Mind Your Plastic #LocalHero Shawn Bath
Written by Jacob Maher
Meet #LocalHero Shawn Bath, founder of the Clean Harbours Initiative!
As a commercial diver for over 25 years, Shawn is known to be SUPER hands on when it comes to helping our environment and getting rid of nasty “ghost nets” that plague our waters. He has even been featured in an award winning documentary “Hell or Clean Water”, a must watch for anyone looking to get involved in stopping the spread of plastic pollution. He is by all means the definition of a local legend looking to make positive impact for everyone.
We asked Shawn a series of questions to learn more about his amazing work, and what future endeavors are planned as his projects grow.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and what motivated you to start getting involved with the environment.
Born and raised in Twillingate, NL. I’ve been diving for over 25 years now and over the course of those years I’ve seen how littered our ocean floors are, and seeing how the litter is so destructive that over 3 years ago I decided to do something about it.
2) How did you first get involved with the Clean Harbours Initiative and why is it so important?
Because of my love for the ocean, and all it stands for, I started CHI in July 2018 to clean up our ocean. The ocean has provided me with a living all my life, through fishing and urchin harvesting. But after seeing all the garbage on our ocean floor and seeing the destruction it has created, I knew that something had to be done.
3) Can you tell us how your time as a commercial diver has impacted your work?
It’s had a huge impact on my work in that I’ve seen the garbage for years on our ocean floor! I’ve seen the decay around the wharfs, over years and I’ve seen what Ghost Gear can do, “Forever Fishing”. I strongly believe that this has impacted the fish count and being a fisherman for years, I know that we have to right our wrongs in order to help preserve our ocean.
4) What actions do you take to help the environment and why are they so important?
I dive whenever possible to retrieve toxic materials and ghost gear out of our ocean to help save the marine ecosystem and marine life so that there is a future! We photograph all the trash we retrieve and share it to the world to bring awareness of the problem.
5) What challenges or obstacles do you face when you take action?
Our biggest obstacle is funding; without it we are not getting out there as often as we should and therefore not removing what needs to be removed! At the beginning, I also struggled because I didn’t have all the equipment I needed and most times I was doing it alone; but now we are getting things we need to do this safely and on a larger scale. I also have a small crew that’s there to help!
6) How do you keep yourself motivated?
Some days are hard because I just don’t have the money to do it, but then a like-minded Samaritan sends me a donation and words of encouragement and then I know that my efforts are making an impact on those watching what we are doing!
7) Who inspires you in terms of activism and making a difference in the environment?
My girlfriend inspires me, she’s always been big on not littering. She’s my encouragement not to give up!
8) What has been your favorite experience so far?
My favourite experience is being featured in the doc, “Hell or Clean Water” and “Restoration Planet”!
9) What future events or initiatives do you have planned?
Cleanups cleanups cleanups!!
10) Do you have any recommendations for people wanting to make a difference in their communities?
Get your hands dirty, if it doesn’t belong on the ground or in our ocean, take it and dispose of it properly!!