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Nanaimo-based research group needs bigger boat for coastal cleanups

Rugged Coast Research Society raising cash for landing craft to pull trash from remote shorelines
The current boat used by Rugged Coast Research Society for remote shoreline cleanup operations will be replaced by a landing craft that will allow society members to haul four times as much marine garbage per trip from Vancouver Island’s remote shorelines. (Agathe Bernard photo/Rugged Coast Research Society)

Rugged Coast Research Society hopes to land donations to help the organization build a landing craft for shoreline clean-up operations.

The Nanaimo-based non-profit organization that specializes in clearing ocean-borne garbage from Vancouver Island’s remote shorelines wants to take part in trash removal operations funded by $9.5 million from the B.C. government’s Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative. For Rugged Coast to maximize its trash-removal capabilities, however, it needs a bigger boat.

A vessel is already under construction by Riptide Marine in Coombs, thanks to a donation of $65,000 in 2020 from David Stanley and his family through the Stanley de Vos Fund. The money will cover the costs of fabricating the hull, but the vessel still needs to be outfitted with a wheelhouse, motors, electrical system, rigging and trailer. The craft’s total cost when completed will be about $145,000.

The society is currently raising the $80,000 to finish the landing craft. Every dollar donated will be matched by the Stanley de Vos Foundation, which leaves $40,000 to be raised by Rugged Coast.

READ ALSO: Donation from Nanaimo family helps society clean up Island’s coastline

Ben Armstrong, Rugged Coast Research Society coordinator, said in a video presentation that the society’s current vessel can haul about 1,000 pounds (455 kilograms) of debris from beaches.

“But with this new vessel, we’ll be able to pull more than 5,000 pounds of debris out on each trip,” Armstrong said. “This 32-foot landing craft will more than quadruple our ability to pull marine debris off our shores, which means more bang for the buck and less trash left behind.”

According to a Rugged Coast Research Society press release, the society will partner with First Nations governments within their territories to create employment in coastal communities and also plans to hire tourism industry professionals, such as wilderness guides and vessel operators, who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Clean-up efforts are planned on the Island’s west and east coasts, including as far north as Nanoose Bay.

The landing craft will be used by the society, but also to support partner clean-up operations. It is anticipated to be finished in May, said Renny Talbot, society director, in a phone interview.

“As far as the clean-ups go, they’re funding-dependent, so we’re going to find out in the next week or so from the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative if our funds get approved,” Talbot said.

If funding is approved, the vessel’s first cleanup will be May 21 on Hesquiat Peninsula on the west coast.

The society will acknowledge any businesses, organizations or individuals willing to support shoreline cleanups and ocean restorations. Businesses, organizations or individuals donating more than $5,000 will have their logo displayed on the side of the landing craft. To make a donation and learn more about the Rugged Coast Research Society, visit

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