Tagai State College Year 8 students recently attended camps at Bampfield on Prince of Wales Island.
As part of their activities students conducted clean ups at the camp site including removing over 100m of ghost nets and ropes.
But most concerning was the amount of litter left by visitors at the camp site. Plastic drink bottles, food wrappers, cans and bottles from local sources were mixed in with debris washing from international sources such as Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Information the debris collected was added to the Australian Marine Debris Database which is a national program focused on the removal of marine debris and collecting data to track debris to the source. This data is then used by communities, industry and government agencies to find ways of keeping our oceans healthier and cleaner.
To date data collected from Thursday Island indicates that approximately 68% comes from local sources, showing that even though a lot of debris comes from overseas, there is still a litter problem on the island.
Students were very keen to find ways of reducing this and will look at introducing a campaign to reduce the use of single use plastic bags on their islands, as well as spreading information through their schools on the impacts that litter has when it enters the ocean.
Tracy Ford, a teacher from Thursday Island Secondary School said “It was fantastic to see the students being so passionate about the environment. Heidi and the girls worked solidly trying to remove a tangled ghost net after they had already cleaned areas of the beach. When we left Bampfield I felt very proud and inspired by the difference the students had made!”
We look forward to seeing the on-going data from the students to see if their efforts will help reducing the percentage of debris on the beaches coming from local sources.