Litter is an increasing problem for local land managers as the population and tourist numbers continue to grow along the Great Ocean Road coastline.
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee has partnered with Zoos Victoria and Tangaroa Blue to help collect and record rubbish data into the Australian Marine Debris Database for the national study.
Great Ocean Road Coast Coastal Reserves Manager Caleb Hurrell said visitor numbers are constantly increasing and has described more events and good weather as the key contributors.
“The Torquay and Lorne Foreshore Caravan Parks have been consistently at capacity since Christmas with more holiday makers making use of the good weather and long weekends.
“The large influx in tourists to the coastline has been fantastic for local businesses and townships, however have contributed to the higher levels of rubbish seen on our foreshores,” he said.
“Our Coastal Reserves and Conservation teams collect between 10 and 12 full garbage bags of litter each week during the busy summer season.
“Despite regular bin collections throughout the year, there is still significant amounts of rubbish including lolly wrappers and coffee cups that have been thoughtlessly discarded on our coast,” Mr Hurrell said.
The Australian Marine Debris Database lists cigarette butts and filters as the most common item found, followed by plastic bits and plastic bags.
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Environment and Education Manager Katie Dolling said it was alarming how much rubbish is still ending up on our beaches.
“Since partnering with Zoos Victoria, our education programs have been taking a closer look into the types and quantity of rubbish at each site which highlights how seemingly small objects can have a massive environmental impact once piled up together,” she said.
In a 15-minute period, Geelong Lutheran College Coast Guardian students collected more than 120 items of rubbish including fragments of glass, plastic bottles and metal bottle caps.
“Whilst we are working closely with local schools, campers and community groups to help reduce marine litter and dependence on single-use plastics, we still need community support to eliminate rubbish on our coast.
“Education is an important element in tackling behaviour change and initiatives like ‘Take 3 for the Sea’ and ‘Plastic-Bag Free Torquay’ are great steps to reducing our impact on the coast,” she said.
To find out how you can get involved, or for more information about volunteering on the coast, visit www.gorcc.com.au.