February 5, 2007

Organizers tally trash removal from 2006 Canadian Shoreline Cleanup

A canoe made entirely of duct tape, a stolen car, eight toilet seats and 14 barbecues were just some of the items found during last year's TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Having tallied the findings from 966 cleanup sites across the country, the Vancouver Aquarium, originator of the annual cleanup, reported a total 84,708 kilograms (kg) of litter removed from Canadian shorelines. Across the country, 40,781 registered participants scoured 2,080 km of shoreline, staging cleanups of varying sizes in every province and territory, including all major Canadian cities as well as smaller cities, towns and villages.

The biggest cleanup took place at Willows Beach in Victoria, BC, with 670 participants removing 106.5 kg of garbage from 2 km of shoreline. The next largest cleanups took place in Richmond Hill, Ontario, where 450 participants removed 386 kg of debris from 3.2 km of shoreline, and Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, where 430 participants hauled away 433 kg of rubbish from 3.2 km of shoreline.

For each of the 12 years the cleanup has been held, the number one item found has been cigarette butts and 2006 was no exception. Cigarette butts or filters are particularly harmful because of the toxins they release as they break down over a five-year period. Last fall, participants removed 214,229 cigarette butts from Canada's shorelines. Food wrappers, glass and plastic bottles, eating utensils, straws and building materials round out the list of most common items found every year.

The largest single item recovered was a stolen car retrieved by the RCMP dive team in Surrey's Nicomekl River. The Nicomekl is an important salmon stream for BC's struggling salmon stocks and removing the car ended the continuous leaching of toxins from the submerged vehicle.

Not to be outdone, the Toronto Police Marine Unit divers removed a rickshaw, a reel-to-reel tape player and a street lamp from the Toronto Harbour. In Aklavik, Ontario, cleanup crews found a six-foot boat made entirely of duct tape.

Launched 12 years ago by the Vancouver Aquarium, this conservation initiative first started in British Columbia then spread into Alberta. With the support of title sponsor, TD Canada Trust, the Vancouver Aquarium then expanded the program nationally. The TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup now allows citizens from all walks of life to help create a cleaner Canada.

Registered participants receive "cleanup packages" from the Vancouver Aquarium that includes all the supplies they need as well as a data card to be filled out and returned to the Aquarium for tallying. National totals are then sent to the International Coastal Cleanup, where Canada is now second only the U.S. as holding the largest cleanup, among more than 90 participating countries.

Registration for the 2007 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is now open. More information on participating is available on-line at www.vanaqua.org/cleanup or by calling toll free 1-877-427-2422.

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