A morning stroll along the Salmon River Beach to walk her dogs turned into a rescue mission for Angelina Shankle last Saturday.
The receding tide had left a young seal high on the beach, tangled in netting.
Anxious to free the dehydrated and frightened mammal she called local resident Roy Klienwachter to help. Klienwachter called a local storeowner, Dave LeBlanc and his son, Yvon, to assist with the task.
Too weak to bark or resist, the seal still had enough strength to show its teeth.
The men managed to pull the netting from the seal enough to allow it to squirm free.
Slowly, without looking back, the seal made its way back to the surf and disappeared into the next wave. A moment later it was sighted just off shore at the surface, filling its lungs with fresh air.
Fishing industry garbage not only looks unsightly, it can kill or cause suffering to a wide range of wildlife.
The Clean Foundation (formerly Clean Nova Scotia) has been working to address the issue for many years.
Its Ship to Shore program has been active in the Yarmouth area since the program's inception in 2008.
During that time, the program has provided education on waste management practices to over 2,000 fishers and 90 harbours across Nova Scotia.
This year it is aiming to engage a total of 20 harbours and 500 fishers through the program by the end of March (2015).
The organization created a marine waste stewardship toolkit (available for free on its website.) describing how to start up and manage similar programs to encourage other organizations to improve waste education among fishing communities.
As part of its work with commercial fishers, the organization learned that one barrier to shipboard waste management was identifying space to sort and store waste onboard. As a result, it worked with local fishers to design boat bins that fit conveniently on board fishing vessels. The foundation gave 25 boat bins out to fishers in 2013, and will be giving another 25 out in 2014.
Seventy per cent of those who received bins said less garbage was tossed or lost overboard.
Ninety-two per cent of those who received bins said they had increased the amount of recycling on board.
Clean Foundation executive director, Chris Morrissey says the organization’s Ship to Shore program has made substantial strides in reducing the amount of marine waste lost or thrown overboard in Nova Scotia's waters.
“However, this recent seal entanglement is a clear reminder that the issue is complex and still requires a substantial amount of work,” he said.
“We look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts with Nova Scotia's harbours and fishing community to reduce our collective impact on the marine environment."