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. Read more →
Hundreds of volunteers regularly dedicate their time and energy into helping protect, preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Great Ocean Road’s flora and fauna every month, including members from the Surfrider Foundation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Top 10 marine debris items
Cigarettes/ cigarette filters
Food wrappers/ containers
Beverage bottles (plastic)
Cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons (plastic)
Beverage bottles (glass)
Straws, stirrers (plastic)
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.
An excursion to the beach provided an exciting new classroom for Jan Juc Preschool kids recently.
The students spent three sessions at their local beach learning about the importance of the coastal environment as part of ‘Beach Kinder’ – a free educational program. The eager little participants learnt about local plants and animals and the danger beach litter poses to the environment and the animals that live in it.
GORCC conservation worker Pete Crowcroft believes that it is necessary to educate young children about their local surroundings and how to preserve it.
“It is a very beneficial program as it helps them to think about the environment and what belongs at the beach and what doesn’t while having fun,” Mr Crowcroft said.
The kinder kids participated in a beach treasure hunt with some exciting finds including shark eggs, sea stars and a bottle nose dolphin spine, examined fossils in the cliff face and learnt about the endangered Hooded Plovers.
Jan Juc Preschool teacher Jane Wilson said she hopes the activity will become an annual event.
“The Jan Juc Preschool has a philosophy of supporting children with their education of the local environment and to support children to appreciate and learn to care about their local areas and this program fitted in perfectly to this philosophy.
“The beach is an integral part of living [in Jan Juc] and the discussions are ongoing. The excursion brings together the ongoing discussion we have over the year.
“Interesting stories about the various uses for kelp in ice cream, toothpaste and Vegemite is something the children will remember for a long time,” she said.
For more information about GORCC’s educational programs and how to get involved, click here.