Ter­ri­tory’s grub­bi­est beach cops mother­load of marine rub­bish

Sunday Territorian - - NEWS -

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.’’

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