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

Beach Kinder a hit with kids

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.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) led the sessions which saw a beach treasure hunt, cliff top walk and more.

 

Jan Juc Preschool kids building sandcastles with items collected in the treasure hunt.
Jan Juc Preschool kids building sandcastles with items collected in the treasure hunt. Photo: Jan Juc Preschool

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.

GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale teaches Jan Juc Preschool about what belongs at the beach.
GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale teaches Jan Juc Preschool about what belongs at the beach. Photo: Jan Jus Preschool

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.

GORCC Conservation Worker Pete Crowcroft holding a dolphin spine as part of beach treasures.
GORCC Conservation Worker Pete Crowcroft holding a dolphin spine as part of beach treasures. Photo: Jan Juc Preschool

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.

Jan Juc kids listening as GORCC Conservation Worker Pete Crowcroft talks about beach litter
Jan Juc kids listening as GORCC Conservation Worker Pete Crowcroft talks about beach litter

For more information about GORCC’s educational programs and how to get involved, click here.

Finding the source of rubbish

Have you ever considered where the piece of plastic blowing on the beach came from? A team of dedicated  reasearch scientists have made it their mission to trace  rubbish and debris on our beaches back to it’s source.

This research is being conducted to better understand the impact of debris on marine eco-systems.

The team of marine scientists led by CSIRO Research Scientist Dr Britta Denise Hardesty are stopping every 100km around the Australian coastline to catalogue rubbish and debris.

Dr Hardesty said debris collected during the surveys will be analysed by looking for barcodes and other identifying markers to determine its origin.

This picture was taken at Rye Beach. Photo courtesy of the CSIRO

“This research will allow us to determine the distribution of marine debris and whether the debris comes from land based sources or washes in from the sea.

Information about the sources of this rubbish and debris will help create a national map of areas where marine wildlife is likely to encounter debris and determine which animals are most at risk of harm.

“Information about the sources of this rubbish and debris will help create a national map of areas where marine wildlife is likely to encounter debris and determine which animals are most at risk of harm,” she said.

Studies by CSIRO and other research organisations have revealed more than 270 species of marine animals are affected by marine debris worldwide.

This YouTube clip demonstrates why it’s important to make sure you dispose of rubbish correctly.

How can you contribute to the surveys?

Dr. Hardesty said community and volunteer groups can help protect the environment by providing information about the rubbish they collect from beaches to the TeachWild National Marine Debris Database Project.

So far the surveys have revealed even beaches in remote areas can have debris, whilst it is more common to find debris on beaches within easy access of populations centres or towns.

What’s happening on the Surf Coast to reduce marine debris?

President of local environmental volunteer group, Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment (SANE) Graeme Stockton said there are lots of volunteering opportunities on the coast for those interested in protecting the environment.

“As a community we need to be proactive and join local groups who are campaigning to protect the environment,” he said.

A group of Torquay residents have initiated ‘Plastic Bag Free Torquay’ a campaign to ban single use plastic bags in the Torquay area.

Stacie Bobele from ‘Plastic Bag Free Torquay’ said Australians use 16 million plastic bags each day.

“A ban on plastic shopping bags is the easiest way to reduce the amount of plastic which goes into our oceans and landfill areas.

“By bringing re- usable bags each time we shop, we are taking a significant step toward a healthier ocean and healthier environment,” she said.

Rubbish and debris at Hawaii’s Kamilo Beach, often regarded as the dirtiest beach in the world. Photo: Tim Silverwood.

Are there any areas on the Surf Coast that you think need cleaning up? Can you suggest any other ways we can reduce the amount of rubbish on our beaches?

Follow these links to find out more:

Read the CSIRO fact sheet on tackling marine debris.

Learn more about the National Marine Debris Database.

Find out more or become involved with Plastic Bag Free Torquay.

Learn more about the work of Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment or get involved.

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times fortnightly Green the Coast Column.

Sending a message

Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the protection and enhancement of Australia’s oceans, waves and beaches for all people through conservation, activism, research and education.

Marine debris is a key Surfrider initiative due to its detrimental impacts on marine and coastal environments, particularly animal and bird life. The foundation’s focus is on empowering individuals and community groups at the local level to proactively remove and reduce the amount of marine debris through local beach cleanups and community education activities.

The initiative engages volunteers, community groups, industry and government agencies, and other environmental organisations in making a positive and sustainable impact on marine debris. Locally-based Surfrider Foundation community groups are responsible for beach clean-ups in their own areas, including along the Surf Coast.

These activities help to protect and conserve our precious marine and coastal environments for future generations, which includes safer habitat for indigenous fauna. There is also a strong emphasis on creating awareness in the community.

The initiative highlights:

  • the importance of data gathering and analysis in helping to address sources of marine debris
  • the value of social responsibility and education, and
  • the need to actively engage with the community to create positive social change.

Story provided by Kristy Theissling, General Manager, Surfrider Foundation (Australia)