Pete Clarkson
Tofino Float'em Garden

Photo Credit: Christopher Pouget

Photo Credit: Christopher Pouget

The ecological relationship linking the ocean, salmon, streams, and forests, is a compelling lesson about ecosystem connectivity. As salmon move from stream to sea and eventually back again, they replenish the streams, riparian forests and an astonishing array of fish, birds, invertebrates, amphibians and mammals

Marine debris can have a strangely similar cycle. It’s often washed into streams that carry it down to the ocean. Eventually it either sinks or is transported by the currents until it ends up back on land. Along the way, the debris is tragically ingested by a host of fish, birds, invertebrates and mammals.

Tofino Float'em Garden is constructed using some of the most commonly found debris. Based on coastal cleanup data, fishing, aquaculture and shipping are responsible for 30% of all ocean plastic. Recent studies at sea suggest this may be even higher. Lost or discarded ‘ghostnets’ alone account for 46% of the total mass of debris within the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

As fishing, shipping and aquaculture intensify, it is crucial to better mitigate this significant source of highly persistent ocean plastic.

Photo Credit: Christopher Pouget

Photo Credit: Christopher Pouget

The Float'em poles are constructed from fishing floats and buoys.  Fish floats and buoys comprise a large percentage of the marine debris found around the world.  It is a sad irony that fishing and aquaculture, industries that depend on healthy oceans, are responsible for so much plastic pollution.

The Float’em Poles are an allegory that we are "fishing down the food web", systematically targeting species at ever-decreasing trophic levels. Each float represents a different species along the spectrum, from the largest apex predator to the tiniest primary producer. Together they symbolize the unsustainable demands we are placing on the totem of marine life.

Artist Bio

Photo Credit: Sam Clarkson

Photo Credit: Sam Clarkson

Pete is a self-taught artist widely recognized for his marine debris sculptures, installations and assemblages, which he’s been creating since 2000. He’s been featured in 2 documentaries – ‘Lost and Found’, which follows the return of lost items from the 2011 Tohuku Tsunami, and ‘Debris’, a National Film Board documentary about the Tsunami Memorial he created using beachcombed material from the Japanese disaster. His art is on permanent display at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Vancouver Aquarium, Ucluelet Aquarium, and Tofino Botanical Gardens, and has been featured at the Globe Conference 2016, International Summit of Marine Debris 2016 (Japan), and the Maritime Museum of BC (2014). He’s a long time national park warden and proud ambassador for Ocean Wise and Surfrider Pacific Rim.

Tofino, B.C.

www.peteclarkson.com