People who clean up P.E.I.'s shoreline say they hope they see fewer foam buoys on beaches this year.
The P.E.I. Aquaculture Alliance has removed over 87,000 buoys made of expanded polystyrene foam, commonly known as styrofoam, since a program to replace them with more environmentally friendly options was created last fall.
The federal and provincial governments contributed $150,000 to the initiative, which covered about 50 to 75 per cent of costs for new buoys as well as disposal fees for the old ones. But the Aquaculture Alliance says more still needs to be done.
"I would estimate [87,000] is a fairly small percentage of the overall number," said projects director Peter Harris.
"We have applied for funding for this year again. And it will be great to see something, you know, on a long-term [basis] moving forward so that we can accelerate that process."
The old expanded polystyrene foam buoys are replaced with high-density polyethylene buoys, which are less likely to break into pieces, thereby reducing shoreline waste.
Harris said most harvesters are already looking to replace the equipment anyway, but such a program would certainly encourage them to do so sooner.
"If there's any way we can support the aquaculture industry in making those changes, I think is a good thing," said Jackie Bourgeois, executive director of the Southeast Environmental Association.
"If there's any programs that the government can devise to support the industry to sort of transition away from using those styrofoam buoys and to become more environmentally kind of aware and conscious, that's a good thing."
Student cleanup efforts underway
The Southeast Environmental Association covers watersheds in the Montague, Cardigan, Brudenell, Murray Harbour and Murray River areas.
It is one of the organizations that have partnered with the Aquaculture Alliance in the Cleaning Our Shoreline initiative to dispose of debris on Island beaches. Student crews will join them starting Monday and until Aug. 27.
Island residents can submit a coastal area for cleanup efforts through the Aquaculture Alliance or through the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure by texting 902-200-2106.
"We really rely on people to contact us at our office, or even to touch base with the Aquaculture Alliance to let us know if there's places for us to clean up," Bourgeois said.
Student crews have helped dispose of over 27,000 kilograms of debris from 443 beaches and shorelines since 2020.