Two Pilbara workshops were held in March to tackle litter and debris at its sources, before it ends up on beaches and in the ocean.
Rangelands NRM, in partnership with Tangaroa Blue, invited community members and representatives from local business, industry and government to attend workshops in Port Hedland on 9 March and Karratha on 10 March, to learn how to develop Source Reduction Plans (SRPs) to reduce marine pollution.
Keeping marine environments clean helps to protect marine species from the effects of debris through ingestion, entanglement and habitat destruction.
It is important for human health – for the purity of seafood and cleanliness of recreation areas.
Marine debris can also cause hazards to shipping and fishing.
The 14 participants at the Port Hedland workshop examined data from the 2012–2014 annual Western Australia (WA) Beach Clean Up events about common debris types.
Alison Dorn from Tangaroa Blue said beaches around Port Hedland that have been monitored to date are Cemetery Beach, Titchella, Pretty Pool, 6 Mile Beach and Cooke Point.
“The data collected by clean up volunteers shows the main sources of marine debris for Port Hedland to be beach litter (45%), garbage washed ashore (31%), plastic remnants (16%), recreational fishing (3%), commercial fishing (3%) and shipping (2%.). Overall, the main source was land based rubbish,” Ms Dorn said.
Ms Dorn said Tangaroa Blue has adopted the catch phrase ‘If all we ever do is clean up, that is all we’ll ever do’ to communicate the importance of reducing marine debris at its source.
“Now that communities know how to create a SRP, which was the aim of the workshops, they have the framework to address litter and marine debris sources. They are developing a lasting solution, not just collecting rubbish,” she said.
Workshops participants considered how to make changes in their local area to target these sources and will implement the SRPs by August 2015.
Success of the SRPs will be monitored through ongoing beach clean-up events.
Ms Dorn said the data collected by clean up volunteers over the past ten years was instrumental in helping communities to make the changes that will have the most impact.
“We encourage the community to help us get more statistics to build on the knowledge in our database,” Ms Dorn said.
“The Annual WA Beach Cleanup in October 2015 is an ideal time to kick off the monitoring for other beaches and the annual WA Beach Clean Up report will enable communities to analyse data collected and measure success of their SRP and modify them where necessary.”
Rangelands NRM and Tangaroa Blue recognise the significant efforts of individuals and communities in Port Hedland and Karratha, Dampier, Point Samson districts to keep their environment clean and prevent marine pollution.
Image: Volunteers cleaning up a beach in Port Hedland, photo courtesy of Alison Dorn, Tangaroa Blue.