12 September 2023

"If all you ever do is clean, that's all you'll ever do": Tangaroa Blue on a mission to keep the five beaches loop debris-free

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Photo shows a beachfront littered with marine debris.

1.5 to 2 tonnes of marine debris is collected at the five beaches.

The annual Five Beaches Loop clean-up camp is fast approaching and will be the last organised Cape York beach clean event for 2023.

Over the course of five days, Tangaroa Blue Foundation and volunteers will take on one beach a day to clean up marine debris, as well as sort and record data on the rubbish collected.

Project coordinator Ebony Bail said they were expecting to collect between 1.5 to 2 tonnes of rubbish this year.

“We get a lot of plastic, a lot of rubber, a lot of commercial fishing gear … anything that floats washes in from ocean currents and winds,” she said.

For almost 10 years, the Five Beaches Loop clean-up team has recorded the rubbish collected into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) database.

Ms Bail said that the data collection process was vital in tracking debris to the source and creating a “source reduction plan” with stakeholders, which aims to reduce the debris from entering the environment in the first place.

“Our company model is ‘if all you ever do is clean, that’s all you’ll ever do’,” she said.

She said that Tangaroa Blue also records data on debris with identifying markers, company names, barcodes and shipment numbers that could point to a problematic source.

After building a solid database, actions can be taken to reduce the debris entering the ocean system.

“Our database is open-access, and anyone is able to use the ADMI app to collect data on marine debris themselves. It could be used for research projects and it could be used if people wanted to apply for funding to tackle the issue,” she said.

Tangaroa Blue is still looking for more volunteers to join the camp, which will run from September 23 to 27.

For more information, go to the Tangaroa Blue website (www.tangaroablue.org) or email Ebony Bail at [email protected].

Pictured are five rangers on a dirt road holding a commercial fishing net.

More volunteers are needed to help the beachfronts clean.

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