Parks Canada staffer Pete Clarkson and Surfrider beach clean coordinator Sarah Greenwood check out a broken up shipping container that crashed on the George Fraser Islands. (Photo - Alan Hall)

Surfrider Pacific Rim ready for more Hanjin clean ups

“It’s an exciting movement for everyone.”

Surfrider Pacific Rim is singing the praises of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and champing at the bit to clear more debris from local shores.

The Park Reserve recently received $72,000 from Korean shipping company Hanjin shipping after roughly 35 styrofoam insulated shipping containers spilled off one of the company’s vessels and crashed onto the Coast in November.

The West Coast’s local Surfrider chapter immediately organized cleanups of the shipping debris and, according to Surfrider Pacific Rim chair Michelle Hall, volunteers cleared roughly 950 kilograms of debris off local beaches in November.

To compensate their efforts, the Park Reserve announced Surfrider would receive about $15,000 worth of the Hanjin cleanup funding.

“It’s an exciting movement for everyone,” Hall told the Westerly News.

“Surfrider are very impressed with how our local Parks team have set the standard for successfully receiving compensation when it comes to ocean pollution…They went after Hanjin, got the cash, had to deal with internal politics, and fought it to ensure that the cash would be spent to clean up the remaining pieces even though they are outside of the Park.”

She said Surfrider enjoys working with, and learning from, the Park Reserve’s staff.

“They are so experienced in remote areas, especially when it comes to safety, wildlife and knowledge for the environment,” she said. “We are following their lead on the Hanjin cleanup plan.

“The plan will involve cutting up the huge pieces of containers, some 20 feet long, and get them ready to be long lined out of there by helicopter to a barge.”

Hall said removing styrofoam and other debris is vital to the health of local ecosystems.

“Styrofoam is one of the five top trash trends here on the Pacific Rim and is the most toxic and hardest to remove when it breaks down,” she said. “Getting debris off the beach and out of the ocean is so important for the health of the marine ecosystems, animals of the ocean and food security.”

Volunteers opportunities to help Surfrider’s efforts will abound over the summer with roughly 17 sites being targeted for cleanups, according to Hall.

“Cleanups are tangible and feel good to be involved in protecting what we love, but we find that most volunteers who join a cleanup always have so much more to give, wisdom, humour, fresh ideas, and become part of the Surfrider community,” she said.

“We are growing. I look around this community and see so many participants in some way, shape or form that are making change, inspiring change, and sharing that education with others.”

Anyone interested can attend Surfrider’s public meets, held on the first Wednesday of every month at the Tofino Brewery Company, or email

“There is a requirement list,” Hall said. “You should be strong, fit and responsible and, of course, have tons of stoke.”

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