Tackling marine debris in the aftermath of cyclone Marcia

Published: 15/04/2015

Volunteers from Tangaroa Blue will hit the coast around Yeppoon over the next four days to clean-up marine debris in the area following cyclone Marcia.

The severe tropical cyclone crossed the coast at Shoalwater Bay, just north of Yeppoon, in February. Two months on litter, plastics and other refuse has made its way from the land to the coastal area.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman Russell Reichelt said this local clean-up was part of a broader initiative to minimise the source and occurrence of marine debris in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

“On-ground action to clean-up marine debris is a focus for us right now and we’re delighted to work with Tangaroa Blue to clean-up areas affected by the cyclone,” he said.

“Marine debris can harm marine life, pose a navigation hazard and smother coral — it is important we minimise the amount of marine debris entering our ocean.

“Following cyclones, debris enters waterways and eventually makes it out to sea and into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

“Intensified oceanic activity caused by cyclonic activity can also wash large amounts of debris onshore.

“This is a great opportunity to prevent a substantial source of debris from impacting threatened and migratory species as well as other important Great Barrier Reef ecosystems and species.”

Heidi Taylor from Tangaroa Blue said an aerial survey was used to identify marine debris hotspots and target clean-up efforts.

“We’ll focus on highly impacted areas identified through this aerial survey, plus any important wildlife breeding areas and habitat,” she said.

“In addition to cleaning up the area, we’ll collect data on what we remove and try to recycle as much as possible to avoid it going into landfill.”

Marine ecosystems worldwide are affected by human-made refuse, much of which is plastic.

According to the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014, plastic bags, discarded fishing gear, plastic and glass bottles, rubber thongs, aerosols and drink cans are commonly found in the Reef Region.

Between 2008 and March 2014, about 683,000 individual items of marine debris, weighing over 42 tonnes, were collected from the Region’s beaches by volunteers in the Australian Marine Debris Initiative.

This project forms part of the broader Great Barrier Reef Marine Debris Clean-Up Project, run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority with funding from the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.

Community event:

Community members can join the clean-up on Saturday 18 April 2015 from 8am–12 noon — meet at Yeppoon Main Beach.

Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846