18,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to float in every square kilometre of ocean.
276 species worldwide including 77 Australian species are impacted by marine debris.
Tangaroa Blue Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation focused on the health of our marine environment, and coordinates the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, an on-ground network of volunteers, communities, organisations and agencies around the country monitoring the impacts of marine debris along their stretch of coastline.
In Maori and Polynesian mythology, Tangaroa is one of the great gods, the god of the ocean. He is the son of Ranginui and Papatuanuku, Sky and Earth. Tangaroa is the father of many sea creatures and his breaths are the tides. Tangaroa made laws to protect the ocean and its sea creatures "Tiaki mai i ahau, maku ano koe e tiaki"... If you look after me, then I will look after you..."
The organisation was named Tangaroa Blue Foundation to highlight the importance of protecting our oceans and creating programs and resources to help communities look after their local coastal environment.
As a wildlife rescuer who specialises in catching 'flight capable' birds I am acutely aware of the risk posed by any length of fishing line that has been carelessly dropped on the ground. Discarded line is a primary cause of entanglement amongst foraging birds. Once wrapped around a foot or leg the line tightens, then it's only a matter of time before it amputates the affected limb, leaving the bird maimed or causing death by infection. Last year on the Gold Coast I caught and disentangled more than 100 birds.
Photo: Rowley Goonan from Wild Bird Rescues Gold Coast with some of the kilometres of fishing line he collects from the Gold Coast foreshore every year.
A team of 14 ambitious volunteers with the Orpheus Clean-Up Project combed the shores of Orpheus Island from July 9 to July 11, collecting up to 850 kilograms of rubbish and plastic pollutants from two sites — Fig Tree and Big Rock Bays. Both beaches face exposed to the open ocean waves carrying in tons of man-made pollutants.
The team collected 383kg of plastic consumer, packaging and fishing items, as well as 16,000+ remnants. An additional 77kg of rope and net strikes on irresponsible fishing practices. A total of 400 pieces of foam accounted for 6kg of the overall weight, with rubber items including footwear, toys, tyres and remnants equating to 215kg, and metal items weighing in at 50 kilograms.
Our latest clean-up on Coconut Beach in the Daintree national park was a day in paradise. 14 volunteers (some of them left home at 5.30 am to make it to the event!) swarmed out on this this clear cool winter's day to collect what they could on this tropical beach in Far North QLD.
The biggest reward for the lucky finder was an almost new fishing rod. Otherwise 21 bags and 178 kg were removed after we only cleaned this beach 6 months ago!
It was rewarding to see how keen the crew of a local resort was to learn the data entry to conduct regular clean-ups on their own stretch of beach in the future. But the euphoric vibe came with a twist: We found an unusual number of balloons and dug out a giant pile of plastic wrap, filling over 2 bags and weighing some 60+ kg alone! With so much plastic floating around you wonder what it does to the wildlife.
The sixth Darwin Harbour Clean-Up saw over 150 people working across eight sites on land and eight on the water, with 18 boats working around the Harbour on June 26th.
“This year an estimated total of 1.2 tonne of rubbish was collected, with some of the top items including 3,300 cigarettes butts, 3,132 metres of fishing line, 1,656 bits of broken hard plastic, 9 shopping trolleys and 13 lost or abandoned recreational crab pots,” said Northern Territory Seafood Council, Project Officer, Ms Lyn Lambeth.