2010 South West Marine Debris Project Report

This year’s South West Beach Cleanup targeted sites between Albany on the south coast and Geraldton on the mid west coast. Additional cleanups were conducted further north at Kalbarri and Broome. Cleanups also went offshore to Rottnest Island. The cleanup was the culmination of a busy year of cleanups generating data from a wider geographical region, conducting plastic resin pellet surveys, providing education, presentations and participating in various events promoting marine environmental awareness.

Our formal regular monitoring programme on the capes coast has now expanded to include a south coast site and a west coast site and is being complimented with regular cleanups at additional sites around the coast. These ongoing regular monitoring activities provide important “seasonal” aspects to the data, and as can be seen below, our database is enabling both a broad picture for most of the coast and detailed information about a growing number of cleanup locations.

Mitigation activities this year included the installation of cigarette butt bins and cooperative work with state and local government authorities in Perth which has resulted in initial steps being taken to address the loss of resin pellets into the Swan River.

With support from Coastwest and Keep Australia Beautiful Council, WA, the opportunity to expand the South West Marine Debris Project further throughout Western Australia was undertaken. With the engagement of schools, community groups, industry, government agencies and individuals, presentations and workshops were held along coastal locations around the state highlighting the marine debris issue and working on practical ways that local communities can address this issue on a local level. Through these activities marine debris projects have now successfully been initiated throughout Western Australia.

This year’s data is presented in the form of tables which offer a range of information about each cleanup site. The tables show whether the debris originates from local or offshore sources, how the site compares to other sites in the coastal regions, and which categories of debris represent the main problem at the site.

In 2009 we began collecting data on commercial fishing remnants and this year’s activities in the mid west coastal region have shown how extensive this group of items is with data currently indicating these remnants making up 36% of all debris on that coast. Other items of interest this year were medical waste believed to have been dumped overboard by a passing ship and some remnants of items used in blasting operations and thought to have originated from the desalination plant construction site near Binningup.

Several cleanups and visits to groynes, jetties and marinas have highlighted such locations as potent point sources for marine debris. Management and housekeeping practices at these locations need to be established or refocussed with the aim of preventing this input of trash into the ocean.

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