Small Ship Tour Operators, First Nations and Local Businesses Clean Up the Coast
Wilderness Tourism Association of BC (WTABC) and Small Ship Tour Operators Association (SSTOA) with support from the Commercial Bear Viewing Association (CBVA) join the Province of BC in an ambitious shoreline clean-up of harmful marine debris across BC’s Central and North Coast.
On August 18, 2020 a fleet of tourism ships began an unprecedented, six-week expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest’s outer coast as part of the Marine Debris Removal Initiative (MDRI), a project funded by the provincial Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy.
With the support and collaboration of First Nations in the region, the expedition expected to remove 75 and 100 tons of marine waste, including plastics, from over 1,000 km of coastal beaches along the Great Bear Rainforest. A group of BC small ship tour companies developed this innovative project in response to tourism shutdowns due to COVID-19.
This initiative is being funded as part of the province’s COVID-19 stimulus funding and will provide needed work for 100+ crew and guides on nine ships, from five BC ecotourism companies. It will also employ a tug and barge and helicopter. In addition, a related in-shore clean-up done by members of Coastal First Nations communities will employ another 75 people.
The crews, which include a number of scientists, are also collecting data on the debris they clean up, which they’ll provide to the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy.
Bluewater Adventures is beyond proud to have participated in this inaugural initiative and our Crews who worked so hard to accomplish more than we could have imagined. With good weather, we expect that the ships will retrieve the remaining heli bags before making their way south. We look forward to their safe return and the stories. Great work team!!
- September 23: Globe and Mail – Stepping Up: With season cancelled, ecotourism group tackles marine waste
- September 18: Canadian Geographic – Small-ship tourism saving BC beaches with marine debris clean-up
- September 17: BC Local News – Remote BC wilderness lodge staffed for coastal clean up instead of wilderness tours
- September 15: The Narwhal – ‘Tons and tons of fishing equipment’: B.C. tour operators clean up ocean debris during coronavirus pandemic
- September 15: Adventure Travel news – How British Columbia is saving its beaches and small ship tourism with a marine debris clean up in the Great Bear Rainforest
- September 5: Trail times – Inside the ongoing mission to scrub clean B.C.’s wild beaches
- September 1: Times Colonist – Idled tourism-ship crews clear garbage from coastline
- August 31: The Northern View – Tourism operators pivot from guiding to beach cleaning
- August 31: Victoria Buzz – B.C. employs small ship tour operators with $3.5 million fund to clean up coastline
July 3, 2020
British Columbia Announces Phase 3 of its Restart Plan!What this means is that the BC is finally encouraging mindful travel throughout our beautiful Province. With tourism making up one of BC's largest sector supporting about 1 in 10 jobs, this is great news!! What it means for Bluewater Adventures is that we are now permitted to operate trips - but it isn't that simple.
With the Province transitioning to Phase 3, several of the First Nations villages in critical areas that we explore have not yet made that transition and are still in a state of emergency. They are more vulnerable due to several factors and are ensuring that they keep care of their communities and we respect their wishes 100 percent .
Up to now, Covid-19 has resulted in a total of 36 cancelled Bluewater Adventures expeditions - so far.
Our COVID-19 Safety Plan and Bluewater Best Practices were created with the hope and anticipation of entering Phase 3 and running a handful of trips - this is still our sights. Northern Vancouver Island "checks all the boxes" for travel during this time. We travel with like-minded British Columbians in a small group, most of our days are spent outside in a wilderness setting, the start and finish point can be accessed by car, and our small "bubble" of guests and Crew mingle with very few folks for the duration of the trip. This is a perfect option for a small group of family and friends to explore the remote waterways of the coast aboard our newest vessel - Island Solitude.
With the completion of our Crew COVID-19 Safety Training complete, we are prepared to welcome our fellow British Columbians on a trip of a lifetime during these crazy times. The sea beckons...
June 6, 2020
Transport Canada had made the announcement that all non-essential passenger vessels were banned from operating until June 30th which forced us to cancel our Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary expeditions and some of our spring Haida Gwaii trips too. It was a devastating process, to communicate to our guests that their trips of a lifetime were cancelled. We were learning quickly how to respond to an unprecedented situation without any idea of where it was taking us.
The tourism industry around the globe has been at a literal standstill ever since. Tourism companies across Canada rallied to share the messages to #StayHome and #ExploreBCLater, in efforts to support the directives to stay home by health authorities. In over 45 years of operations, we at Bluewater have only advocated the exact opposite―to get outside, experience the wild coast of British Columbia and Alaska, to get social and share these adventures with like-minded travelers from around the world. However, we adjusted our voice and our message accordingly, and like the rest of you, we stayed home.
Communication technology has been the saving grace for so many of us through these times. Being able to hop on the computer to attend face-to-face meetings at a distance, to keep all of our guests informed on next steps, and in helping us respond to such an unimaginable hurdle. Over the last several weeks, Bluewater has taken a deep dive into our operations to create Best Practices and new health and safety protocols during COVID-19. Through assistance from Governments and our medical consultants, we determined how to best manage travel and mitigate risks to our Crew, guests, and coastal communities with whom we work.
Various First Nations on the north and central coast have announced a state of emergency and have advised that their traditional territories are closed to outside travelers until further notice. We continue to work with these communities to ensure that their health and safety remains of the upmost importance as we determine how to face the challenges of operating out of their communities once again - when it is safe and we are welcomed back.
Now, in June, we are getting closer to sharing the message, “Explore your own backyard” to local travelers. We are looking at ways to explore in a safe and manageable way until we get to the other side of this pandemic. The Crew and all of us at Bluewater Adventures are getting ready to welcome you on a new Bluewater adventure and explore some of the most beautiful terrain in our own backyard. Whether you join us with your family and friends on a private charter, or join a small group of like-minded locals, we look forward to welcoming you.
In time, with the guidance of our health care officials, we hope to see friendly faces from far off places. Until then, we hope that you will keep in touch and visit here often for updates and announcements as we navigate these uncharted waters through to next steps.
All storms eventually pass. Before you know it, we’ll be able to hoist our sails and find our way to smooth sailing in the central and north coast of British Columbia once again. For now, we are inspired to #ExploreBCLocal.