On Friday, June 8 at around 10 a.m., volunteer divers from the Port aux Basques Sea Lion Dive Club, in conjunction with the Port aux Basques Harbour Authority, will jump into the water to help clean up the town harbour.
“Right now I’ve got five divers, maybe six lined up,” said Scott Savory, a recreational diver who has been helping organize the cleanup. “That’s also in conjunction with World Oceans Day.”
The section of the harbour slated for cleaning is near the floating dock behind the Bank of Montreal.
“That’s just one small area of a big ocean,” noted Savory, who believes the garbage at the bottom of the harbour is the worst he’s seen in recent years. “Back in the old days it was common practice for people to dump their garbage, but it should not be common practice anymore.”
Savory hopes the cleanup will help raise awareness about littering. The garbage is highly visible to local and especially tourists, even without an underwater camera.
Mandy Ryan Francis is chair of the Port aux Basques Harbour Authority board.
“People have thrown trash into the ocean for many years. Port aux Basques is no exception,” she said. “We want our Oceans Day event to make a real impact, to show and educate people that keeping our harbour clean is better for everyone.
“Our harbour is not just a place where ferries dock and fish harvesters land catch, it's the place where children fish from wharves, locals and visitors love to walk around. Why not improve that area for all users?”
In addition to the dive club and the harbour authority, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has agreed to provide a boat to ferry the trash from the divers to shore, and the town of Channel-Port aux Basques will lend a truck to carry it all to the waste disposal site.
Savory said they’ve also reached out to St. James Regional High School for students who contribute volunteer hours in the community as part of their school curriculum to help load the truck and clean up the harbour shoreline, or at least part of it.
“All of this effort will leave the community with a cleaner harbour bottom and coastline,” he said.
Ryan Francis hopes to see the World Oceans Day cleanup become an annual event. She says the harbour authority board is excited to have forged this partnership with the Sea Lions Dive Club.
“We share the same goals, that is to clean up the harbour and coastline and create awareness about keeping it clean.”
Ryan Francis says cleaning up a harbour is usually a pricey business, which is why so many aren’t done.
“This World Oceans Day event would not be possible (at this scope) without the Sea Lions Dive Club,” she said. “Frankly, it would cost the Harbour Authority several thousands of dollars to hire commercial divers to clean up the section that the Sea Lions plan to do, and we couldn't afford it. Without their volunteer contribution it simply wouldn't happen.”
Savory says he is just a diver looking to help out in any way he can, one bit at a time.
“It’s an ongoing - I guess you would say - volunteer project that we’re working with the Port aux Basques Harbour Authority and we’re hoping to get more done,” he said.
Anyone interested in lending a hand on World Oceans Day is welcome. The Harbour Authority will continue to post updates and information about the cleanup via their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/harbourauthoritypab.