Lake Ontario, ON - David Kearney

My Watermark is Lake Ontario.

I am a Toronto resident and have been my whole life, I am also an avid angler. I have been fishing since I was a small child, fishing with my family in different locations throughout Toronto and southern Ontario. As well as fishing and living on the Humber River while growing up. I could not be called an 'Avid Angler". I was blissfully unaware of the impact our garbage was having on our ecosystem, heck I didn't even know what the ecosystem was back then. It wasn't until I was in an automobile accident back in 2007 that sent me on my path to really becoming a Avid Angler. My accident was severe enough to keep me away from work for almost 5 years, the injuries I sustained stay with me till this day. Fishing and fishing Toronto is what really helped me recover from this life changing accident.

In 2008 I began to use the days I was not seeing doctors or going to some kind of therapy, to explore the local waterways around Toronto, including The Don River, The Humber River, the inner and outer harbours, The Leslie Spit, Ashbridges Bay, Bluffers Park and anywhere in between that I could cast a line. Fishing all these locations in this densely populated city, you really start to notice the garbage along the shorelines. The amount of micro-plastics alone is almost insurmountable. Debris not only left by other anglers, but from all users of the waterways parks and paths. There is boat garbage, biker garbage, jogger garbage, dog walking garbage. Everyone seemingly enjoying the outdoors, doing what they love to do, then just discarding their trash inappropriately. For me it was getting too much, I was trying to get away from the stress and the pain from the accident, enjoy a little fishing around the corner from my house and I am surrounded by plastic and paper and glass. Something had to be done. So, I began to organize a shoreline cleanup. Where do I begin?

I found an initiative on-line called The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, using this platform made it really easy to organize the cleanup and recruit my volunteers. I gathered as many volunteers as I could, most avid anglers concerned about the amount of waste piling up on our shorelines, I choose a location in the outer harbour, where me and my friends like to fish. This area of the outer harbour is where a large amount of the garbage that ends up in Toronto waters migrates to; there is one particular beach in the outer harbour where a lot of this debris washes up on. We spent a beautiful morning cleaning up the outer harbour. The beach, once again was clean (somewhat). The amount of micro-plastics was just too overwhelming and it would take 100 cleanups, one after the other to really get that beach clean.

Going through that experience, seeing how easy it was and what impact it had not only on the surrounding environment but on the people who participated in it was somewhat humbling and exceptionally gratifying. So I decided then and there that this is how I was going to give back to the city, the waterway and the people I love.

I now organize 2 shoreline cleanups a year in Toronto, focusing on locations along our waterways that people like to fish. I do one in the spring and one in the fall, and I do this in partnership with the Toronto Urban Fishing Ambassadors and The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Together we have removed thousands of pounds of trash from Toronto's shoreline. And with the ever growing populations in the GTA, I am sure that there will be thousands more pounds to be removed in future shoreline cleanups, coming to a stream, river or shoreline in Toronto near you. I think I can now be called an ‘Avid Angler’, that’s what an avid angler is, one who cares about the environment we fish in, swim in and wanting drinkable water. It should not be hard.

That’s my watermark, as simple as it is.

Lake Ontario, ON
David Clark
David Kearney

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