more details of the meeting with MLA Sheila Malcolmson

Here are a few more details of the meeting that Peter Johnston and I had with MLA Sheila Malcolmson, currently the Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Environment George Heyman.  One of her key files is marine debris, and it is an issue which she truly wants to take action on. 

We wanted to give her information on styrofoam marine debris in particular, its made-in-BC sources from docks, and the impact that it is having when the blocks come loose and grind up into microplastic beads.  It is clear to me that on Lasqueti we have some of this coast's foremost experts on styrofoam debris.   Sheila Malcolmson is very aware that marine styrofoam is a problem, but in many respects our information on this problem better than what the government currently has.

So we are aiming to get her the best information possible, so that any regulations developed can be the most effective possible and actually will reduce this plague.

She was struck by the photos which we brought of the quantity of styro debris on the beaches of Lasqueti and Texada, as well as photos from a local dock replacement where the styro is clearly being eaten by marine life.  I would not be surprised if some Lasqueti photos end up in the government's report on the issue, as she commented that the photos which we gave her are better than any photos that the government had.  If you have great photos, please send them to Peter Dietsch or me.

Sheila Malcolmson let us know that the professional foot-draggers who don't want "more regulation" are blaming the marine styrofoam and debris problem on the 2011 Japanese tsunami.  Therefore, we need plenty of information to demonstrate that styrofoam blocks were already in common use and a huge debris problem at least a decade before that.  If you have information around timing that would help reject that claim, please let us know. 

Sheila let us know that in the new year, the BC government will release a general report which will identify which areas of "Plastics" the people of BC want to see addressed.  Marine styrofoam debris will be one of those issues identified.

So yes, based on the meeting, we have an encouraging opportunity for some degree of provincial government action on marine styrofoam...for the first time ever in BC.  The question will be: how aggressive will the government end up being with any new regulations that get developed.  You can be sure that they will get push-back from the manufacturers, builders, and owners of foam-filled infrastructure, who will likely complain that addressing the problem at source is "far too expensive". 

In order for BC to get aggressive, meaningful regulation to address marine styrofoam debris, the BC government will need to hear very loudly from many BC voters.  Please prepare for this by thinking of all your coastal friends and contacts who can be part of an effort to flood the BC government with emails of support for meaningful action. We will keep track of developments and let you know when that flood of emails should be released upon government decision-makers.  Stay tuned.

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