As part of the ReefClean project, microplastic surveys have been conducted in coastal areas surrounding the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). These surveys aim to raise awareness about the environmental impacts of microplastics and contribute to mapping the extent of their accumulation in waterways and beaches.
To ensure the collection of reliable data, the AUSMAP sampling methodology was employed. This method involves taking multiple sediment samples along the shoreline during the most recent high tide. These samples are then sieved to identify microplastic particles ranging from 1 to 5 mm. The collected data is verified by the AUSMAP Scientific Officer, ensuring its scientific reliability.
In 2022, the ReefClean project conducted 34 AUSMAP surveys across six Natural Resource Management (NRM) areas within the GBR monitoring region. Out of these surveys, microplastics were detected in 20 of them.
The samples collected in 2022 exhibited varying levels of microplastic contamination, ranging from Very Low to Moderate. The measured microplastic loads ranged from 0 to 136 microplastics per square meter (mp/m2).
Overall, the results from the 2022 surveys indicate a positive trend. Compared to the previous year’s sampling, all regions within the GBR monitoring area recorded an average decrease in microplastic presence.