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Rugged Coast Research Society
Our Story

The Rugged Coast Research Society is a newly formed (2017) society developed to research and restore remote coastal habitats along the BC coast. Research results are shared with stakeholders that may want to use the results to better understand the BC coast and collaboratively restore it. The Rugged Coast team is comprised of marine industry professionals, marine biologists and entrepreneurs who share a passion for marine ecology and marine recreation. Our team members have been exploring the coast for many years and have the experience required to successfully conduct research and restoration projects in remote coastal areas.
Current Project
RCRS is currently conducting a Marine Plastic Accumulation and Restoration project. The project will assess marine plastic accumulation along BC’s west coast and remove plastic from priority locations. There are three main objectives of the project. 
  1. 0
    Objective #1
    Map marine plastic accumulation locations along BC’s west coast.
  2. 1
    Objective #2
    Prioritize macro plastic removal locations.
  3. 2
    Objective #3
    Remove macro plastic debris from priority locations.
Project Importance
Plastic is a growing waste item that is entering the marine food web and impacting marine ecology. There is a wealth of literature regarding macro plastic ingestion in vertebrates (e.g. Denuncio et al., 2011; Laist, 1997; Lazar and Gracan, 2011;), reporting global impacts including: internal and/or external abrasions and ulcers; and blockages of the digestive tract, which can result in satiation, starvation and physical deterioration. These impacts can lead to reduced reproductive fitness, drowning, diminished predator avoidance, impairment of feeding ability, the potential transfer of damaging toxicants from seawater and ultimately death (Gregory, 2009).

These effects are also anticipated for smaller organisms including invertebrates, which ingest microplastics. Other impacts have been suggested by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive Task Group 10 (Galgani et al., 2010) and include: blockage of enzyme production; diminished feeding stimulus; nutrient dilution; reduced growth rates; lowered steroid hormone levels; delayed ovulation and reproductive failure; and absorption of toxins.

Micro plastic concentration and distribution around Vancouver Island has been collaboratively mapped in 2014 by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Vancouver Aquarium and the University of Victoria BC. This project determined that micro plastics are present in elevated concentrations along northern Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland coast up to Cape Caution which was the northern extent of the study area (Desforges, J.-P.W., 2014).

Unpublished works conducted by Vancouver Island University Masters students are finding micro plastics in Chinook salmon and bivalves along BC’s coast. The major source of micro plastics along BC’s coast is anticipated to be macro plastics. Macro plastic debris breaks down in the near shore environment through wave and tidal forces coupled with UV and microbial decomposition. Macro plastics breakdown is continuous until the point of ingestion by marine organisms.

Understanding accumulation locations and implemented regular removal initiatives is the most feasible method for mitigating assimilation of current plastic into the marine food web.
Project Status
In the summer of 2017, RCRS completed shoreline surveys between Books Peninsula and Calvert Island. The survey results determined five main accumulation locations. In the summer of 2018, RCRS conducting surveys along Hesquait Peninsula and between Nootka Island and South Books Peninsula. For the summer of 2019 RCRS and BC Marine Trails is planning to implement a plastic removal project along the southern shore of Brooks Peninsula. In addition, RCRS will be organizing a community shoreline clean-up around the Nanaimo area on World Ocean's Day (June 8th, 2019). The locations will be annouced in the coming weeks. 
The Rugged Coast Research Society is currently a member and community funded organization. Project success is dependent on financial resources obtained through donations and fundraising. All support is welcome and will aid in marine restoration. 
Our research and clean up results will be posted on this website for public interest and share on the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-up website.
"Protect what you love"
Jacques Cousteau