Opinion: Keep Port’s marine habitat free from litter

TAngler Bins at Port Stephens OCCI booth.
TAngler Bins at Port Stephens OCCI booth.

The focus for 2018 Keep Australia Beautiful Week – marine litter – is an issue we at Ocean Coastal Care Initiative Port Stephens are passionate about.

OCCI PS is one of three arms operating in the marine coastal environment in NSW. The other arms are located in Lake Macquarie/Newcastle and the Central Coast.

Our aims are to encourage conservation and knowledge about the marine environment in general and in particular the foreshores and estuaries as they are the safe habitat and breeding area for the majority of marine creatures.

For example, we like to remind people that our sea grass is critical for fish stocks and that swans do not impact the sea grass - but speed boats running to close to shore certainly do.

OCCI PS has been running for 10 years and in this time we have taught nine Coastal Habitat Awareness Program courses for adults and keen teenagers, conducted dozens of primary school learning days usually focused on our wonderful rockpools.

We also support various conservation groups and local business by having displays and interactive rockpool demonstrations and learning sessions.

OCCI has provided opportunities to many children and adults to discover the wonder world of the rock pools – they have lots of interesting creatures including sea stars of all colours and sizes.

Additionally and OCCI PS and Port Stephens Council also provide TAngler Bins to encourage our local fisherpersons to put left over fishing line and bait bags in the bins located near our popular fishing spots.

OCCI PS is very committed to habitat protection and regularly conducts major cleanups at various locations in the Port Stephens area, including working with the CHUG group and scuba diving along the break wall at Nelson Bay collecting far too much rubbish every time – this is a hot spot for fishing line plastic bags food containers and water bottles. Our rock wall cleanups collect two trailer loads of rubbish twice a year.

The good news is that our beaches are mostly very clean and the water in Port Stephens is clear and unpolluted.

OCCI PS is a volunteer organisation. Monthly meetings are held on the third Wednesday at Nelson Bay Bowling Club.

Keep Australia Beautiful Week runs August 20-26. The key theme for the week is SOS - Save Our Seas.

- Roger Reeder is the secretary of OCCI PS