Wide Bay and the Fraser Coast regions are endowed with majestic whales and turtles, stunning beaches and a beautiful array of marine birds, all of which are threatened by discarded plastics and fishing line.
Below the water line, Litter Ambassador and Reef Check community engagement manager Jodi Salmond encounters the damaging effects of marine debris caught on the reef. She said there are at least 77 marine species in Australian waters that are directly impacted by litter in the ocean.
“Marine debris can be ingested, or animals and birds can become entangled, leading directly to their death or the loss of circulation to limbs resulting in amputation,” said Ms Salmond. “It is unacceptable that a 70 or 100-year-old turtle could survive a generation in the open ocean only to have its life ended by a plastic bag it mistakes for a jellyfish.”
“Our volunteers see the amount of debris that ends up on our beaches and in our oceans through community clean ups, and reef health surveys, including tiny bits of broken up plastics. It has been documented that small pieces of plastic are being fed to chicks of a variety of bird species and we know that chemicals leached from plastics and other sources are found in the flesh of fish and inside plankton. This bio-accumulation of chemicals and micro-plastics in the food chain will pose threats to animals and humans long into the future and needs to stop.”
The reefs in our region provide habitat for many marine creatures and are a drawcard for fishers, divers and tourists. Popular fishing spots often carry the greatest burden of fishing line and tackle from the ‘ones that got away’ or from being snagged on the reef itself. Ms Salmond is encouraging fishers to do what they can to reduce the amount of line left underwater.
“It is generally not safe to recover line and tackle once the line has snapped, but fishers can reel in as much line as possible when they realise the line is caught,” she said. “There are biodegradable line options available now and although more expensive than ordinary line is safer for the environment and worthy of consideration.”
Likewise, when fishing off the beach or rocks try to recover as much tackle as possible and never litter or bury bait bags. The tangler bins located at boat ramps throughout the region are a great initiative and make it easy to dispose of tangled line at the end of a fishing trip.
Ms Salmond said items such as plastic straws, coffee cups and other drink containers left behind by beach goers continue to degrade our beaches. She suggests we all take up the challenge to choose not to take a straw when we buy a drink and to choose glass bottles or aluminium cans instead of plastic bottle.
“An even better choice is the take your own coffee cup or drink bottle,” she said. “Many people think that take-away coffee cups are biodegradable but this isn’t the case.”
If you see household, garden or industrial waste being dumped in the bush, or rubbish being dropped or thrown from a vehicle or boat, you can report the incident to Fraser Coast Regional Council.
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.