Rugged Coast Research Society volunteers use a small boat and paddle boards to get through heavy surf to remote beaches to collect marine trash, which is placed in sacks and transported away on a larger craft. (Photo: Agathe Bernard, Rugged Coast Research Society)

Rugged Coast Research Society volunteers use a small boat and paddle boards to get through heavy surf to remote beaches to collect marine trash, which is placed in sacks and transported away on a larger craft. (Photo: Agathe Bernard, Rugged Coast Research Society)

Donation from Nanaimo family helps society clean up Island’s coastline

Rugged Coast Research Society needed boat and gear to clear marine trash from remote beaches

A group of volunteers is cleaning up tons of marine debris from the Island’s shores, thanks to donations from a family in Nanaimo.

Rugged Coast Research Society is a non-profit organization of volunteers that maps marine debris in remote locations on B.C.’s coast and then works to clear away the trash.

But the conventional method for gathering trash from remote shores is expensive, notes a press release from the society. Hiring a helicopter costs about $1,000 per hour to lift sacks of collected debris from the beach to a barge for transport, which costs about $1,000 per day.

To get around the prohibitively high costs Rugged Coast volunteers experimented and found a cheaper way. Instead of using a helicopter and barge, volunteers arrive offshore in a boat and team members go by paddleboard or rowboat to remote beaches. The system works, but the society didn’t have a craft large enough to transport the retrieved marine debris.

David Stanley said he became aware of Rugged Coast’s Research Society’s efforts to put its plan into action from a talk given at Nanaimo Yacht Club by two novice sailors who were circumnavigating the Island and spent some time volunteering with the society’s marine debris cleanup efforts.

RELATED: Novice sailors circumnavigate Vancouver Island to battle ocean plastics blight

“They’re doing a job which really needs to be done, to clean the plastics and other wastes off the coast,” Stanley said.

He and his family initially donated $35,000 to help the society buy a boat up to the task in March. In late September he made a second donation of $30,000 so the society could purchase equipment that will allow the crew of volunteers to safely continue their work through the fall and winter months.

“We like to donate to local charities that are actually doing some real work. Not something pie in the sky. We don’t want to support studies or things that you don’t really know if they’re ever going to produce results, but these people are producing results that you can see right away,” Stanley said.

He said the society receives no governement funding and his family is looking toward providing the society more financial help in 2021 after it is determined what it will actually need.

“They actually do it for fun,” Stanley said. “They’re all volunteers and they actually treat it as a holiday. They take their tents and set them up on the beach. They even bring along their families.”

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