18,000 pieces of plastic are estimated to float in every square kilometre of ocean.
633 species worldwide including 77 Australian species are impacted by marine debris.
Over 75% of what is removed from our beaches is made of plastic.
Tangaroa Blue Foundation is an Australian-wide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris, one of the major environmental issues worldwide. But if all we do is clean-up, that is all we will ever do.
To successfully solve the problem, the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) was created, an on-ground network of volunteers, communities and organisations that contribute data from rubbish collected during beach and river clean-up events to the AMDI Database, and then work on solutions to stop the flow of litter at the source. The AMDI helps communities look after their coastal environment by providing resources and support programs, and collaborates with industry and government to create change on a large scale.
In Maori and Polynesian mythology, Tangaroa is the god of the ocean. Tangaroa made laws to protect the ocean and its sea creatures "Tiaki mai i ahau, maku ano koe e tiaki"... If you look after me, then I will look after you..." When, after a week-long clean-up event, the whales and dolphins come close to our beach and slap their flippers, we sometimes wonder if it is Tangaroa saying "thank you".
During the Western Australian Beach Clean-up event in October 2016, two bunker oil bottles were discovered in the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park by volunteers. The following week, another two bottles were found in the same region by Margaret River locals. The oil bottles were still intact, full of marine fuel oil and with labels on them listing a vessel name, date and crew members’ names.
Heidi Taylor, Managing Director of Tangaroa Blue Foundation said, “Volunteers provided photos and location details which we were able to quickly report to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) for potential investigation. This highlights the value of citizen scientists’ observations while out in the field, our volunteers are not rubbish collectors, but part of a national marine debris CSI team.”
AMSA personnel were able to track the vessel, the “Gloria Island” a bulk carrier registered in Panama, down and board whilst alongside at Thevenard in South Australia. Both the Master and Chief Engineer of the vessel were questioned at length and could not provide any explanation as to how the oil sample bottles made their way overboard. The vessel’s processes regarding bunker oil sampling were also reviewed.
On December 7th 2016, volunteers and partners got an early start to beat the heat for our Crystal Beach clean-up event in Northern QLD! After signing registration forms, a safety briefing was conducted and PPE was handed out. In only 15 minutes time, bags started returning and didn’t stop until we pulled up for a BBQ lunch at midday after working a solid five hours.
As a result a large area of beach was combed clean including the foreshores of illegally built huts where a lot of litter is sourced, other than the visiting careless campers. Sparse shoreline vegetation and camping areas were also cleaned.
The event was an absolute success with a bundle of positive feedback received from all the volunteers and partners who especially appreciated the finale barbeque! Three volunteers joining us from Saunders Beach have taken a great interest in Tangaroa Blue’s ultimate goal of marine debris prevention and will soon be applying for community grants to run their very own community clean-ups throughout the year. They’re hoping to take it further in the removal of numerous white goods that have been illegally dumped along the creek.
Thanks to event sponsors and partners NQ Dry Tropics, QLD Government Natural Resources and Mines, Girringun Aboriginal Corporation and Handi Skips.
Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles released on 25/11 2016 a public discussion paper to ensure the community has its say on the Government’s 2018 ban on light-weight single-use plastic shopping bags.
Dr Miles stressed it was important the Government consulted with the community – and key stakeholders – to ensure the best possible outcomes for all Queenslanders.
“The scientific evidence about the harmful impacts of plastic in the environment is growing every day, and there is considerable support for a plastic bag ban,” Dr Miles said.
“Retailers and environmental and community groups who attended plastic bag workshops in Queensland in 2015, and at a national plastic bag roundtable in Sydney in February 2016, agreed there was a need to restrict single-use plastic shopping bags.
As a leading expert in addressing the marine debris issue, Tangaroa Blue Foundation is coordinating Source Reduction Plan workshops in seven council regions around Port Phillip Bay in 2017 (see more details below). You are invited to participate in this exciting project to tackle marine debris & litter at the source.
Cleaning up areas like beaches, waterways, streets and parks is essential to reduce the impacts of marine debris & litter, but this is only a Band-Aid approach to what has become a major environmental issue worldwide. “If all we do is clean-up, that’s all we’ll ever do” - Heidi Taylor, Tangaroa Blue Foundation. The only way of making a real change is analysing where the litter & debris comes from, and finding ways of stopping it ending up in our ocean and rivers in the first place - a Source Reduction Plan.
Join us in 2017 to help find ways to stop the flow of rubbish into Port Phillip Bay and the Yarra River.