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Local volunteers praised for fight against marine debris

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Eurobodalla has ranked in the top five contributors to the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database, logging tens of thousands of items that were found on our coastline since 2014.

The database enables volunteers and organisations who do beach clean-ups to log their finds and in the process help create a comprehensive overview of the amounts and types of marine debris impacting Australia’s beaches.

Since 2014, Eurobodalla has made 1267 entries to the database, which has just racked up its 10 millionth item.

In Eurobodalla broken hard plastic remnants were the most common item found with 8,080 or 20 per cent. It was followed by 2.9km of fishing line, 2883 pieces of plastic food packaging, 2867 plastic film remnants (such as plastic bags) and 2479 bits of foam insulation and packaging. Also making the top-10 were broken glass and ceramics, plastic lids, tops and bottle parts, cigarette butts, aluminium cans and glass alcohol bottles.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation Managing Director Heidi Taylor praised members of the Eurobodalla Marine Debris Working Group as well as local school students and other volunteers who contributed to the research.

“This Australian-first study into the origin of rubbish in our oceans and waterways would not have been possible without the volunteers and partners from the Eurobodalla,” she said.

“In just 14 years the Australian Marine Debris Initiative has grown from a group of 30 volunteers in the south-west of Western Australia, to more than 100,000 volunteers and partners nationwide.

“The removal and prevention of marine debris remains one of the major environmental issues worldwide, and together we are making significant headway.”

Council’s Environment Education Officer Bernadette Davis said that to stop rubbish at the source you first need to understand where it was coming from.

“From wildlife impacts such as ingestion, entanglement and loss of habitat to potential human health impacts, such as ingesting plastic-contaminated fish, knowing where the rubbish in our oceans is coming from can help solve these problems,” she said.

“By identifying the type of rubbish we have also been able to support new initiatives like the NSW Container Deposit Scheme, as well as local projects like banning balloon releases in Eurobodalla.”

However with so much plastic polluting the earth, Ms Davis said there was still a lot of work to do.

“That’s why we’re putting the call out to the community to sign up to the Marine Debris Working Group. It's easy to participate, and you can add the marine debris you collect onto the database,” she said.

For more information check out our Marine Debris Working Group page.