Australian Marine Debris Initiative documents litter collected in Port Stephens and around the nation

More than 10 million pieces of plastic have been collected around Australia as part of a litter audited that has included Port Stephens and the Hunter. 

Tangaroa Blue Foundation this week reported the work of 100,000 volunteers, since 2004, as documented in the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Database. 

In Port Stephens alone there’s been 3037 bits of plastic collected since 2016, along with 2404 metres of recreational fishing line. Although initiatives like the TAngler bins under Ocean & Coastal Care Initiatives (OCCI) Port Stephens did prevent 2000 m from entering the water in 2014.

Hunter Local Land Services has helped coordinate recent cleanups in line with AMDI requirements. 

“Any clean up we do adds to the body of evidence so we can work on strategies to prevent rubbish entering our waterways,” Hunter LLS estuary and marine officer Brian Hughes said.

“When you think that someone’s counted all these bits of plastic, that’s a lot.”

Roughly a third of all rubbish collected by volunteers in Port Stephens has been plucked from the water.

“By understanding where this rubbish is coming from we can work to stop it at the source before it enters the environment,” Mr Hughes said.

“The removal and prevention of marine debris remains one of the major environmental issues worldwide, and together, we are making significant headway.”  

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Tangaroa Blue has worked with an on-ground network of volunteers, communities, organisations and partners in Australia’s coastal environment.

“We are incredibly proud of the community members, community groups, government partners, Indigenous ranger teams, school students and industry groups that have contributed tracking down the source of a lot of our 10 million items of garbage,” Tangaroa Blue managing director Heidi Taylor said.

“In just 14 years the Australian Marine Debris Initiative has grown from a group of 30 volunteers in the south-west of Western Australia, to more than 100,000 volunteers and partners nationwide.

“Through volunteers recording details and the location of each of the 10 million items since 2004, we’re a lot closer to stopping the flow of litter in Australian waterways at the source.”