Territory’s grubbiest beach cops motherload of marine rubbish
CAPE Arnhem is the Territory’s dirtiest beach, according to an Australia-wide survey of marine debris.
The National Marine Debris Project, a joint venture between CSIRO and Earthwatch Australia funded by Shell, set out to identify and understand the threat marine debris poses to Australian wild- life and ecosystems. The cleanest beach in the NT, according to the survey, was Cape Hay near Wadeye.
Cape Arnhem, near Nhulunbuy, was considered the worst. In August, conservation volunteers collected 2030kg of debris from Cape Arnhem over five days.
Its location, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, is thought to be a major contributor.
‘‘The season of south westerly winds which historically commences in April and continues until August is the time of the highest amount of marine debris washing ashore on the south-easterly facing beaches,’’ a report said.
The survey found that on the western side of the Territory, currents wash debris away from the Top End and down along the west coast.
By mapping out where and how rubbish is accumulating along our coastlines, the researchers hope to provide government, policy makers and the public with the simplest, most effective ways to reduce garbage going into the oceans and other waterways. Such debris was identified by the Federal Government in 2009 as one of the key threats to marine life in its National Threat Abatement Plan.
Researchers will also provide a list of species most at risk from marine debris.
‘‘One of the recent findings we have, as we’ve completed the coastal surveys, is that we estimate there are more than six pieces of rubbish on our beaches for every single person in Australia,’’ project leader and CSIRO research scientist Denise Hardesty said.
‘‘ Three quarters of what we find is plastic.’’