Surfrider volunteers Takaya, front left, Isla, Ava, Turin and Riley with Jason, in the back, and Megan soak up sun rays and good vibes at Florencia Bay Beach on July 14. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Florencia beach clean near Tofino draws awesome crowd

Visitors from as far as Hawaii, Philippines, and Venezuela pitch in at Surfrider event.

Surfrider Pacific Rim Foundation and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve hosted an annual beach clean up of North Florencia Bay Beach on July 14.

Over 65 volunteers pitched in to remove marine debris—like fishing rope, small pieces of foam, and micro plastics—from the shoreline.

“It was really cool to see that parents brought their children out to come and clean the beach. It’s like raising the next generation of Surfriders, or natural born Surfriders,” said Jason Sam, the environmental non-profit’s chair and youth coordinator.

Parks Canada staffer Bram Dams said he was happy to be down at the beach and working with Surfrider.

“Cleaning up the beaches is not something we can do on our own without the support of community organizations. It’s great to be working with such a forward thinking organization that has so much traction in the community and has so much buy-in from the community at their events,” he said.

Dams, an Interpretation Office for the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, noticed a reduction in the amount of marine debris collected this year.

“We’re seeing less and less plastic. It’s really great to see the busy beaches in the Park looking a lot cleaner.”

READ: Tofino working on bylaw to restrict single-use plastics (Westerly News, Jul. 5, 2018)

For Tofino resident Viola Vatter, this was her first time participating in an organized beach clean.

“I often pick up tiny little bits when I run on the beach. I was surprised by how much Styrofoam there was on this beach. And, when you get right onto the logs, there was a lot more than just running on the straight sand,” she said.

“I think if everybody helped a little bit the world would be a better place. We wouldn’t have all this garbage everywhere,” Vatter added.

Nigel Bennett, a North Vancouver resident and founder of the TruBeach App, spent the better part of Saturday exploring Florencia Bay with his family and picking up debris.

“I think it’s awesome to see so many volunteers, especially the young people. They spend their time and they volunteer to help. I just love it. When I was young, it was never really like that, you know?” said Bennett, who created TruBeach as a mobile community hub for sharing information about global beach cleanliness and water quality.

“You can go and simply do a rating on the beach, take a photograph and create awareness. The more people that use it the more people know. For Surfrider and groups like that, it’s nice to take a picture and show the world what they are doing. It’s spreading awareness into local governments to bring awareness and education not to throw all this stuff into the ocean,” he said.

On Monday, July 16, Surfrider Pacific Rim sent a crew of about 15 volunteers to clean a remote beach located at the base of Catface Mountain in Ahousaht Traditional Territory.

READ: Ahousaht welcomes massive Surfrider Canada conference to Meares Island (Westerly News, May 23, 2018)

“The local beach cleans are nice, they involve the public, but we get 10 per cent of the [marine debris] we would get on a remote beach clean. It makes a big difference when you go on the remote beaches because they are so polluted,” said Sam.

“That’s what changes people,” he notes. “That’s what changed me.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for Surfrider Pacific Rim is encouraged to follow their Facebook Page and sign-up for their newsletter at pacificrim.surfrider.org to stay up-to-date on future events and beach cleans.

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