Great Barrier Reef Clean-up

Great Barrier Reef Clean-up 17-25 October 2015 

During October 2015 more than 1000 volunteers from across Queensland took part in the Great Barrier Reef Clean-up to reduce marine debris in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. More than 55,000 items were collected weighing almost 12 tonne. All up more than 350 bags of rubbish was removed from across the Reef catchment, islands, creeks and beaches. What a fantastic result!

The Great Barrier Reef Clean-up was delivered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority with funding through Reef Trust and in partnership with the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, Tangaroa Blue Foundation, Eco Barge and local Reef Guardian Councils.

Photos from the events

Cape Kimberley Great Barrier Reef Clean-up 2015

What is marine debris?

Marine debris is rubbish or litter that finds its way into the marine environment. Plastic is the most common type of marine debris found on beaches in the Great Barrier Reef. This is consistent with worldwide studies which have found plastics make up 50 to 90 per cent of the number of all debris items recorded.

Both the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014 and strategic assessment outlined issues associated with marine debris. According to the Outlook Report common items of marine debris found within the Region are plastic bags, discarded fishing gear, plastic and glass bottles, rubber thongs, aerosols and drink cans.

Marine debris can harm marine life, pose a navigational hazard and smother coral. Turtles and dugongs can become entangled in marine debris like nets, or ingest marine debris such as small plastic pieces and bags when they mistake them for food. Plastic can also absorb other potentially toxic chemicals.

Why did we hold a clean-up?

The Great Barrier Reef Clean-up events were held to reduce debris entering the Reef lagoon in your region and raise awareness about marine debris issues in your local community.

The data collected from the clean-ups is being analysed and entered into the Australian Marine Debris database to help create a comprehensive overview of the quantity and types of marine debris found along the Australian coastline and start to identify trends over time. It enables hot spots to be identified along the Great Barrier Reef as well as type and origin of the rubbish collected to help create source reduction plans with the local community and government.

When and where were the events?

The Great Barrier Reef Clean-up kicked off in Townsville on 17 October as part of the Celebrate the Reef community day. More clean-ups then occured the following weekend (24-25 October) in other coastal locations stretching from Cape York to Bundaberg. Registration occurred through the relevant delivery partner's websites.

How did people get involved?

Volunteers were encouraged to register online for their local clean-up through the relevant partner organisation's website. Community groups and volunteers also registered their own clean-up locations and received online training and a free clan-up kit with bags, gloves, sharps container and all the information and forms needed to complete the event.

Further information

Call or email:

Great Barrier Reef Clean-up Project
Ph: 07 4500 0700
Email: or