Yeppoon says no to marine debris

Yeppoon residents joined forces with the Livingstone Shire 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 Yeppoon 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 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 the source reduction plan was collected from last year’s Great Barrier Reef Clean-up and entered into the Australian Marine Debris database.

“Since last year’s community effort in removing marine debris after cyclone Marcia it’s been great to come back and work with all our partners to analyse the data,” Ms Taylor said. 

“We’ve now developed three strategic projects to address local marine debris problems.”

In October last year volunteers removed more than 600 kilograms of marine debris from Barwells Creek, Lammermoor Beach South and Fisherman’s Beach as part of the Great Barrier Reef Clean-up.

Livingstone Shire Council Environmental Councilor Adam Belot said they were excited to implement their new source reduction plan and make a difference to their local environment. 

“We want to set the standard for ensuring our marine environments are the cleanest they possibly can be,” Cr Belot said.

“Any debris that comes on to our coastline is an issue, whether it be coming from the river, off a fishing vessel, ending up on our beaches that becomes an issue to our marine animals and is something we want to be on the front foot  to improve.”

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.