Marine debris month

Over the month of May, the Huon and Channel communities came together to clean up beaches and foreshore areas in their regions.Clean-up sites included Dover, Alonnah to Simpsons Point on Bruny Island, Garden Island, and Randalls Bay to Nine Pin Point in the Huon Estuary.

More than 36 m3 of marine debris was collected over the course of this “Marine Debris Month”, and over 150 people were involved in a series of clean-up events. This included staff from Huon Aquaculture, Tassal Tasmanian Salmon, TasWater and NRM South, school students from Sacred Heart Primary School, Glen Huon Primary School and support from the Bookend Trust’s Coast Watchers program, volunteers from Conservation Volunteers Australia, Bruny Island Boat Club, Port Cygnet Landcare and Watercare Group, Friends of Randalls Bay Coastcare Group and the Huon Valley Roamers Landcare Group.

Collaboration Coordinator Nepelle Crane said the events had been very successful, but the level of marine debris – particularly plastics – was concerning.

“We began the clean-ups last year, and it was pleasing to re-visit a site on Bruny Island and collect less than half the volume of debris this time. But there is still a lot of new rubbish entering our waterways, and that presents a threat to marine life and the industries and recreational activities that rely on the Channel and Huon estuaries.”

As well as rope, nets and other fishing gear, there was a large amount of soft plastic rubbish, Ms Crane said.

“Thousands of wrappers and plastic bags have been collected. We encouraged the children to have a competition to see how many pieces of plastic they can find in a small area, and at one beach more than 400 pieces of plastic were collected in only 10 square metres.”

The clean-up events will conclude with a small working bee with Port Esperance Coastcare to remove 14 old tyres that have washed up on the Dover foreshore, whilst the Coast Watchers program – in partnership with the Bookend Trust – will continue with schools in the Channel and Huon areas throughout the year.

The Collaboration plans on running the clean ups annually, but they are seeking further sponsorship to support marine debris clean ups in the future.

“We have had fantastic support, with well over a hundred people participating this year, but that only covers a small part of our coastline. We have so much interest from people wanting to volunteer just a couple of hours – if we can generate more financial support to continue our coordinated approach to marine debris clean-ups, we can really make an enormous difference in our local area.”