Update on Program to Mitigate Marina Pollution

Many of the big news items these days are about the Environment: electric cars, energy issues, unusual weather, climate change and pollution.  Enough people in the Town spoke up about this that the Town declared a Climate Emergency and established an advisory Committee.  Major projects are under way to decide what Cobourg can do on this issue but meanwhile action was taken on an issue mentioned less often: Pollution.  One pollution issue of particular concern is plastic waste in water bodies such as Oceans and Lake Ontario.  In October 2020, in conjunction with “Pollution Probe”, Cobourg installed a Seabin (and some LittaTraps) – see report in Links below.  And it’s still in operation!  At the next CoW meeting on 19 April, Staff will present a report by Pollution Probe on Cobourg’s performance.

It seems to me to be unusual to get progress reports on these kinds of initiatives – so let’s look at the details.

What was installed

According to the report by Pollution Probe:

The Town of Cobourg joined the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup in October 2020 and currently maintains one Seabin at Cobourg Marina in Cobourg Harbour, and three LittaTraps on King Street, in the Harbour Parking Lot and the Cobourg Marina Parking Lot [See Cobourg News Blog link below].

Cobourg is one of 10 locations in Ontario – See Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup link below.

Data Collection

Data collected from the 2020 season showed that Cobourg was among the top three marinas collecting debris, with an average 162 pieces per day.

Pollution Probe Town of Cobourg
Pollution Probe Town of Cobourg

For 2022, the program plans to expand:

Expanding the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup in 2022

Lessons learned from the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup revealed that a critical component of utilizing plastic capture technologies to remove plastics from the Great Lakes was having dedicated individuals or teams available to regularly monitor devices, and collect and analyze the debris (including the amount and kinds of plastics) captured in the device.

…. We look forward to exploring how we can build on existing efforts in Cobourg using the objectives and strategies outlined herein to further contribute to ending plastic waste in our environment.

…. The Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup will be expanding into the U.S. this year with nine new locations along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

….. Finally, opportunities to expand into Québec are also being pursued, and efforts are underway to grow sister initiative, the Vancouver Plastic Cleanup, in collaboration with Swim Drink Fish.
This program might not address Climate change but is probably less controversial and seems to be widely supported – although more work is required communicating to communities.


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Keith Oliver
15 April 2022 9:46 am

Best solution to any problem is to deal first and foremost with the cause and not just the result. Unfortunately we seem to do the reverse. Cobourgs’ use of SeaBins and LittaTraps puts attention on the problem. But to promote these devices and their meager catch as a solution only promotes complacency, creates a false sense of meaningful action and thereby exacerbate the problem. I’ve walked the West Headland and pebble beach for many years. 5 years ago I’d fill two plastic shopping bags with mostly plastic junk every trip.These days it’s about half a bag. There are hundreds of small coloured plastic pieces too small to pickup. I consider myself less than perfect and so I extend that consideration to others. But there are limits. In such an incredibly interesting, beautiful and dynamic natural environment as the pebble beach area I have a hard time understanding why others throw stuff away. That includes coffee cups and lids, plastic bags, water bottles, food wrappers, cigarette butts with hard tips and soft filters, cigarette lighters, soft drink and beer cans, styrofoam containers, etc, not to mention paper. The practice continues in the waterfront parking lots and on town streets. One of my favourite is when dog walkers pick up poop in a plastic bag, secure it with a knot and then throw the whole thing away. In the privacy of our homes who knows what we pour down our drains and into the lake. That includes the microparticles when we wash our synthetic clothes. There isn’t a waterbird in the world that doesn’t have plastic in its’ stomach. What’s needed is an ongoing campaign to stop pollution at its’ source, perhaps featuring a catchy slogan like “It’s not cute to pollute!”. (Sorry but that’s the best I can do this early… Read more »

Last edited 9 months ago by Keith Oliver
Reply to  Keith Oliver
15 April 2022 10:52 am


From link above:

Researchers say they have found microplastics — tiny pieces of plastic debris that come as a result of the disposal of industrial waste — deep in the lungs of living humans for the first time.
The research, done at Hull York Medical School in England and published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, is the first robust study to identify the plastics in the lungs of living people. The plastics have previously been found in human bloodexcrement and in the depths of the ocean.

Reply to  Keith Oliver
15 April 2022 7:15 pm

“stop pollution at its’ source”

What are you defining as the “source”? Me doing my laundry?

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Frenchy
15 April 2022 9:03 pm


The last thing I want to do is discourage you from doing your laundry. What we all should try to do is buy clothes with as high a cotton content as possible.

Reply to  Keith Oliver
16 April 2022 5:12 pm

I wasn’t trying to be glib with my question Keith.
What do you define as the source of all these microplastics? Is it synthetic textiles?

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Frenchy
16 April 2022 7:14 pm


I wasn’t being glib either. 35% of microplastic ocean pollution comes from synthetic textile fibers. Google “microplastic pollution synthetic textiles” for a range of articles and studies.

Reply to  Keith Oliver
18 April 2022 8:18 am

Wouldn’t the source of the micro plastics debris include irresponsible people disposing of them in the waters?

14 April 2022 4:25 pm

Many other lakefront communities also have declared a ‘Climate Emergency’. Kingston, for example, cut capital projects like the planned new library construction as a meaningful first step so they didn’t have to pass on any associated climate costs to taxpayers.

What costs did Cobourg’s Council cut?

Reply to  Dunkirk
14 April 2022 5:34 pm

Probably had nothing to do with climate control – taxfighters just wanted to reduce the Capital Budget!

Old Sailor
14 April 2022 1:21 pm

Cobourg installed a Seabin (and some LittaTraps)” What plastic are we finding in the Seabin and Litta Traps? Do we know the source and how is it finding its way into Cobourg’s harbour?  I don’t think we need a Ouija Board to answer these questions. Even though plastic recycling barrels at the marina are jammed full in the summertime, I doubt Cobourgers are the source of the plastic problem in our harbour.