Popular beach declared 'dirty'

ONLY last week, Keep Australia Beautiful gave Coffs Coast beaches the thumbs up.

But a week is a long time in aesthetics it seems.

Yesterday, our most popular beach – Park Beach – was declared Coffs Harbour’s dirtiest by Southern Cross University research.

The beach had an average of 80 pieces of rubbish every 50 metres, according to a Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority research project into marine debris on the North Coast region.

Associate Professor Steve Smith, who led the project from Coffs Harbour’s National Marine Science Centre, said students recently surveyed Park Beach, Jetty Beach and Diggers Beach following a 2007 survey.

“In the current survey, the northern end of Park Beach was the worst of the three beaches,” Prof. Smith said.

“Adjacent to the stormwater drains we found 225 pieces of rubbish in a single 50-metre stretch, including 103 cigarette butts.

“At the two other beaches we found less than one-quarter of that amount of rubbish.”

Prof. Smith said the work fed directly into the long-term collection of data on marine debris for the region.

“We have just released a draft research report to the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority which quantifies marine debris using the results from these surveys, specific assessments at key beach and reef locations across the Mid North and North Coast region and historical data.

“The key recommendation in the report was the need for a regional-scale review of litter management strategies. All of our coastal councils have litter management strategies but some are more effective than others.”

Prof. Smith said the most common type of marine debris was plastics, particularly broken down pieces of polystyrene, which is commonly used in foam packaging products, bean bag fillers and ‘coolite’ surfboards.

On her visit to Coffs Harbour last week, the Clean Beaches program manager for Keep Australia Beautiful, Rosemary Hadaway, said the Coffs Coast had some beautiful beaches and it was always a difficult task picking winners.

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