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2010-11 Victorian Surf Coast Report

2011 ReportThe Victorian Surf Coast 2010-2011 project collected 26,670 items of debris weighing 1907Kg from Victorian beaches. This enabled us to characterise the debris, indicate debris sources and to give a very basic comparison between debris on the Surf Coast and inside Port Phillip Bay.

Beach litter and street litter are indicated as the main sources of debris on Victoria's Surf Coast and within Port Phillip Bay. The levels of debris within this project period are likely to reflect a high input of land based litter generated in the September 2010 and the January – February 2011 flood events especially in Port Phillip Bay.

Plastic items made up 82% of the project total and cigarette butts were the most numerous item.

Data from this project shows half of the debris on the Surf Coast is due to litter generated on site or coming from runoff. Offshore inputs of debris onto the Surf coast do not appear substantial - especially at the northern end and inputs of debris onto the Surf Coast from Port Phillip Bay are also likely to be minimal. Longer term monitoring is needed to provide more information about the offshore inputs.

Slightly more than half of the debris on beaches in Port Phillip Bay is also generated directly by littering at the site and coming from nearby and stormwater runoff. The remaining fraction comes from offshore only in the sense of coming from other locations in the bay and again this originates from beach and street litter along with inputs from shipping, boating and fishing activities in the bay.

Regular cleanups carried out between Moggs Creek and Grassy Creek near Fairhaven by St Bernard's College students were conducted in both summer and winter months. Totals of items collected within each of the six months involved ranged from 579 to 1988 items indicating a consistent high level of debris across seasons.

Plastic resin pellets were evident on the Surf Coast and widely found in Port Phillip Bay. Their presence suggests other forms of micro plastic pollutants will also be present within the bay. These include plastic micro particles coming from abrasion of ropes, plastic in the process of breaking down and an emerging class of micro plastic pollutants coming from domestic sources via sewage.

Ongoing community based monitoring and data collection for marine debris on Victorian coasts is highly desirable. Identification of hotspots, runoff sources, debris movement and seasonal fluctuations enables better resource allocation and targeting for mitigation activities. Community involvement also generates community engagement with the marine debris problem.

Summary

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is a non-profit organisation registered on the Department of Environment's Register of Environmental Organisations.

In 2004 Tangaroa Blue founded the South West Marine Debris Project (SWMDP) to focus on the issue of marine debris in the south west region of Western Australia. The aim of the project is to find ways of reducing the amount of marine debris making its way into our oceans and impacting marine life.

In 2010 Tangaroa Blue launched the Victorian Marine Debris Project with the support of Surfrider Foundation Australia and with funding from a Caring for our Country Grant. The aim of the project was to remove debris, identify those items impacting the Victorian coastline, contributing to the Australian Marine Debris Database and engage communities into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative.

Over 5,000 Tangaroa Blue volunteers have collected more than 650,000 items of rubbish from beaches around Australia and New Zealand since 2004. In its seventh year of the Australian Marine Debris Initiative, data on what is making up the debris and where it is coming from is helping to create strategies to reduce the amount of rubbish in local waters.

In every square mile of ocean it is estimated that there are over 46,000 pieces of plastic, resulting in the deaths of more than 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals every year. This includes 20 Australian endangered animals, including sharks, turtles and marine mammals.

Impacts of marine debris on wildlife include entanglement that can cause restricted mobility, drowning, starvation, smothering and wounding, which in turn leads to infections, amputation of limbs and death. Debris may also be confused with prey species and ingested by marine wildlife, causing physical blockage in the digestive system and leading to internal injuries and starvation.

Download The Report

Thanks to

  • Surfrider Foundation Australia & Kristy Theissling
  • Surfrider Foundation Torquay Branch & Melbourne Branch
  • St Kilda Eco Centre
  • St Bernards College – Santa Monica Campus and Mark Smith
  • Great Ocean Road Coast Committee
  • City of Port Phillip
  • 3206 Beach Patrol
  • 3207 Beach Patrol
  • Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Melbourne Branch
  • Two Hands Project
  • Jack Johnson – Ohana Foundation
  • Caring for our Country – Australian Government
  • Clean Across Bass Strait kayaking team