Broome kicks buts with new approach to marine debris

[Jan-Feb 2017]

A litter and pollution source reduction workshop was held in Broome late last year, encouraging the community to tackle litter release at its source. 

The free workshop was run in Broome, by Heidi Taylor of Tangaroa Blue, a charity that she formed in 2004. It aims to prevent litter entering Australia’s oceans and landfills by targeting the source, reducing the supply of disposable plastics and encouraging people to practice responsible consumption.

The workshop was supported by the Roebuck Bay Working Group (RBWG) and Rangelands NRM through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, as well as the State NRM through Royalties for Regions and Tangaroa Blue. 

RBWG Program Manager Kandy Curran said the productive tidal waters surrounding the townsite of Broome is increasingly polluted by a never ending stream of litter.

“So, the Roebuck Bay Working Group decided to enlist Heidi Taylor to help coastal managers and volunteers stem the rising tide of marine debris,” Ms Curran said. 

The workshop was attended by Broome Shire, Yawuru Ranger groups, school teachers, Environs Kimberley, Roebuck Bay Working Group, Broome Community Seagrass Monitoring Project, Rangelands NRM and Society of Indigenous Plants and Animals.

“It’s aim was to put in place Source Reduction Plans for future clean-up projects in Broome to provide consistent data on the types and amounts of marine debris and help track down the sources of debris,” Ms Curran said.

“The next step will be to work with all stakeholders to find solutions that will stop the source of marine debris in its tracks.”

The take up of Source Reduction Plans across Australia is impressive, with 62,000 volunteers from 1,900 coastal river locations around Australia removing 6.7 million items. 

According to Heidi Taylor, however, a total of 77 Australian wildlife species are affected by entanglement and ingestion of marine debris, causing deformities, loss of limbs, internal injuries, blockages and death through starvation, as well as suffocation and strangulation.

Ms Curran said the top item in litter collections in Roebuck Bay is glass and ceramics; whereas, on Cable Beach it is cigarette butts and filters. 

“Overall, however, it’s plastics that come out on top of the litter pile by a long way,” she said. 

There is some positive action from the State Government, who will introduce a Container Deposit Scheme (10 cents back on drink containers) to WA in mid-2018. There is the Responsible Cafes program that allows customers to sign up for a discount on their takeaway coffee, if they bring their own reusable coffee cup, thereby reducing single use coffee cups and lids being used and littered.

Visit the RBWG website to find out more you can do to help reduce marine debris entering Broome’s coastal waters.

Images; (L) Heidi Taylor from Tangaroa Blue (R) Workshop participants (Kandy Curran)