Clean Harbours Initiative was founded in July 2018 by Shawn Bath, in Bay Roberts, Newfoundland.

After working for 21 years as a commercial sea urchin diver, Shawn grew increasingly troubled by the amount of trash he saw littering the bottoms of Newfoundland harbors. Tires, plastics, batteries, electronics – you name it, it was on the bottom of our ocean.

In 2018, he decided to do something about it.  Since the founding of the Clean Harbours Initiative, Shawn has devoted his passion and energy to cleaning harbours around the province, with a goal of removing 100,000 tires and 10,000 ghost nets.

To date, Shawn has conducted over 50 clean-ups, removing the equivalent of 1750 car tires, dozens of ghost nets, and an estimated 50,000 lbs of ocean trash.

He also works to educate the public about threats to our ocean environment posed by marine plastics and abandoned and lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG).

Abandoned, lost, and discarded fishing gear includes nets, traps, and line that enter the marine environment either intentionally and unintentionally, and has direct and indirect negative impacts on marine ecosystems. In addition to the financial loss incurred by fishermen, ALDFG threatens aquatic animals through the continued entrapment of target and non-target species, including fish, birds, turtles, and marine mammals. Plastic debris breaks down in the ocean environment and also poses a hazard to fish, seabirds, and marine mammals, as ingestion can be lethal.

Shawn has presented to Harbour Authorities, schools, and conducted other outreach events to bring attention to the issue of ocean trash and its impact on the marine environment and wildlife. His efforts to clean Newfoundland harbour have been featured in several broadcast and print media.

In 2020, Shawn was the recipient of the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Stan Hodgkiss Outdoorsperson of the Year Award.

“I spent a lifetime making money off the ocean or in the ocean, and my favourite place to be is in the water. After all these years of seeing the stuff and seeing nobody doing anything about it, I guess it just got to me. Somebody’s got to do it, and there’s nobody around that got any more motivation or reason to do it than I do. And if I don’t do it… well then nobody’s going to do it.” – Shawn Bath, CHI