Community effort to clean up coast

Teams of dedicated locals help start the New Year the right way with their annual beach clean-up post New Year’s Eve festivities.

The Torquay Lions Club and LorneCare environmental group have spent the first day of the year for the past 10 years removing litter and debris on the foreshore areas in Torquay and Lorne after late night celebrations. Read more

Action Day helps ‘Seal the Loop’

Torquay College students joined in on the annual Seal the Loop Action Day – a day aimed to help untangle the threats to marine wildlife and raise awareness about the impact marine debris. Read more

Bad behaviour harming coast

Illegal behaviour on coastal reserves such as lighting fires, littering and destroying vegetation is impacting the environment and sparking safety concerns, with the Jan Juc clifftops a particular problem zone. Read more

Fishing waste threat to coast and pets

An increase in fishing waste left illegally on Surf Coast beaches is impacting the environment and the community with one report of a dog swallowing a hook at Anglesea this week.

GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald and GORCC Education Coordinator Pete Crowcroft with a Seal the Loop bin in Torquay.
GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald and GORCC Education Coordinator Pete Crowcroft with a Seal the Loop bin in Torquay.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) has noted an increase in hooks, plastic bags, fishing line and other fishing-related waste, particularly in Jan Juc and Anglesea.

GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald said fishing waste not only impacts the coastal environment and marine animals, it is also harmful to beach users and animals.

“This major source of pollution remains on the beach until it is washed directly into the ocean.

“It is disappointing that a small number of individuals don’t respect the very environment they are drawing resources from,” she said.Marine debris image ocean health index

A visual representation of the quantity of marine debris in our precious waterways.  Image: oceanconservancy.org
A visual representation of the quantity of marine debris in our precious waterways.
Image: oceanconservancy.org

Ms. MacDonald said that dogs could be drawn to hooks left on the beach, particularly when hooks were surrounded by discarded bait remains such as sardine heads and bones.

“We have one report of a dog swallowing a hook at the Anglesea Main Beach and another report of a near miss,” she said.

While the dog affected by the hook has been given the all clear, the incident serves as a timely reminder for all beach users to discard of waste properly.

“Dispose your rubbish properly and care for the environment you came to enjoy.

“GORCC urges all anglers and fisherman to take responsibility for their fishing waste and consider the safety of humans, pets, sea creatures and the protection of our coastal environment in general,” said Ms.MacDonald.

GORCC has installed Melbourne Zoo’s specially designed ‘Seal the Loop’ bins at multiple fishing locations along the coast.

Seal the Loop bins have been placed in popular fishing areas all along the Victorian coastline.  Image: Zoos Victoria
Seal the Loop bins have been placed in popular fishing areas all along the Victorian coastline.
Image: Zoos Victoria

“The bins, which are made of recycled plastic waste, make it easy to dispose of fishing waste in a way that ensures it will never harm wildlife or beach users,” said Ms. MacDonald.

GORCC currently has Seal the Loop bins at Torquay Main Beach, Torquay Point, near the Anglesea River, on the Lorne Pier and along the Lorne Foreshore.

GORCC has recently applied for two additional Seal the Loop bins to be installed at the Jan Juc Surf Club car park and the Moggs Creek boardwalk.

Keen fishermen and anglers wanting to make even more of a difference can take responsibility for their rubbish and take it home to be disposed properly off-site.

More information can be found on the Seal the Loop website.

Education is key

Education is the most important tool when it comes to fighting the ongoing battle with litter.

With more than 270,000 tonnes of rubbish polluting the oceans and more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, it is no wonder rubbish is a lethal threat to marine animals.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) conservation staff along with dedicated volunteer groups continually remove litter from our coastal areas throughout the year with increased efforts over the busy holiday period.

A huge proportion of mis-handled waste ends up back in the ocean where it harms marine life.
A huge proportion of mis-handled waste ends up back in the ocean where it harms marine life.

GORCC conservation supervisor Georgie Beale is disappointed at the amount of litter in our oceans and believes that education is vital in reducing its presence in our coastal environments.

“Education is the key to overcoming the battle with litter. Getting kids to change their behaviour and bin their rubbish will make a huge difference to the environment.

“We have incorporated marine debris into our educational programs to inform people about how important it is to keep our beaches clean,” Ms Beale said.

“We teach groups about the Take 3 for the Sea campaign which is a simple idea that encourages everyone to take three extra pieces of rubbish with them as they leave the beach.

“Our biggest challenge is reaching those who don’t care and don’t understand their impact on our unique marine wildlife which is why educating young children is so important,” Ms Beale explains.

The amount of litter in the oceans is constantly increasing. Much of it degrades very slowly. Plastic bottles and nylon fishing line are particularly durable. Although many plastics break down into smaller fragments, it will take decades or even centuries (estimated timescales) for them to disappear completely. Source: Maribus (World Ocean Review)
The amount of litter in the oceans is constantly increasing. Much of it degrades very slowly. Plastic bottles and nylon fishing line are particularly durable. Although many plastics break down into smaller fragments, it will take decades or even centuries (estimated timescales) for them to disappear completely. Source: Maribus (World Ocean Review)

Top 10 marine debris items

  1. Cigarettes/ cigarette filters
  2. Bags (plastic)
  3. Food wrappers/ containers
  4. Caps/lids
  5. Beverage bottles (plastic)
  6. Cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons (plastic)
  7. Beverage bottles (glass)
  8. Beverage cans
  9. Straws, stirrers (plastic)
  10. Bags (paper)

Local Surfrider Foundation Surf Coast volunteer John Foss said the educational programs that are offered in schools and through GORCC are making a huge difference in teaching the next generation about the hazards of litter.

“What we need is for people to stop treating our coast as an ashtray.

“Unfortunately it is often the visitors that cause the most damage to the coast as they have not received the education locals have about caring for our environment.

“We need a national anti-litter campaign that targets young people and beachgoers in a multilingual format to get the message across,” said Mr Foss.

Although we cannot eliminate the world’s marine litter, we can make a difference along our precious beaches by encouraging others to keep the beaches clean.

Click here to find out more about volunteering along the surf coast.

How do you look after our coast? Comment below.

Related blogs:

Jan Juc kids listening as GORCC Conservation Worker Pete Crowcroft talks about beach litterBeach Kinder a hit with kids
A huge proportion of mis-handled waste ends up back in the ocean where it harms marine life.Australia’s dirtiest beaches exposed
Surfcoast Shire's Cr David Bell together with GORCC's Georgie Beale encouraging beachgoers to take 3 pieces of rubbish when they leave the coast this summer.Take 3 to keep coast healthy