Rethinking the use of plastics is a key focus for Bundaberg schools and organisations during this the International Year of the Reef.
They made the pledge to reduce the use of plastic, with a focus on single-use plastics, at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s recent Reef Guardian networking meeting in Bundaberg.
The annual event brings together locals working in environmental fields and Reef Guardian schools to discuss how they can look after the environment — it’s particularly timely given it’s also International Year of the Reef.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority engagement officer Rhianna Rickard said there was a real buzz in the air about the topic of plastics.
“Marine debris — which is mostly made up of plastics — is one of the top five threats to the Reef and those attending the event were very keen to focus on reducing their plastic use this year,” she said.
“This includes refusing single-use shopping bags, opting for beeswax wraps and saying no to straws and coffee cups.
“International Year of the Reef is a global initiative encouraging ways every one, every where can do little things to benefit reefs around the world.
“The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef ecosystem on the planet so those who live in the adjacent catchment and those who visit the Reef can help protect this amazing natural treasure.”
Students from eight local schools and represenatives from 11 partner organisations attend the event — they heard from marine science expert Dr Kathy Townsend from the University of the Sunshine Coast about the impacts of marine debris specifically on turtle and manta species and brainstormed the action they could take for the benefit of their local envionment and the Reef.
“It was great to see the schools and organisations working together discussing the best actions to take for their local environment,” Ms Rickard said.
“Fostering partnerships and working together across all sectors in Reef management and the community is a key focus for the Marine Park Authority under the Reef Blueprint.”
The Reef Guardian program recognises the good environmental work undertaken by communities, organisations and industries to protect the Reef.
It involves working closely with those who use and rely on the Reef or its catchment, for recreation or business, to help build a healthier and more resilient Reef for the future.
Similar Reef Guardian networking meetings will roll out across the Reef catchment over the next month.
The International Year of the Reef is an International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) campaign. The Marine Park Authority will co-chair the ICRI secretariat with Monaco in the 2018–2010 term, which includes International Year of the Reef activities.