out nationally

“That motion mirrors our (national ocean plastics) motion, so it shows again — just like the Silver King — local government with federal leaders, Vancouver Islanders standing in solidarity, saying ‘This is important,’” said Johns, referring to the previous derelict vessels issue in Deep Bay, specifically the 100-foot Silver King.

RELATED: Shellfish operations in jeopardy: two derelict boats sink in Deep Bay

Send story tips: lauren.collins@pqbnews.com

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