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

A Day to focus on our fish

Every year on November 21 fishing communities and environmentalist groups across the globe celebrate World Fisheries Day and the importance of maintaining marine wildlife.

The United Nations found in a recent study that more than two-thirds of the world’s fisheries have been overfished or are fully harvested and more than one third are in a state of decline due to factors including the loss of essential fish habitats, pollution, and global warming.

Although there are so many fishing spots along the surf coast, many locations around the world have lost this luxury.
Although there are so many fishing spots along the surf coast, many locations around the world have lost this luxury.

The day highlights the importance of fish in water health, and the lives they sustain in and out of the water through rallies, workshops, public meetings, cultural programs, exhibitions, music shows, and demonstrations.

Without the continual regeneration of fish, the diets of millions of people around the world will be negatively affected and a huge proportion of traditional societies who are reliant on the occupation of fishing will also be impacted.

With the majority of cities placed closely to water bodies, severe ocean and coastal pollution has become an ever-increasing problem with the depletion of fish resulting in a crisis.

Unsustainable fishing methods linked to mechanisation has been a huge factor in the issue.

The World Fisheries Day helps to highlight these problems, and moves towards finding solutions to the increasingly inter-connected problems we are facing, and in the longer term, to sustainable means of maintaining fish stocks.

With the continual pollution and over-fishing around the surf coast, fish may become very difficult to find.
With the continual pollution and over-fishing around the surf coast, fish may become very difficult to find.

Not sure why this is such a big issue?

• Fisheries and aquaculture employ more than 43 million individuals worldwide.
• More than 25% of the world’s dietary protein is provided by fish.
• The human population consumes over 100 million metric tonnes of fish annually
• Globally, annual fisheries exports are valued at 85 to 90 billion dollars.
• Escalating amounts of pollution continue to threaten water quality and fish habitat
• All natural fish stocks today contain at least some mercury

Spring Creek is one of many popular fishing spots along the Surf Coast.
Spring Creek is one of many popular fishing locations along the Surf Coast.

To find out more about the Day and how you can make a difference, visit the event’s Facebook page here.