Where does that plastic come from? Marine debris survey

24th October, 2018

Australians are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of litter on our marine and coastal environments. 

Volunteers joined Perth NRM’s Coastcare Coordinators and Cottesloe Coastcare to participate in the WA Marine Debris Project 2018 at Cottesloe and Challenger Beaches on the 13 and 14 October.  Over 50 participants answered the call by Keep Australia Beautiful and Tangaroa Blue to clean up litter and collect data to help track litter to its source.

Volunteers scoured the dunes at Challenger Beach and collected 61 kgs of debris from the shoreline up into the dunes.  At Cottesloe the howling wind and threat of rain didn’t deter citizen scientists, volunteers, and university and school students from taking action to care for the marine environment.  Discarded bottles, ice cream spoons, pieces of marine rope, straws, tiny fragments of hard plastic and cigarette butts were collected, sorted and counted for entry into the Australian Marine Debris Database.

Started in 2004 the Marine Debris Initiative provides a consistent methodology and allows information to be included into a standardised national database. Tangaroa Blue reports that ‘more than 7 million pieces of data have been inputted into the AMD Database’.  It shows how citizen science and community led environmental programs can contribute to building a comprehensive understanding of the impact of different threats to our environment, in this case different types of marine debris.

At Cottesloe, volunteers found a tracking tag belonging to a lobster pot, which enables the source of the litter to be identified.  Many companies have now signed the Australian Packaging Covenant and are working towards reducing the impact of packaging on the environment. Collaboration between community, government and industry will help to find solutions to stop the flow of rubbish into our oceans.

The Beach Clean Up event was supported by a Coastwest Grant from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage.

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