26 March 2021

Stop it at the source: volunteers urged to log marine mess

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Alex King, Emma Patyus, Marian Matti, Stephanie Foster, Helen Ransom and Lyn Bain with debris from Shelly Beach.

From left: Alex King, Emma Patyus, Marian Matti, Stephanie Foster, Helen Ransom and Lyn Bain were among the locals who took to Shelly Beach on Wednesday, 24 March, to clean up marine debris after the heavy rain. Photo: Supplied.

Everything from dog toys to a gas bottle and car tyre have washed up on NSW South Coast beaches in the wake of last week’s wild weather.

More than 45kg of marine debris was removed from Moruya’s Shelly Beach alone on the morning of Wednesday, 24 March, after heavy rains washed rubbish into local waterways.

Members of the Eurobodalla Marine Debris Working Group and Landcare, as well as residents of South Head, picked up the haul and recorded it on the Australian Marine Debris Database.

Other items included thongs, food wrappers and containers, and aluminium cans.

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Eurobodalla Shire Council’s environmental education officer, Bernadette Davis, said litter on streets and roadsides was swept into local waterways in heavy rain, and washed up on local beaches and in mangrove areas.

“Shelly Beach, in particular, is a good indicator of the rubbish coming from the Moruya CBD,” she said.

“It was great to see very few plastic drink bottles and zero plastic bags in the haul, however we did find large amounts of old polystyrene packaging so it was great to get it out of our waterways.”

Now that the sun is out, Ms Davis is urging the local legends out on beaches picking up marine debris to log it on the national database.

READ ALSO South Coast residents stranded as Deua and Moruya rivers flood

“If you record the debris, council and all levels of government, researchers and educators can use that data to help stop litter at its source,” she said.

“Give the handy Tangaroa Blue marine debris app a try – you’ll find it in your app store.”

A large amount of debris as a result of the bushfires – including timber, ash and logs – is also washing down rivers and waterways, and often onto beaches, which is particularly evident at Shelly Beach.

Council’s environment services manager, Deb Lenson, said it is likely to continue with large rain events.

“The approach is to let nature take its course with natural debris unless there is a public safety risk,” she said.

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