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Sparing Snapper’s penguins from snaring plastics

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Marine debris is a world-wide problem, with street litter washing into gutters and drains to pollute rivers and oceans. Closer to home, rubbish in the Clyde estuary is posing entanglement risks to the little penguins that live there.

Thinking globally, but acting locally, Eurobodalla Council has installed litter-catching baskets in the stormwater drains of the Batemans Bay CBD. Environmental officer Lily Berry said 10 drain baskets were installed in 2018.

“As part of our little penguin project, we’ve installed another 10 drain baskets to help protect their environment,” she said.

“We’ve traced a lot of the litter we’ve removed from the Snapper and Tollgate Islands – where little penguins live and nest – back to the Bay CBD.  A lot of the rubbish we collect is easily windblown or carried along waterways down into the estuary.”

Ms Berry said the drain baskets were regularly cleaned and monitored.

“The drain baskets not only stop pollution entering the Clyde, but by logging data about the collected litter into the Australian Marine Debris Database we can develop targeted solutions that stop the flow of rubbish at the source,” Ms Berry said.

“The most common items in the drain baskets are cigarette butts, plastic bag remnants and plastic food packaging.

“Clearly the two most effective actions people can take is to avoid single-use plastic bags and wrappers and dispose of items in a bin.”

For more information about the Clyde the Little Penguin project, check out the videos on Council’s YouTube channel.