The Pacific Rim Whale Festival's SeaChange Panel speaker-list included: Michelle Hall

The Pacific Rim Whale Festival's SeaChange Panel speaker-list included: Michelle Hall

WHALE FEST: SeaChange panel talks Microplastics

“That comes from packaging, food wrapping, containers, beverages etc. It’s everywhere.”

  • Mar. 17, 2017 2:00 p.m.

NORA O’MALLEY

nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

 

Whale Festival goers gathered in the George Fraser room at the UCC on Sunday to listen to a panel of ocean experts talk about microplastics and the effects they have the marine environment.

By definition, microplastics are particles that are smaller than five millimetres.  Guest speakers on the panel included Michelle Hall, chair of the Surfrider Pacific Rim Foundation, Dr. Peter Ross, director of the ocean pollution research at the Vancouver Aquarium, Dr. Sarah Dudas, lead microplastics researcher at Vancouver Island University, and our local NDP MP, Gord Johns. The discussion was moderated by Kylee Pawluk from the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre.

“Microplastics come from everywhere. It’s estimated the average Canadian consumes or uses or disposes of three or four times his or her own body weight every year in plastic,” said Ross.

“That comes from packaging, food wrapping, containers, beverages etc. It’s everywhere.”

Dudas added that one of the main sources of microplastics is laundry.

“One of the biggest sources that we know of is sewage affluent. Every time we wash a polyester textile or synthetic textile, we’re generating fibres. Every time we wash our face with something with microbeads in it, plastic will get in there,” said Dudas.

Hall said the top pollutant on the Pacific Rim is plastic, followed by styrofoam, fishing equipment, and miscellaneous materials like cigarette butts.

“What we’re trying to do is definitely have fun cleaning up the beaches, but get to the root cause. Why is this ending up on our beaches in the first place?” said Hall.

Johns expressed his concerns.  

“Surfrider and the work they’re doing around marine debris has been highlighted certainly with the Hanjin [shipping container] spill. It highlights the impact that shipping has on our coast. We look at growth with Asia. We’re growing at about six per cent trade with North America with Asia and British Columbia is really the front line of that,” Johns said.

“We’re seeing tremendous amount of debris starting to accumulate on our coastline. We’ve seen a change over the last decade. In terms of what exists, there has actually only been six pieces of legislation ever introduced in parliament around the eradication of plastics and marine debris. Six. That’s it. That’s pretty weak. One of them was passed last year. So there is some success. Megan Leslie and her bill around consumer products with microbeads.”

“I will be bringing forward legislation, I can tell you that. And I’m very excited about that. I’m going to need everyone’s help,” said Johns.

Ross brought up the fact that the government of India recently banned all single use plastic beverage and food packaging.

“Germany. I think it was 1992. They required that anything being sold in store be 100 per cent recyclable including packaging. They’ve created an internal economy within Germany that is almost an entirely closed economic loop,” Ross went on to note.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tourists are being asked to postpone their non-essential trips to Tofino as COVID-19 cases rise across Vancouver Island, but at least one accommodation provider is offering conflicting messaging. (Westerly file photo)
Victoria woman says Tofino Airbnb host encouraged travel despite provincial restrictions

“The only way I would get a refund is if she would be able to rebook the suite for that weekend.”

A sign outside Ucluelet’s Blue Room on Monday morning advises patrons that the restaurant has gone back to take-out only. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Some Ucluelet restaurants heading back to take-out only as COVID-19 concerns rise

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel urges residents to be respectul of business owners’ decisions.

A sign at the entrance to Ty-Histanis asks visitors to stay out of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation announces lockdown after member tests positive for COVID-19

Essential travel only and restricted to Tofino and Ucluelet.

Tofino Sea Kayaking staff Sable Trafton holds a gift card they are contributing ‘12 Days of Jingle’ draw. One lucky local will has the chance to win $500 worth of gift cards to local merchants. (TLCC photo)
Tofino’s 12 Days of Jingle kicks off holiday season

“We wanted to do it early so people could make purchases and send them wherever they need to go.”

FILE – British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wears a face mask as she views the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Masks now mandatory in all public indoor and retail spaces in B.C.

Many retailers and businesses had voiced their frustration with a lack of mask mandate before

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Most Read