The 2021 WA Beach Clean-up Report is here!

The 2021 Western Australia Beach Clean-up Report summarises the state-wide clean-ups from Tangaroa Blue Foundations’ annual event.

Over 90 organisations, volunteer groups, community members and businesses joined in the 2021 Western Australian Beach Clean-up. At 100 events, over 3 tonnes of debris was
removed by 1,439 volunteers over 3,800 hours and 214 kilometres.

While fewer events were held in 2021 than 2020 and 2019, more volunteers contributed to the event and collected a larger weight of debris over a greater distance. Volunteer effort, was unsurprisingly, concentrated in the most populous regions, the South West and Swan River.

Christmas Island had the highest density of debris at 0.141 pieces per square metre, while the South Coast region had the lowest density at 0.001. In regional and remote areas, the debris was dominated by items from an offshore source, such as the high levels of rope and net scraps found in the South Rangelands region.

Plastic materials such as plastic bits & pieces, plastic food packaging, and plastic film remnants dominated the top three item lists in all regions, with rope and cigarette butts and filters found at high levels in several regions as well. All data was entered into the AMDI Database and will inform management strategy recommendations and plans in the future.

Download a copy of the report here.

Important Safety Reminder – Dangerous Items

In recent weeks, there have been several reports of silver canisters being found during beach clean-ups. These items are considered extremely dangerous and must be reported immediately by calling 000.  These canisters are filled with aluminium phosphide, a toxic combination of chemicals that are fatal to ingest or inhale. One of the most concerning aspects of these canisters is that they have no label, and for the curious mind they are tempting to pick up.

The most recent sighting was at Conway Beach in the Whitsundays, however they have been found in many locations around Australia. These silver canisters are used for pest control on ships, and a large spill occurred off the north-east coast of Australia a few years ago. This is a timely reminder that these canisters are still washing up, several years after the spill at sea.

What to do if you find a silver canister?

  •         Do not touch it. If in doubt, treat it as a dangerous item.
  •         Stand up wind to avoid possible inhalation and alert people in the vicinity.
  •         Mark the area with brightly coloured tape or sticks and record the GPS location.
  •         If you are conducting a clean-up activity, alert the Coordinator.
  •         Call 000 and report the dangerous item with its exact location.
  •         Fire and Emergency Services will respond with their team wearing hazmat suits and oxygen tanks.

Download the Silver Canister Safety Poster here.

Another hazardous item is asbestos, a fibrous material that usually presents as grey corrugated sheets. If suspected, do not touch the item, as inhaling the fibres can cause serious health problems. Mark the area with sticks or brightly coloured tape and record the GPS coordinates. Contact the local ranger or local council office to report the asbestos and they will advise of their course of action. Download the Asbestos Safety Poster here.

There may be other instances where you come across potentially dangerous items and the appropriate authorities need to be notified. For items that clearly pose an immediate threat to people or wildlife, such as weapons, explosives or toxic chemicals, contact the local police or ranger. When doing your beach clean-ups, please remember that safety must always come first.

Monitoring methodologies to standardise citizen science data

In an Australian first, the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) has released monitoring protocols for litter and marine debris. These proven methodologies have been developed in collaboration with experts from UNSW, UTAS, SCU, MU as well as the Tangaroa Blue Foundation data team. They offer a standardised approach for citizen scientists collecting this important data on a national scale.

Read more “Monitoring methodologies to standardise citizen science data”

Join ReefClean’s 2022 Great Barrier Reef Clean-up!

Join ReefClean’s Great Barrier Reef Clean-up!

Are you a citizen scientist who is concerned about the health of the Great Barrier Reef? Maybe a school or community group who would like to monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef? Or are you a  member of the local government, and would like to lead by example by becoming actively involved in contributing to the overall health of one of the most biologically diverse environments on this planet? Well then continue reading!

This October marks the start of our month-long series of events that focus on looking after our Reef. Tangaroa Blue Foundation, through the ReefClean Project is calling all ocean lovers to participate in the Great Barrier Reef Clean-Up. A number of flagship events will be held over the course of the month – stay tuned for these locations!

 To volunteer at a Flagship location, please click here.

This coming October will be our fourth year coordinating the Great Barrier Reef Clean-Up month! Ocean lovers from all over the GBR have generously contributed just over 9,000 hours of their time which has resulted in just under 14 tonnes of debris removed during previous years events.

The Great Barrier Reef Clean-Up is not limited to these flagship events, so make sure you monitor our events for more opportunities to get involved! The program also invites groups to adopt and register their own coastal or waterway sites to be cleaned throughout the month, so if you know of a site in your area that needs attention, we encourage you to register that site and get a group together.

Click here to register your own site.

ReefClean is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation in partnership with AUSMAP, Capricornia Catchments, Eco Barge Clean Seas, Reef Check Australia, and South Cape York Catchments.

Join the Great Barrier Reef Clean-up today!

NT bans helium balloons in Australian first

Thanks to the tireless efforts and lobbying from conservation partners, community organisations and the general public, 7 out of 8 Australian states and territories have now pledged to end single-use plastics. The types of plastics vary slightly from jurisdictions, but any step to remove millions of plastic items from ending up in either landfill or our oceans is a step in the right direction.

Image credit: Suzette Warnes

Most recently the Northern Territory joined the list, releasing their NT Circular Economy Strategy 2022-2027 in which it outlines its commitment to ban single-use plastics by 2025.

The most exciting addition to the NT’s waste reduction strategy includes a ban on helium balloons. The Northern Territory will be the first jurisdiction in Australia to bring in this ban.

According to the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, balloons are the biggest killer of Australian seabirds and one of the most lethal types of debris for marine animals.

Helium balloons are particularly dangerous because they have the ability to go further from shore when filled with gas. The damage they can cause as a true marine debris item to whales, dolphins, turtles and fish is immense. Banning helium balloons is a true source reduction option- it removes the risk or source of accidental and deliberate release of a potentially fatal debris item.

Balloons of any kind are a persistent risk to wildlife. There are so many options available to use as a substitute during celebrations or memorials that are sustainable and effective at marking a special occasion with loved ones. Tangaroa Blue Foundation will continue to support the lobbying efforts of our AMDI partner organisation No Balloon Release Australia in their efforts to create further awareness and action regarding the sale and release of balloons and helium balloons.

Image credit: Sharyn Morris

It is our hope that more states across Australia will follow the Northern Territory’s lead in this landmark ban. Although 2025 seems a long time away, we applaud the Northern Territory Government for taking steps to reduce the damage caused by single-use plastics and helium balloons.

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