Rub­bish col­lec­tors play vi­tal role

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Sarah Ison

Al­most 330,000 pieces of rub­bish were col­lected on WA beaches by the Mar­garet River-born Tan­garoa Blue Foun­da­tion in 2018, with hopes such mon­i­tor­ing will go on to show if last year’s leg­is­la­tion against sin­gle-use plas­tic bags has been ef­fec­tive.

Tan­garoa Blue is an Aus­tralian char­ity that started with beach clean-ups in the South West in 2004, be­fore spread­ing across the na­tion and is now work­ing through the Pa­cific.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion now in­forms in­ter­na­tional pol­icy through the Aus­tralian Marine De­bris Ini­tia- tive, which sees every piece of de­bris col­lected en­tered into a data sys­tem al­low­ing for the anal­y­sis of ma­te­ri­als and their ori­gins.

As of 2018, the AMDI data­base sur­passed 12.5 mil­lion data points col­lected from 3000 clean up sites across Aus­tralia, which have been re­spon­si­ble for re­mov­ing more than 1000 tonnes of de­bris from the en­vi­ron­ment.

Founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive Heidi Tay­lor said on a global scale, such mon­i­tor­ing had changed pol­icy to­wards marine de­bris pre­ven­tion. “The Mar­itime Safety Au­thor­ity came to us last year and asked if laws put in place in 2013 (prevent­ing boaters from throw­ing de­bris over­board) had re­duced waste,” she said.

“We came back and said look­ing at this data anal­y­sis, there doesn’t seem to be a sig­nif­i­cant de­crease.”

On Oc­to­ber 26 The In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime Or­gan­i­sa­tion pledged to ad­dress the per­sist­ing prob­lem re­vealed by the find­ings of Tan­garoa Blue and other or­gan­i­sa­tions, and adopt a new ac­tion plan to en­hance ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tion.

“Be­cause of this data they were able to put up this new reg­u­la­tion on to the agenda,” Ms Tay­lor said.

Ms Tay­lor pointed out this method of track­ing the suc­cess of reg­u­la­tion aimed at prevent­ing lit­ter en­ter­ing the en­vi­ron­ment would only be­come more im­por­tant af­ter this year’s ban on sin­gle-use plas­tic bags. “We’ll be able to see whether the ban has re­duced that or if we’re just go­ing to see thicker plas­tic bags in the ocean,” she said.

The Clean Up re­port will be re­leased in Fe­bru­ary.

Surfrider Foun­da­tion mem­bers Laura Bai­ley, Law­son Arm­strong, Sholto Arm­strong, 9, Lau­ren Scan­lon, Phoebe Arm­strong, 7, and Blair Darvill.

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