Commercial and recreational fishers see the impact of litter every time they are out on the water. From ghost nets to plastic bags, Anne Whalley has seen the damage caused to the marine environment as a result of rubbish being thrown overboard or entering the ocean through stormwater drains.
“Entanglement and unnecessary death of marine life is often seen as a result of litter that has not been disposed of properly,” said Litter Ambassador, Mrs Whalley. “I have been involved in the seafood industry for 50 years and litter is certainly becoming increasingly obvious at sea. Once litter enters the ocean it just keeps moving and is very difficult to get rid of.”
Mrs Whalley said many regulations have been introduced to reduce the impact of commercial operations. “Commercial vessels are required to have toilets on board, use special booms for refuelling, use non-toxic antifouling paints, carry absorption pads on board to clean oil spills and to keep rubbish on-board until returning to port,” she said. “All of these things help reinforce the importance of disposing of rubbish properly.”
Buoys, lines, coolite and nets are the most common waste items from boats, which can entangle or choke animals, degrade marine habitats and wash up on beaches. Mrs Whalley said fishers were responsible for retrieving nets and the like from the sea as they also posed a danger to other vessels.
“The tangler bins located at jetties and boat ramps around the region are a great initiative that encourages fishers to dispose of any tangled lines rather than throwing them overboard or leaving them on the rocks or beaches. Another good idea is to use steel sinkers that will eventually rust away if they are lost, rather than lead,” she said. “Another industry-supported initiative is the recycling of coolite packaging sent to the Sydney Fish Market.”
While many recreational fishers are doing the right thing, Mrs Whalley said that broken bottles, cans, bait bags and line are still very evident at popular fishing spots around the Bundaberg region. “We all need to be doing our bit to keep our oceans clean and our marine wildlife safe,” she said. “It really is as simple as ‘leaving nothing but footprints’ and remembering to plan ahead to make sure you Bin It!”
The Taking the Lead on Litter! Project is supported by the Queensland Government’s Litter and Illegal Dumping Community and Industry Partnerships Program.
For more information about the BMRG’s Taking the Lead on Litter project, please contact Jacinta Jowett, Project Coordinator on (07) 4181 2999.