Darwin Harbour Clean-up 2019

Darwin, a beautiful jewel of a city within its macro-tidal harbour, is known for its easy-going lifestyle, parties and drinking a lot of beer. Highlights on the calendar include the Beer Can Regatta – a race on rafts made of beer cans – and Territory Day, when for one day it is completely legal for anyone to light up the night sky with fireworks. The catchment for Darwin Harbour is around 3,230 square kilometres with over one third being estuarine areas.

For the past 10 years the Annual Darwin Harbour Clean Up, held in July, has removed debris from the harbour that has accumulated over the past 12 months. Sponsors include the City of Darwin, Conoco Phillips, INPEX-operated Ichthys LNG and Territory Natural Resource Management. This year the harbour clean-up was held on Monday the 15th of July and was run by the Larrakia Nation Land and Sea Rangers. Many local boats participated, representing 35 organisations, with 134 volunteers picking up debris across 9 sites. Tangaroa Blue Foundation was invited to manage the data collection and follow up to train the Larrakia Rangers in our data collection protocol on the Tuesday.

Three Tangaroa Blue staff were up early on Monday to be greeted by a bright, sunny day with a light wind. After a breakfast at Mad Snake Café, a Darwin favourite where keep cups are free to take and are donated by locals to the ceramic cup basket in store, the team set off on their adventures for the day. I (Shelli) was lucky enough to catch the Sealink Ferry for free across to Wagait Beach. There I met with a bunch of kids, the Kenbi Rangers and some local council members to clean-up the beautiful beach.

The kids had so much fun, collected a large piece of net and were delighted to drag each other and the clean-up bags on the netting back up the beach. Once back at the sports ground we ate a yummy lunch provided by the local community and then sorted and counted all of the debris. Many helpful hands counted items like beer cans, glass and plastic bottles and lots of fireworks.

Back at the Fishermans Wharf Sylvia and Dan managed all of the debris coming in from the boats, the local NRM and the 40 RAAF employees who cleaned up the land-based sites. There were 138 bags filled plus large items such as shopping trolleys, car tyres and chairs. In total weighing a massive 1364 kg, not including a car and trailer found at Wagait Beach. Overall there was a reduction in marine debris this year, as the previous clean up collected 1792 kg of debris with slightly fewer volunteers. The team finished up the day with a visit to Mindil Markets to watch an amazing sunset over the beach.

Tuesday dawned bright and warm with the team making their way to the Larrakia Rangers shed where the counting and sorting commenced. The Larrakia Nation are the traditional owners of the Darwin region. They have a deep, spiritual connection with their country and are responsible for making sure it is respected by all those that use it. Larrakia country runs from Cox peninsula in the west to Gunn Point in the north, Adelaide River in the east and down to the Manton Dam area southwards.

Ten people worked in 3 teams to record the data and train in using the Australian Marine Debris Database Initiative (AMDI) App. The App is a great way to record the data, much easier than using the website and it is more portable as it can be used on your smartphone or tablet. First the data was recorded onto hard copy data sheets, so there is always a hard copy available, and then it was recorded on the AMDI App. The App has the ability to record photos of the items as well as notes about specifics and also records the GPS position on the map.

We had a great couple of days seeing the sights in Darwin, enjoying eating at the diverse restaurants and cafes and being out making a difference for the City of Darwin and its beautiful harbour, beaches and waterways. We are all looking forwards to next year’s clean-up. Let’s hope that every year we find less debris and are able to reduce the problem items!

Written by Shelli van Santen

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