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Managing Marine Debris on Eyre Peninsula
20 May 2011
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There is increasing concern about the amount of Rubbish on our oceans and washing up on our beaches.  Rubbish in our coast and marine environment not only looks bad, but is a huge danger to wildlife including marine mammals and sea birds.

The problem with plastic in the environment is that it doesn’t break down, it just breaks into smaller pieces of the same material -  plastic.  Plastics look like food to many marine species and when they eat it, the plastic can physically block their digestive system.

It takes about 450 years for a plastic bottle to break down in the marine environment and 600 years for fishing line, giving these materials an opportunity to injure or kill marine life and sea birds again and again..

Every year, about 100,000 mammals are killed or injured by eating or becoming entangled in rubbish at sea.

Marine Debris is a problem around the word and the Eyre Peninsula community are making a difference locally with support from the Eyre Peninsula NRM Board.

In 2009, school groups, community groups and individuals were invited to take part in monitoring the marine debris washing up on their local beach as part of a region wide survey program.

School groups, community groups and concerned individuals answered the call and are now regularly monitoring marine debris on 18 Eyre Peninsula beaches.  These beaches are spread across the Eyre Peninsula from Whyalla in the east, Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay in the south to Port Kenny and Fowlers Bay in the west.

Volunteers collect and sort rubbish into groups based on their type.  Difference types of debris are then measured and weighted.  Over time, this information will start to paint a picture of the volume, type and possible sources of marine debris washing in at different places across Eyre Peninsula.

Once sources can be identified, we can work with the community to identify ways management practices and behavior can be altered or changed, to reduce the volume of debris entering  our marine environment and washing up on our beaches.

If you, your community group or school would like to be involved in surveying your local beach on Eyre Peninsula, please contact the Eyre Peninsula Natural Resources Management Board Coast and Marine Team on 8682 7555.

Place Story written and narrated by Rachael Kannussaar, Coast and Marine Management Officer, EPNRM Board.

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