Who on Earth Cares about Cape York Beaches?

200907 CooktownThe Community of Cairns and Cooktown Cares

Submitted by Sue Hayes ACF Volunteer

On the weekend two community beach clean ups helped to remove mountains of plastic waste and marine debris from our beautiful Cape York beaches. Volunteers from both Cairns and Cooktown came together with the help of local businesses, and environmental and community organisations, to put in a grand effort to remove over 20 cubic metres of rubbish.

Archer Point, with its picturesque beaches, is often inundated with flotsam and jetsam brought in by the various ocean currents as well trash from local campers. To remove this latest rubbish were a small informal group of 6 people made up of Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) staff and volunteers from Cairns as well as Heidi Taylor from Tangaroa Blue Foundation from Port Douglas. In a 2hr blitz these volunteers collected over 21 bags of rubbish weighing almost 100kgs. Some of these items included 94 shoes, (mostly consisting of thongs), 154 plastic drink bottles, 330 remnants of plastic bags, 1371 bits of plastic scraps, 94 polystyrene foam bits and 280 lids.

The second day was a more coordinated effort organised by Cape York NRM Working Group with over 30 people participating in a massive beach clean up spanning approximately 4.4kms on North Shore beach directly opposite Cooktown. This beach is only really accessible by boat, so with the fantastic efforts of QPWS Marine Parks & Land based Ranger, Cooktown Cruisers and the Cooktown Volunteer Coast Guard, the volunteers were safely ferried to the beach. Quad bikes generously provided by Darren Maudsley 'Gofer' and Lyle, were essential in transporting over 150 rubbish bags collected along the length of the beach to the mainland and into the Council skip. Other volunteers came from Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Cape York Weeds and Feral Animal Project (CYWAFAP), Country Women's Association (CWA), South Cape York Catchment (SCYC), Tangaroa Blue Foundation, Cape York Marine Advisory Group (CYMAG), The Lure Shop, as well as other local community members.


Origin and Conservation Volunteers Australia at the Beach!

In March this year Origin achieved the milestone of half a million green energy accounts – and to celebrate they partnered with Conservation Volunteers Australia to help contribute to the health of the Great Barrier Reef. Ten projects along the Queensland Coast from Brisbane to Cairns have been sponsored including beach clean-ups to remove rubbish that can be fatal for marine animals.

Origin's sponsored projects will impact on half a million m2 (50 hectares) of land to ensure the health of waterways – bring together more than 500 customers and employees for a better environment and involve more than 500 volunteer days. As well as the beach clean ups, projects including weed control in catchment areas to help restore native biodiversity, revegetation projects to help prevent bank erosion and improve water quality, fencing programs to keep out uncontrolled stock and seed collection to provide an insurance policy.


What a Load of Rubbish!

20090626 Burnett River11 volunteers from the local commercial fishing industry, OceanWatch Australia, Burnett Mary Regional Group and Sustainabundy filled two skip bins of rubbish collected from the shores of the Burnett River, in just 2 hours on Friday 26th June 2009. The clean-up was an initiative of local commercial fishers and OceanWatch Australia, a national not-for-profit organisation that works to promote sustainability in the Australian seafood industry.

Rubbish collected from 1.5 kilometres of the northern rock training wall included five sheets of iron, three old crab pots, six large pieces of carpet, a tow bar, several lonely thongs, and about 30 bags of litter. The assortment of litter consisted mainly of beer bottles, aluminium cans, paper, plastic bottles, rope, fishing twine, and bait bags, and filled 2 skip bins. Photo: Michelle Haase at one of the three rubbish pick up points.


Woody Island Clean Up Part 2

20090605 WoodyDuring the LIPS / Tangaroa Blue clean up on Low Isles and Woody Island on May 17th, hundreds of metres of rope was found and was unable to be removed due to the size on the day. Today, June 5th, volunteers were able to return to Woody Island to collect the rope and remove it from the island. Photo: Rick, Alex, Mick and Gabby on Woody Island removing the rope.

Many thanks to Alex and Rick - caretakers of Low Isles, Mick and Gabrielle for joining Tangaroa Blue co-founder Heidi in the rope mission! Absolutely glorious weather enabled us to bring the boat close to the location where volunteers had tied up the rope to ensure it wouldn't end up back in the ocean on the high tides.

Rainbow Beach & Fraser Island Clean Up May 2009

200905 Fraser IslandThe impacts of marine debris on the Australian marine environment are well documented, with over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals being killed every year by floating plastics, and over 18,000 pieces of plastic being found in every square kilometre of ocean our marine environment resembles a rubbish tip!

Local volunteer Jennifer Parkhurst has joined forces with Tangaroa Blue Foundation and the Rainbow Beach Primary School to address marine debris on Fraser Island and Rainbow Beach with funding assistance through a 2009 Queensland Government Natural Resources Awareness Grant. The grant focused on marine debris on and around two Queensland Heritage Listed Islands: Low Isles off the coast of Port Douglas in Far North Queensland and Fraser Island.