Our reliance on plastics presents a huge cost for our waterways.
Plastics are choking and strangulating the bowels of fish, whales and birds and creating impenetrable mats that prevent animals from making their homes and feeding. They also leach chemical substances into the environment with unknown consequences for people, animals and plants.
Microplastics , in particular, are becoming so abundant that they’re making their way into our food chain. These items include the small pellets used to make plastic items, fragments from big plastic items that have broken down, microscopic plastic beads used in cosmetic products and clothing fibres churned from our washing machines. All of these items are small enough for fish and seafood to eat, ultimately ending up on our plates.
The Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways Partners is fortunate to have the most proactive national marine debris organisation as a partner. Based in Port Douglas, Tangaroa Blue drives education on the reduction of waste, undertakes research, sponsors and initiates clean-ups and oversees the Australian Marine Debris Initiative.
AMDI records how much debris is collected and removed from seas, beaches, waterways and adjacent lands. In the year 2015-2016, 20 community beach clean-ups were recorded in the Wet Tropics with hundreds local people involved in collecting and sorting through 2.62 tonnes of garbage, including 35,067 items of plastic.