Ocean Crusaders and Healthy Land and Water are working together to tackle the build-up of debris and litter threatening water quality and marine life across Moreton Bay.
Over the next five years, some 150 hectares of the Bay will be cleared of marine debris as part of a large-scale debris removal program. Earlier this year, Healthy Land and Water worked with partners to clean up debris from 71 hectares of marine landscapes at Luggage Point, St Helena Island, and other Moreton Bay Islands.
This included the removal of approximately 500 truck tyres used to reinforce the banks of St Helena Island that have broken free and now instead of protecting the island, are contaminating it.
The level of rubbish build-up occurs from many sources including pollution transported from upstream, through the mouth of the Brisbane River.
Everything from drink containers and polystyrene packaging to shopping trolleys can flow into the internationally recognised Moreton Bay Ramsar Wetland site and end up collecting in various locations, including at St Helena Island.
Marine debris has many long-term impacts including upon populations of turtles, dugongs, shorebirds, and other marine animals which often results in fatalities.
This pollution is also impacting ecosystems and cultural values. This includes impacts on mangroves which improve water quality by filtering pollutants, stabilising and improving the soil, and protecting shorelines from erosion. Mangroves are also important habitats for several threatened species.
The marine environment also contains significant cultural values such as middens and shell scatters which are present day connections that demonstrate the thousands of years that Aboriginal people have visited St Helena Island to undertake a wide range of cultural and land management practices.
St Helena Island is a heritage listed island located on the traditional lands of the Quandamooka People. Its surrounding wetlands are also a haven for migratory wading shorebirds.
Healthy Land and Water is supporting Ocean Crusaders to remove this marine debris through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
Small teams go out regularly targeting the most problematic and accessible areas.
One such team went out recently, managing to remove approximately three tonnes of plastic and mixed waste and 52 tyres from St Helena island.
On this particular day, the Oceans Crusaders team was Energex has a novel volunteer program where employees are given two days a year to volunteer. The team was joined by Healthy Land and Water’s Senior Scientist Engineer Samille Loch-Wilkinson, who is proud to be a project manager involved in this initiative.
“I love getting out with the Ocean Crusaders clean up team, hands dirty and seeing the true scale of the marine debris problem in Moreton Bay,” she says.
“What makes it even more rewarding is knowing that once the tyres are collected, they are recycled into bitumen instead of going into landfill”.
For more information about this project, please contact Samille Loch-Wilkinson at Samille.firstname.lastname@example.org
This project is supported by Healthy Land and Water, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare program.