Rockhampton says no to marine debris

Rockhampton residents joined forces with the Rockhampton Regional Council and marine debris experts to stop marine debris entering the Great Barrier Reef.

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

GBRMPA project officer Holly Lambert 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 Lambert 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 the source reduction plan was collected from last year’s Great Barrier Reef Clean-up and entered into the Australian Marine Debris database.

“Although Rockhampton isn’t a coastal location it’s still very important for councils in the catchment to be involved in the Australian Marine Debris Initiative as all creeks and rivers lead to the ocean,” Ms Taylor said.

“There were great collaborative ideas and I’m really looking forward to seeing some of the great projects that came out of today’s workshop.”

Rockhampton Regional Councillor Drew Wickerson said they were excited to implement their new source reduction plan and make a difference to their local environment. 

“This data is critical to allowing an effective and collaborative solution to the significant issue of minimising the source of marine debris to be actioned,” Cr Wickerson said.

“The workshop also provided the opportunity for representatives from diverse stakeholder organisations to network and reinforce the cooperative partnerships essential to having positive impact on the problem of marine debris.”

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.