Gibsons Marina has become the first in B.C. to get a Blue Flag from the group Environmental Defence. It’s also part of a wider trend toward the greening of the boating industry.
To receive a Blue Flag, according to Environmental Defence, beaches and marinas must meet high international standards in water quality, environmental management, environmental education, and safety and services.
The flag will be hoisted at a special ceremony at 10 a.m. on June 4.
The Town of Gibsons holds the water lease sublet by Gibsons Marina, and in a release announcing the Blue Flag certification, Mayor Wayne Rowe offered praise to the marina operators.
“Your efforts to improve our coastal environment, marine safety, accessibility and educational opportunities in and around Gibsons Marina are well aligned with the Town’s own commitment to protecting the community’s natural capital such as the foreshore, creeks, aquifer and forests,” he said.
While Gibsons Marina is the first to earn the right to fly the Environmental Defence Blue Flag, several other marinas on the Coast are promoting their green credentials through a program run by the Georgia Strait Alliance (GSA) – Clean Marine BC.
The GSA certifies facilities under Clean Marine BC once they pass an environmental best practices audit. The group then assigns an “anchor” rating from one to five anchors.
The government wharves in Madeira Park, Gerran’s Bay, Hospital Bay and Secret Cove have all received certification. Sechelt’s Porpoise Bay, and the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club outstations at Garden Bay, Secret Cove and Alexandra Island (off Gambier) are enrolled, and working toward certification.
Michael McLaughlin is the program manager of the Sunshine Coast-based BC Ocean Boating Tourism Association, which has been working with the GSA to promote Clean Marine BC. He said there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that boaters planning a cruise factor in the environment when deciding where to go.
“One of the strongest selling points of a B.C. coastal holiday is that it’s a clean area,” McLaughlin said. “People can’t necessarily see that by looking in the water or gazing across the air, but when they see a standard of high environmental stewardship wherever they go – that there are rules, the rules are followed, and they’re taken seriously – that’s the most concrete indicator of the state of the environment to many people.”
McLaughlin added that it would be “fabulous” if all marinas along the B.C. coast earned an environmental designation.
“We would then be branded as part of the world that’s at the forefront of environmental stewardship … and we, as an organization, will encourage them to do that.”