Alistair MacGregor column: Keeping plastic pollution out of our waters

We have lacked a national policy to prevent plastics from entering our country’s waters

By Alistair MacGregor

Canada has one of the longest coastlines in the world. However, unlike many other developed nations, we have lacked a national policy to prevent plastics from entering our country’s waters, and we have no mechanisms in place to clean up the pollution that already exists.

Single-use plastics have become a part of everyday life, and 95 per cent of single-use plastics, such as coffee lids, plastic bags, and plastic drinking straws, are used once and discarded. For years individuals have ignored the flow of plastics into our oceans and waterways. Over time we have come to understand how damaging this is to the health and well-being of our wildlife, sensitive ecosystems, and communities. We have been warned that globally, if this practice goes unchanged, it is projected that by 2050 plastics in our oceans will outweigh fish.

I am proud to announce that on Dec. 5, 2018 my NDP colleague MP Gord Johns’ (Courtenay-Alberni) Private Member’s Motion to combat marine plastics pollution was passed unanimously in the House of Commons. All parties agreed we need to work together to create a national framework for the reduction and eventual elimination of plastic pollution in our aquatic environments.

MP Johns was inspired to act after the Hanjin Marine Debris Spill in November of 2016, when 35 shipping containers broke apart and washed up onto the beaches of the west coast of Vancouver Island. It was volunteers who were left to clean up the mess because of the legislative and regulatory void related to marine plastic pollution in Canada.

This incident drew attention to a problem that is much bigger than this one accident. In Canada, in 2014, it was estimated that only 11 per cent of plastic was recycled and that 8,000 kilograms of our own plastic waste ends up as marine litter every year. Globally, each year more than 20 million tons of debris enters the world’s oceans.

This motion promises to create a permanent, dedicated, and annual funding for community led clean-up projects. It will also reduce consumer and industrial use of single-use plastics. It will create a plan to clean-up derelict fishing gear, as well as promote education and outreach campaigns on the root causes and negative environmental effects of plastic pollution.

The motion draws from recommendations published by the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre in 2017 and was supported by the Union of BC Municipalities, the Federation of BC Municipalities, and West Coast Environmental Law Association, among other organizations.

The unanimous passage of this motion is a tremendous victory for our oceans and coastal communities. I am proud Canada will finally be joining the 40 other counties around the world that have already created strategies to curb plastic use and protect our precious environment for future generations.

Alistair MacGregor is the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.

Just Posted

Local Cowichan youth shines in national writing contest

Cowichan Tribe member Danika Smith places fifth in her category in Indigenous Arts & Stories contest

Child hit and killed in driveway in Cobble Hill

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Cobble Hill’s Price sprints to first Dirt Cup championship

Robbie Price’s first win on the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series… Continue reading

Cowichan police warn of cryptocurrency scam

More than $64,000 in losses so far

Campers hailed heroes in rock face rescue at Cowichan Provincial Park

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit in new lease agreement

Ocean Wise CEO Lasse Gustavsson called the updated lease an exciting new chapter for the aquarium

Most Read