An estimated 140kgs of rubbish was removed from Spring Creek, Torquay over the weekend thanks to a team of 42 volunteers.
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.
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
- Bags (plastic)
- Food wrappers/ containers
- Beverage bottles (plastic)
- Cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons (plastic)
- Beverage bottles (glass)
- Beverage cans
- Straws, stirrers (plastic)
- 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.
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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)