While some scour the beach for booty from the YM Efficiency the rest of us are focused on the clean up at Jimmys Beach, Rocky Point, Fingal Head and Shoal Bay

Keith Green.
Keith Green.

I was at Boat Harbour on Saturday morning for the Coastal Habitat Awareness Program cleanup that OCCI (Ocean and Coastal Care Initiatives) conducts once a year, organised well before the YM Efficiency lost more than 80 shipping containers in rough seas.

Despite the unpleasant conditions we found a surprising amount of rubbish, of the kind we had prepared for. One thing that was seen over and over was the micro plastic being deposited on the beach with every wave. I do apologise for pointing this out to our hardy participants, as now every beach walk is spoiled by seeing this micro plastic rubbish. The collected rubbish was then inspected, sorted and then recorded on the Tangaroa Blue data base.

This year we had somewhat of an audience, only they weren’t there to watch us, they were hopeful for something else. Whilst at the beach and the car park I was asked by many people if anything of value had washed ashore.

One man spoke of children's toys and had come over from Raymond Terrace hoping to find treasure of sorts. And on all accounts there were many more interested in finding something precious to take home.

But the real hero's of this story are those who see all the washed up items as pollution. From the time it started to arrive on the beaches Port Stephens residents have been concerned about our coast line and beaches. Some took action and started collecting what had washed up.

Sunday arrived with more being washed up and a big effort was made on the most affected beaches. I believe a big thank you should be made, in a public announcement, to all who braved the elements and collected all the stuff they could.

Monday’s news is that our government has started reacting and things sound like we are getting action. Yet-to-be-named contractors have been tasked by the shipping company’s insurer to carry out the cleanup. Estimates are three or more months. That's a big mess. Will they be able to get it all? What about our wild life?

We may never be rid of all these things deposited on our shore line. One thing is for sure, there are many willing to go out and remove it and keep out little paradise as unspoiled as possible.

And on cleanups, this Saturday, June 9, there will be a cleanup along Marsh Road starting at 10am. Register at the Salt Ash end. This is to clean up the mangroves so wear gum boots.