Johns Calls on Feds to Release Funds for Marine Debris Clean-Up

Media release

2 March 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MP Gord Johns Calls on Feds to Release Funds for Marine Debris Clean-Up

Member of Parliament Gord Johns has called on the federal government to release funds to community groups who led the clean-up efforts after shipping container debris washed up on the West Coast of Vancouver Island last November. Parks Canada has received $72,000 to cover the cost of eliminating the wreckage.

Johns said, "The only reason any debris has been eliminated so far is because of community volunteers. I'm calling on the government to transfer the money to community groups, like Surfrider, to reimburse them for their clean-up efforts."

The Hanjin, a Seattle bound cargo ship from South Korea, lost 35 shipping containers during rough weather at sea on November 3, 2016. Within days, debris from the containers began washing up on the shores of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, as well as on public beaches along the coast of Tofino and Ucluelet, in Ahousaht territory on Vancouver Island.

Johns said, "Community groups haven't seen one dime and yet $72,000 is sitting in a Parks Canada bank account."

Parks Canada received the money from a South Korean bankruptcy court to cover the clean-up efforts after Hanjin Shipping declared bankruptcy. The bureaucratic mechanism to allow Parks Canada to release the funds to local volunteers will take months to process.

Johns asked, "Why is it that five months later there is still no process in place to release this designated money back into the community?"

The community response was led by Surfrider and Tribal Parks Guardians, with support from Parks Canada staff. Large items, such as fridges and stoves, were found washed up on public beaches. Potentially-harmful breakage from Styrofoam-insulated shipping containers was discovered along the coast line. Volunteers are out-of-pocket for monies spent on fuel, equipment rentals, food and coffee, and other expenses related to the clean-up.

Johns said, "Our coast line is becoming a junk yard. The government is increasing trade with the Pacific Rim but there is no mechanism to deal with the environmental fallout from marine debris resulting from the increase in shipping traffic on our oceans. We want a guarantee that marine debris cleanup will be part of the Oceans Protection Plan."

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