The Regional District of Nanaimo wants the federal government to develop a national strategy to mitigate and manage marine litter.
It has asked the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to urge the federal government to do so. Their call for help was heeded as the FCM recently informed the RDN board that it is asking its permission to submit an expanded version of the RDN’s adopted resolution on marine litter for consideration by the full membership at the 2018 FCM annual conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
RDN chair Bill Veenhof said the RDN is proud to be at the forefront of this issue.
“Suddenly the Regional District of Nanaimo is ahead of everybody in the country,” Veenhof told the board at its committee of the whole meeting on May 8. “Our motion about ocean debris, ocean plastics got to the FCM. They like it so much they want it to go national.”
The RDN board voted to approve the FCM’s request.
“We feel that this resolution is particularly timely, given recent commitments by the federal government to use Canada’s G7 presidency to promote ocean protection, particularly around plastics and pollution, and warrants additional consideration on the national stage,” FCM policy co-ordinator Justin Farrell wrote in his letter to the RDN.
The United National Environmental Program estimates that eight million tonnes of plastic produced globally every year ends up in the oceans, food chains, and ecosystems. The material is damaging people’s health in the process, according to UNEP.
With more than 202,080 kilometres of coastline, Canada has one of the longest interfaces with oceans and bodies of water of any country on the planet.
A well-designed law developed in consultation with all orders of government, the RDN resolution stated, can help stop or reduce ocean plastics pollution. It also seeks support for coastal clean-up operations in communities affected by marine litter and also an educational program and awareness campaing aimed at improving public understanding of the local and global environmental costs of marine litter, especially plastics.