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Marine Debris

18,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to float in every square kilometre of ocean.

633 species worldwide including 77 Australian species are impacted by marine debris.

Over 75% of what is removed from our beaches is made of plastic.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is an Australian-wide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris, one of the major environmental issues worldwide. But if all we do is clean-up, that is all we will ever do.

To successfully solve the problem, the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) was created, an on-ground network of volunteers, communities and organisations that contribute data from rubbish collected during beach and river clean-up events to the AMDI Database, and then work on solutions to stop the flow of litter at the source. The AMDI helps communities look after their coastal environment by providing resources and support programs, and collaborates with industry and government to create change on a large scale.

In Maori and Polynesian mythology, Tangaroa is the god of the ocean. 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..." When, after a week-long clean-up event, the whales and dolphins come close to our beach and slap their flippers, we sometimes wonder if it is Tangaroa saying "thank you".

Sixth International Marine Debris Conference

6IMDCSocialMediaImageHeidi Taylor, Tangaroa Blue Managing Director, recently attended the Sixth International Marine Debris Conference, in San Diego, 12–16 March. These conferences are held infrequently — the last was in Hawaii in 2011. Heidi gave two presentations, one on citizen science programs and one on the Australian Marine Debris Initiative being a national marine debris hub. Some interesting presentations and discussions were had over the course of the week including the following.

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NQ Dry Tropics full of activity

Townsville 2018Over the month of March, Tangaroa Blue, along with partners and dedicated community members in the Townsville and Burdekin region, completed five clean-ups to celebrate Clean-up Australia Day and carry out projects supported by NQ Dry Tropics through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. The team of 74 participants to Townsville removed 175kg from the local shorelines and 19 Alva Beach locals added an extra 190kg from their beach.

The coast from Townsville to the Burdekin in North Queensland is lined with marine habitats that support entire ecosystems and wildlife that are vulnerable and endangered. To protect and conserve this critical habitat, clean-ups stretched from Shelly Cove to Pallarenda, to the waterways of Ross River that run out to Cleveland Bay, and further south to Alva Beach where the SS Yongala sunk offshore, becoming a famous dive site and a magnificent life-supporting ocean oasis. 

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TerraCycle giving new life to debris

2017 BalingHave you ever wondered where all the plastics end up from the remote Tangaroa Blue clean-up events? After we sort, categorise, count and weigh all the items removed from the beach, Tangaroa Blue thoughtfully disposes of all the rubbish. We try and keep as much away from landfill as possible, saving some for artists to make amazing creations, and recycling where we can.

Our friends at TerraCycle have made that job so much easier. TerraCycle takes really hard to recycle plastics, think degraded brittle bits found on beaches – and turns it into materials and products that can be used again – creating a circular economy for what was once waste!

From the last two years, over 40 metric tonnes of plastic rubbish was collected and bailed during our Cape York clean-ups, at the end of 2017 a full shipping container was sent to TerraCycle for a new life. To see it for yourself, check out the video here. It’s partnerships like these that are the heart of the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, everyone working together to reduce plastic in our oceans.

The Last Straw on the GBR Video

More than 32 Cairns and Port Douglas businesses have joined The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef! Check out how to get involved!

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Did you know?

Since 2004 Tangaroa Blue volunteers and partners have been hard at work cleaning our beaches!

  • Number of clean-up sites: 2 460
  • Number of volunteers: 99 214
  • Number of tonnes removed: 878 tonnes
  • Number of items removed: 9 787 171 items
  • Number of volunteer hours: 249 085 hours
  • Number of clean-ups: 10 992