Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Clear the Coast

Clear the Coast 2019

It's happening, but it's going to be pretty bare bones this year! Only thanks to our generous donors and small grants from BC Parks and Boating BC, we'll be able to mount the expedition to Sea Otter Cove.  As I write, there is no funding at all for removal of the debris from the magnificent and productive habitat of northwest Vancouver Island.

Please read on if you're interested in volunteering this year!

The cleanups to date:

Living Oceans has been pleased to assist volunteer groups who have bagged debris at the following locations:

Map of northern Vancouver Island beaches

Grant Bay, Hecht Beach, Cape Palmerston

The cleanups to come:

We're still looking for hardy souls to clean up:

Raft Cove:  a moderately difficult hike of 45 min-1 hour and a very large and beautiful beach to clean up at the other end. Expect to camp 2 nights; and on the day you leave, plan to stop by Cape Palmerston for a quick hike out to check the cache--just to close up the bags, bag any remaining debris and ensure it's securely tied to shore. If you're up for it, please contact Karen at kwristen [at]

Raft Cove Vista
Raft Cove Vista


August 17-31:  Sea Otter Cove Expedition


Map of Cape Scott beaches

Depart Port Hardy August 17, 2019 at 07:00 by sailboat; arrive Sea Otter Cove August 17 late afternoon. Campsites available ashore; meals to be provided on board the sailboat.  Hike daily to nearby beaches for cleanup.  A crew change may be possible mid-way through the trip for those not wishing to remain a full 2 weeks.  Sign up for the first, second or both weeks by contacting Karen at kwristen [at]


Our Volunteers make the Difference

Our 2014 crew dubbed themselves the "geriatric overachievers" and were so much on the go that we never got them all in one place for the group photo!
volunteer crew 2015 The 2015 crew at San Josef Bay resting amid the thousands of fishing floats found that year.
volunteer crew 2016 Part of the 2016 crew posing with some of the more unusual debris found in Sea Otter Cove.
volunteer crew 2017 Who forgot to take the group photo in 2017?? This is the intrepid crew who braved the rain to sort debris at 7-Mile Landfill once the job was done. A total of 54 1.5 cubic meter bags were sent for recycling.
volunteer crew 2018 We were joined by old friends and new in 2018; including amazing amateur photographer Dr. Charles Lam, who organized our group photos!


Why do we do what we do?

Marine debris can be as harmful to ocean ecosystems as destructive fishing practices. Tonnes of plastic waste are circulating on ocean currents and breaking down into smaller and smaller particles, often ending up on or inside seabirds, marine mammals and fish. Lost fishing gear can entangle and kill many marine species. Closer to shore, debris accumulates on beaches including near-shore waters like estuaries that have a high conservation value. Derelict and abandoned vessels are a threat to pollute harbours and other coastal areas.


Tell us what you found

A key part of our work is monitoring locations where debris is sighted and indicating these on our Clear the Coast interactive map. Mapping marine debris will show us the location, amount and types of debris that has been collected.  An online reporting form is available for volunteers to report what they find and remove. Reports will be posted on the map indicating how and where marine waste pollutes our coastal ecosystems and the successful accomplishments of community clean-up efforts.
WARNING: If you find something that you suspect might be hazardous to you or the environment, don’t attempt to dismantle or move it on your own. Make sure to note the hazard in the reporting form.

Derelict vessels

derelict vessel removalOld and derelict vessels are another form of debris and a threat to the marine environment. Their growing presence and disposal is becoming a growing concern for marina operators on B.C.'s coast. These vessels become point sources of pollution, leaking hydrocarbons and other harmful toxins into the ocean. If anchored or abandoned on beaches, they may become hazards to navigation.

Living Oceans has studied how derelict vessels impact marine ecosystems and how lessons learned and best practices from vessel removal efforts in other places can be applied on northern Vancouver Island. This research will provide local harbour managers, marinas and other businesses with a starting point to develop local solutions to the hazards and pollution problems posed by abandoned and derelict vessels.

Ghost fishing gear

ghost fishing netEven after it’s lost, fishing gear continues to fish by trapping or entangling sea life. Local organizations and volunteers want to find and remove lost crab traps from recreational fishing areas in and near estuaries. We are collecting the information reported during these cleanup efforts into the Clear the Coast map that shows how and where the ghost gear interacts with important habitat like kelp beds and eelgrass meadows.