DEEP Joins 80 Others in Massive Marine Debris Clean-up!
Last weekend, DEEP participated in the Huon Marine Debris Clean-up at the mouth of the Huon River, which debouches into the culturally, ecologically and economically significant D’Entrecasteaux Channel. The clean-up was held by the D’Entrecasteaux and Huon Collaboration, a partnership between industry, government and natural resource managers in south-eastern Tasmania. Bringing together people from various organisations, community groups, industries and businesses, the event created a cooperative atmosphere in which positive change could occur. Some of the participating groups included: the Kingborough and Huon Valley Councils, Tas Water, the Derwent Estuary Program, Parks & Wildlife Service, Huon Aquaculture, Tassal, Pakana Services, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Bruny Island Boat Club.
The DEEP group were allocated a magnificent stretch of coast-line near Verona Sands, where we spent two hours trawling the beach for litter. At first glance the beach looked litter-free; how wrong we were. The thick coastal vegetation lining the beach was littered with plastic bottles, cigarette butts, polystyrene, rope, broken glass, small pieces of soft and hard plastics, a large rusty knife, an old fishing rod and glass stubbies – so many stubbies! Grass clippings, riddled with soft plastics, had been dumped on the coastal vegetation. We also noticed an absurd amount of dog droppings along the vegetation line. This was disappointing, considering the emphasis on responsible dog ownership in recent years, and perhaps shows the impact one or two dogs can cause, if not managed appropriately. The DEEP group filled five large bags with debris and took them back to the Charlotte Cove meeting point to add to the other 31 bags collected by participating groups! After a delicious BBQ lunch provided by the organisers, everyone pitched in to sort and record the type and amount of debris found. Some of the larger items included a fridge and an engine!
Cleaning up our coastal areas has ecological, aesthetic, economic, and human health benefits. Most of the debris collected was land-based (not brought in by ocean currents) but can easily be washed into the Channel and out to sea. This is significant because members of the public have the power to change the amount of debris in coastal and ocean areas by changing their day-to-day practices, for example by reducing plastic use (especially single-use plastics), disposing of rubbish appropriately and recycling.
The results of the clean-up will contribute to the Australian Marine Debris Database, a national database which aims to clean-up Australia’s coast line, track where coastal debris is coming from and create solutions to waste entering oceans by collaborating with all stakeholders. As scientists, knowing that our efforts will be used to better inform practice is particularly satisfying for DEEP members. Considering the exceptional views, good company and delicious lunch provided by the organisers, participation was a no-brainer and we plan to join future events. A huge thank you to Amelia Fowles and the D’Entrecasteaux & Huon Collaboration team for organising the clean-up and having us on board. For more information on this and future clean-up events, head to the NRM South website.
15th May 2019