Don’t let your litter bug our Reef

This Clean Up Australia Day, Australia’s lead management agency for the Great Barrier Reef is encouraging everyone to take action to reduce marine debris — not just this Sunday, but every day of the year.

The call from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority follows today’s release of their marine debris position statement and the start of their social media campaign this month called #marinedebrismarch.

“Clean Up Australia Day is a timely reminder rubbish on land can flow from stormwater drains into our ocean and the Reef,” Marine Park Authority chief scientist Dr David Wachenfeld said.

“Rubbish that finds its way into the marine environment kills marine life, such as turtles, dugongs, dolphins, and seabirds, and impacts almost all of the Reef values — its beauty, rich biodiversity, extensive natural habitats, historic heritage, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural values.

“Cleaning up rubbish from the environment helps prevent it ending up on our Reef but it’s the last line of defence — we all need to consider how much rubbish we create and take action to reduce marine debris at the source.

“The position statement encourages collective action by community, industry and government to help reduce this major threat to the pristine wonder that is our Great Barrier Reef.”

Throughout March, the Marine Park Authority will be promoting #marinedebrismarch on its social media channels to share information on the issue, including tips to reduce rubbish and showcasing those champions helping to rid the Reef of marine debris.

The position statement explains why marine debris is one of the greatest threats to the Reef and calls on urgent regional and international action to reduce plastic and other marine debris entering the Marine Park.

“We’ve outlined a suite of actions communities, industry and governments can take to deal with marine debris through repurposing and reimagining, reducing, reusing, recycling, recovering and disposing of rubbish,” Dr Wachenfeld said.

“There are many easy ways to reduce rubbish — carry a re-usable water bottle and coffee cup, say no to plastic straws and remember your reusable grocery bags.

“Stopping the use of single use plastics also has a climate change benefit as it reduces the energy used to manufacture plastics.”

More than 80 per cent of marine debris found in the Reef is plastic. Cigarette butts, plastic bags and single-use plastic bottles are the three most common types of rubbish found in the Reef’s marine environment.

Plastic pollution can travel vast distances and is extremely harmful to marine species, posing a serious risk of entanglement, ingestion, toxic exposure, disease and death.

Position statements express the Marine Park Authority’s views on an issue where it has a strong interest, but is outside its direct regulatory control.

The Marine Park Authority encourages individuals and organisations to adopt this position and take action to minimise the impacts of marine debris.

For more information on what you can do to reduce marine debris visit www.gbrmpa.gov.au.

Contact: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Media team | (07) 4750 0846 | media@gbrmpa.gov.au | Twitter:@gbrmarinepark