Regional District of Nanaimo asks for federal action on marine litter

Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek, with Ian Thorpe, consulted Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The regional district is concerned about marine litter and wants federal action to address the problem.

At its committee of the whole meeting last Tuesday, the Regional District of Nanaimo board recommended a resolution to be forwarded to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. RDN directors want the FCM to “urge the federal government to develop a national strategy to mitigate and manage marine litter.”

A staff report prepared by Meghan Larson, the RDN’s solid waste planner, notes that the United Nations Environmental Program estimates that every year, eight million tonnes of plastic “finds its way into our oceans, food chains and ecosystems, damaging marine life and human health.”

Before formulating a resolution, RDN staff gathered information on the subject and Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek and Nanaimo director Ian Thorpe consulted Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Randy Alexander, RDN general manager of regional and community utilities, said marine litter is receiving significant media and public attention worldwide. He noted that staff will report back to the board next month on ways the RDN can reduce its use of throw-away plastic.

Westbroek called the FCM resolution well-worded.

“It’s started taking on a life of its own now with international progression toward doing something about this,” he said.

Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre agreed that the resolution is “excellent” and expressed concern about plastic microbeads.

“That’s another problem that’s creeping into the wildlife and into food chains,” he said. “It’s really, really important and I’m really happy about the FCM resolution.”

RDN chair Bill Veenhof, director for Area H (Shaw Hill, Deep Bay, Bowser) said marine litter is a big deal.

“Beyond the environmental consequences, it’s jobs in my area,” he said.

—NEWS staff


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