Clean Up at Koombana

Most keen recreational fishers I know hate nothing more than to arrive at a fishing spot and find it looking the council tip. By and large, fishos are pretty good at keeping their local fishing spots and beaches in reasonable condition. However, not everyone is as responsible and many do not do as they should. Even the neatest fishing spot may seem all right at first glance but if we could see what has gone into the water in the way of rubbish, things might not look so rosy.

A few weeks ago, four Bunbury Fisheries volunteers got together with follow volunteers from the Dolphin Discovery Centre, Cancer Council of WA and 60 students from Cooinda Primary School, their teachers and some parents. Their self-appointed mission was to clean up the area around Turkey Point in Koombana Bay and see how much rubbish they could collect in one hour.

20070812-Clean-Up-At-KoombanaClean Up At KoombanaYou may find this hard to believe but there volunteers picked up over one tonne of rubbish in the 60 minutes. This included bits of fibreglass, lots of glass and plastic bottles, a new fishing rod, heaps of old fishing line and, get this, several big car parts, including a bonnet.

Before the vollies went into the water, there given a talk on how to handle the rubbish they would find - what the professionals call "occupational health and safety". This proved important, as some of the stuff was sharp and hard to handle.

Now with all this stuff around the waterline and in the water, you might think there were no rubbish bins in the area. Apparently, this is not the case and the City of Bunbury has installed plenty of bins.

What makes it even sadder is that there is a fishing platform for small kids and people with disabilities at Turkey Point. Anyone fishing from there had a fair chance of losing their lines on all the rubbish that had been dumped in the water.

Also, I am told Turkey Point is where the dolphins that live in Koombana Bay go to breed. Dolphins will sometimes eat plastic bags and if this dumping behaviour continues, these amazing creatures are bound to suffer simply because humans can't clean up their mess.

A big thank you should go to all concerned who took part in the clean-up.

The rubbish problem isn't confined to Turkey Point and it would be good if everyone made an effort to clean up their local fishing spot and beach. Gilbert Stokman, a Department of Fisheries marine education officer paid by the South-West Catchment Council, suggests that if you are a high school teacher, maybe this is a way your students could do the 20 hours of community service that those in Years 10, 11 and 12 are required to do.

On October 13-14, the annual Cape to Cape Beach Clean Up will take place on the coast between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin. Over the past two years, more than 300 volunteers have removed more than 20,000 pieces of marine debris from this coastline. The clean ups are organised by Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society, which hopes to have even more volunteers involved this year. For further details and how to register (which can be done online), go to www.oceancare.org.au and click on projects.

Clean oceans mean healthy fish, marine birds and animals, and they boost the health of people who work and play in marine areas.

Article written by Glen Jakovich and featured in The West Australian Newspaper, August 2007.