Gladstone says no to marine debris

Gladstone residents joined forces with the Gladstone Regional Council and marine debris experts to stop marine debris entering the Great Barrier Reef through local creeks and beaches.

The workshop, run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) as part of the Great Barrier Reef Clean-up at Gladstone today, identified where marine debris washing up on local creeks and beaches is coming from and developed a plan to stop it.

GBRMPA Reef Guardian council project manager Sandra Garvin said plastic bags, discarded fishing gear, plastic and glass bottles, rubber thongs, aerosols and drink cans were commonly found in the Reef Region.

“We regularly see marine debris, particularly plastics, on our beaches and riverbanks. It comes from our everyday activities which means everyone has a role to play in reducing the amount of marine debris entering our environment,” Ms Garvin said.

“The Great Barrier Reef is home to amazing plants, animals and habitats — marine debris can smother coral, entangle or be ingested by wildlife and can also negatively affect tourism.”

Marine debris experts from the Tangaroa Blue Foundation worked with the community to develop their plan to reduce marine debris.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation Heidi Taylor said data used to develop plan was collected from last year’s Great Barrier Reef Clean-up and entered into the Australian Marine Debris database.

“There’s already a great on-ground effort by the community to clean up litter and marine debris in Gladstone,” Ms Taylor said.

“This workshop allows the community to use the data from their clean-ups to create plans that prevent litter from entering the environment in the first place."

In October last year volunteers removed more than 1000 kilograms of marine debris from Lilley’s Beach, Canoe Point, Tannum Sands Main Beach, Workmans Beach and Esplanade Beach, Curtis Island as part of the Great Barrier Reef Clean-up.

Gladstone resident and workshop participant Ron Harding said the community needs to take action against marine debris now. 

“I’ve grown up in the diving industry and in my lifetime I’ve realised we as a community need to work together to lessen Gladstone’s marine debris footprint and protect the Great Barrier Reef.”

GBRMPA and Tangaroa Blue will work with eight Reef Guardian councils along the Great Barrier Reef coast in April and May 2016 to develop plans to reduce marine debris.

The Great Barrier Reef Clean-up is delivered by GBRMPA and funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust in partnership with the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, Tangaroa Blue Foundation, Eco Barge and Reef Guardian councils.