Esquimalt Harbour occupants organize shoreline clean-up

Esquimalt Harbour

Participants of the 2022 harbour clean-up pose with the 200 kilograms of waste they removed from Esquimalt Harbour. Participants included POESB, EGD Environmental Services, EGD Operations, and Victoria Shipyards – Seaspan.

Lorraine Crinkley, 
Branch Environment Officer, 
Port Operations and Emergency Services Branch

CFB Esquimalt’s Port Operations and Emergency Services Branch (POESB) removed approximately 200 kilograms of waste during our annual harbour and beach clean-up in Esquimalt Harbour on July 21.

POESB was joined by participants from the Esquimalt Graving Dock (EGD) and Victoria Shipyards – Seaspan (VSL), who collected debris from the water, shorelines, and between compression fenders.

During this year’s clean-up, significantly fewer face masks and earbuds were collected than have been seen in recent years, but this year was a record-breaking year for the amount of collected rope. The most predominant types of waste removed were rope, treated wood and plastics. Other removed waste types included used absorbent pads, socks, and styrofoam. Much of these waste materials drift into Esquimalt Harbour with currents/tides or may end up in stormwater systems that drain roads and parking areas around the harbour.

Rope is a concern not only for vessels but it also harms the marine environment. Synthetic rope is made from plastic-based materials which release microplastic fragments – plastic debris smaller than five millimetres – into the marine environment. Ingestion of microplastics can have a toxic effect on marine life, impacting their reproductive health, inhibiting growth and development, and may even cause genetic damage.

Abandoned rope and nets in the marine environment can also threaten marine mammals through entanglement. Entanglements can pose a risk depending on their severity, duration, and the impacted species. For air-breathing species, entanglements that inhibit access to the surface may result in drowning.

Entanglements that an animal cannot escape from but do not immediately result in death are known as chronic entanglements. These entanglements almost always become more severe with time and lead to abrasions, secondary infections from lacerations, starvation, emaciation, and eventually death.

What can you do to help?

Report an entanglement immediately through your chain of command or the 24-hour B.C. Marine Mammal Response Network hotline at 1-800-465-4336.

Lastly, you can help clean up abandoned debris in our local waters and beaches. If you are interested in participating in one of POESB’s ocean or beach clean-ups, or if you would like help organizing one within your unit, please reach out to the POESB Environment Officer, Lorraine Crinkley, at

Esquimalt Harbour

(Left to right) Will Sheffield, Esquimalt Graving Dock (EDG) Operations, and Chris Kopar, EGD Environmental Services, search for waste in Esquimalt harbour.


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