Tangaroa goes national
PORT Douglas- based charity Tangaroa Blue has aligned with the Federal Government in its fight to reduce marine debris washing up along Australia’s coastline.
Tangaroa Blue’s fight for marine environment health is growing in momentum, with the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture recognising their efforts by signing an a memorandum of understanding.
Since TB was founded in 2004, they have collected 2.5 million items of marine debris and currently have volunteers located at over 1000 beaches actively involved in their Australian Marine Debris Initiative.
Founder Heidi Taylor went to Canberra recently to sign the MoU before returning to attend the Douglas Reef Rally, before flying back out to a remote corner of Northern Territory 400km west of Darwin.
‘‘ I’m working with a team Wadeye who are joining the Australia marine debris initiative, I am doing some training on marine debris surveys and setting up monitoring sites with them,’’ she explained.
‘‘When we first started it was really concentrated where we focused on the rubbish on a small section of coast line and now we have people in over 1080 beaches around the country, it’s a major network and so humbling to know people here in Wadeye are just as concerned about marine pollution as guys in major cities.
‘‘It’s about bringing everybody together and finding solutions, and in Cape York over the last few years we have found stuff that’s posed a biosecurity threat to Australia and the MoU gives us a huge amount of credibility aligning with the federal government over something as important as biosecurity.’’
Ms Taylor said when volunteers come across potential biosecurity threats they have been dealing with the Northern Australian Quarantine service on how to correctly dispose of the debris and with growing reports nationally, the MoU is enabling them to stream- line the process.
‘‘It’s also providing us feedback, the department is going to send us a six-monthly report back on whatever gets found - sometimes we bags of galley-waste from a cargo ship that’s come from the kitchen and some cases old canoes and rafts made of wood - you couldn’t bring this in to Australia if you flew in, it poses a risk,’’ she said.
‘‘In Canberra we had a meet and greet with the Sea Ports program, which is part of the Department of Agriculture, where the MoU is being housed under, and the whole DAFF (Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Fores- tries) were invite to come get an understanding of the Australia Debris initiative - I think this is a great way to get the maximum use of data.
‘‘Our volunteers on the ground are way more than just rubbish collectors, they are involved in the solutions, data collection and reporting - now there is more value in their efforts.’’
Colin Hunter, from the Department of Agriculture’s Border Compliance Division, said the not-forprofit organisation would work with the shipping industry to minimise and eliminate biosecurity waste from becoming marine debris.
‘‘ The national network of Tangaroa Blue volunteers give up their time to collect and log information about debris that washes up on Australia’s beaches,’’ Mr Hunter said.
‘‘Knowing what biosecurity risk material is washing up and knowing where it’s coming from means we can target our awareness efforts.
‘‘Safeguarding the country from unwanted pests and diseases is a shared responsibility; we all need to play our part.’’
Meanwhile Tangaroa Blue is getting wide spread publicity after three paddleboarders set off on their challenge to cross the Bass Strait, leaving Monday from Victoria to Tasmania. The guys are crossing the Strait to raise awareness of ocean pollution and fundraise for Tangaroa blue. The next Tangaroa Blue clean up is on Lizard Island March 6-8 - www.tangaroablue.org
Heidi Taylor and Colin Hunter signing the MoU