Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

ECO Barge vol­un­teers ramped up the fight against marine de­bris this morn­ing at the Air­lie Beach fore­shore.

More than 50 peo­ple took part in a land-based clean up, fo­cus­ing on black plas­tic drink­ing straws and cig­a­rette butts.

Founder of the Eco Barge group Libby Edge said the or­gan­i­sa­tion was a com­mu­nity based not-for-profit group whose aim was to im­ple­ment a con­stant on-go­ing marine de­bris re­moval pro­gram.

She said Eco Barge had iden­ti­fied south­east fac­ing bays and beaches in the Whit­sun­day Is­land group as prob­lem ar­eas.

“That’s where the rub­bish en­ters the wa­ter from storm wa­ter drains fur­ther south, gets into the cur­rents and the south­east trade winds blow it into the south fac­ing bays,” she said.

Ms Edge said most tourists didn’t see the scale of the marine de­bris prob­lem be­cause most re­sorts were po­si­tioned on north fac­ing is­land bays.

Since July 2009 Eco Barge has re­moved over 147,000kg of marine rub­bish from the wa­ter ways of the Whit­sun­days.

The Great Bar­rier Marine Park Au­thor­ity and the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment Reef Trust have come to­gether to sup­port Eco Barge in their marine de­bris re­moval plan un­til June this year.

Ms Edge said if rub­bish could be col­lected on­shore it would pre­vent plas­tic en­ter­ing the ocean. She added see­ing the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect of plas­tic on the wildlife pop­u­la­tion pro­vided strong mo­ti­va­tion to dis­pose of lit­ter re­spon­si­bly.

FRIENDS OF THE REEF: Eco Barge founder Libby Edge with vol­un­teers Rachel Hutchin­son, Har­mony San­der­son and Bon­nie Syne. Photo Peter Car­ruthers

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