Marine debris workshop – taking local action on a global issue

Marine debris is a major global issue that kills millions of animals each year, but dedicated locals are taking action to protect our oceans.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation recently hosted a Source Reduction Workshop at Pallarenda, where twenty community volunteers and industry representatives discussed marine debris and how to manage it.

Heidi Taylor from Tangaroa Blue Foundation said the workshop provided insight into current activities to address marine debris, and examined data collated through various clean‐ups in Townsville over consecutive years.

“The data indicates that plastics and microplastics account for over 69 per cent of rubbish items collected across the Townsville region.  This information comes from 30 community driven clean‐ups run from 2012 to 2015,” Ms Taylor said. “The only way of making a real change is analysing where the debris comes from and finding ways of stopping it from ending up in the ocean in the first place – a Source Reduction Plan,” she explained.

The data demonstrated that cigarette butts, bottle caps and straws are the most common plastic items found on our beaches and in our waterways.

Event participants, including representatives from NQ Dry Tropics, Townsville City Council and Great Barrier Reef  Marine Park Authority, focused on these items for source reduction planning. This involved locating where they are generated, and working to address the problem by identifying key stakeholders and devising targeted actions.

Earlier this year, Tangaroa Blue was one of six Townsville‐based groups that shared a total of $43,500 to deliver a range of local on‐ground environmental projects, under NQ Dry Tropics’ Community Landcare Grants 2015‐2016 programme. NQ Dry Tropics delivered the funding through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

NQ Dry Tropics Project Officer, Kirralee Donovan said it was important to develop achievable action‐based solutions.

“It is easy to get overwhelmed with the scale of marine debris issues. The workshop empowered participants to focus on solutions that we, as a community, can successfully achieve to make a difference to the health of the Great Barrier Reef.”

For more information and updates on environmental community events, like the Volunteering Dry Tropics Facebook page.