SOUTHWESTERN NS – Fishermen are being urged to do their part in keeping the North Atlantic free of debris by bringing all their waste ashore this lobster season, including bait boxes, which otherwise can end up being deadly to marine animals and the ocean floor.
While many fishermen think bait boxes are harmless, that is not the case, said Kirk Symonds, who along with fellow waste diversion co-ordinator Sharon LeBlanc “talked trash” with fishermen at a lobster forum held in Yarmouth this fall.
“Don’t throw anything overboard,” said Symonds, but, in particular, don’t throw bait boxes into the ocean.
“Most bait boxes have a plastic in them. That plastic does not biodegrade,” Symonds said. “The best-case scenario is it turns into smaller bits that makes it easier for marine animals and fish to eat it. The worst-case scenario is it covers the bottom floor. Even when people throw cardboard that doesn’t have plastic in it, it creates dead zones by covering the ocean floor.”
For every piece of plastic seen along the shore, “there’s 600 pieces out there floating that we don’t see,” added LeBlanc. “It doesn’t just go away.”
Symonds said he has been working on the issue of marine waste for quite a few years. One issue he said should be an easy fix is to make sure waste is deposited in bins at the wharf.
“If it’s not in a bin, it will end up in the ocean,” he said. “Waste storage is a big problem we see at many harbours.”
LeBlanc added the problem is often compounded by household waste being put in wharf bins, which is another easy fix, considering the area has regular household waste collection that basically takes everything. LeBlanc there are some freebees allowed at transfer stations where people can bring in waste for free.
“Your waste is your responsibility,” said LeBlanc. “Bringing your waste ashore is not that complex.”
Both Symonds and LeBlanc are involved in the Ship-to-Shore program, started in 2008 as a grassroots initiative by a group of concerned stakeholders who formed a Marine Waste Management Committee that continues to guide the program. Different organizations and Small Craft Harbours are among the stakeholders, said Symonds.
“We’re working towards getting you guys to please think about what you’re doing when you throw that piece overboard,” Symonds said. “Please bring it back.”
Since being started, the Ship-to-Shore program has engaged over 160 fishing harbours on waste management issues, directly engaged over 3,000 fishers and received more than 500 pledges from fishers to endorse the campaign: Garbage. I Bring It Back.
A Marine Waste Management Stewardship Toolkit has also been developed, more than 125 boat bins and vessel waste assessments have been delivered, fisher waste management surveys conducted, and a short Ship-to-Shore outreach film launched. The Ship-to-Shore program received the 2012 Mobius Award of Environmental Excellence for Waste Reduction Education Program of the Year.
5 things to know about Ship-to-Shore
1. Has engaged over 160 fishing harbours on waste management issues and directly engaged over 3,000 fishers.
2. 94% of participating harbours have adopted at least one requirement of waste management.
3. Has received more than 500 pledges from fishers to endorse the campaign: Garbage. I Bring It Back.
4. Has delivered more than 125 boat bins and vessel waste assessments
5. Received the 2012 Mobius Award of Environmental Excellence for Waste Reduction Education Program of the Year