A SURG member checking a discarded mudcrab trap that was left to snare threatened and protected fish species.
A SURG member checking a discarded mudcrab trap that was left to snare threatened and protected fish species. Ian Shaw

Coffs Coast litter levels reach new low

COFFS Coast estuaries are choking with litter entering from rivers near residential areas according to a research group.

The Solitary Island Underwater Research Group (SURG) estimated 15 tonnes of litter accumulates along Coffs Creek, east of the Pacific Hwy each year.

"I was stunned when we returned to the same locations along Coffs Creek where litter was removed during the 2016 Clean-up Australia Day activity to remove approximately the same amount of litter in 2017,” SURG project officer and Southern Cross University researcher Dr Steven Dalton said.

Over the past two years the group has cleaned up more than 10,000 pieces of litter from six areas along Coffs Creek.

The group was also concerned with how high levels of waste occurred in areas near stormwater discharge points which had gross pollutant traps installed.

SURG said the traps appeared to become blocked with litter and organic matter during storms. This lead to plastic containers, bottles and bags passing through the tops of the traps and ending up in mangroves.

An estuary cod trapped in an abandoned crab trap.
An estuary cod trapped in an abandoned crab trap. Ian Shaw

Dr Dalton said the group had also found an increasing number of discarded crab traps in creeks.

He said the traps were "ghost fishing and catching threatened and protected species” such as estuary cod and Queensland grouper.

"We have removed over 50 abandoned traps from Coffs Creek, Boambee Creek and Corindi River, and have found several estuary cod, Queensland grouper and turtles trapped in these enclosures,” he said.

In a recent survey, SURG found 15 discarded traps along a 400m stretch of the Corindi River.

SURG participants collected over 30 clean-up Australia Day bags of rubbish along Coffs Creek.
SURG participants collected over 30 clean-up Australia Day bags of rubbish along Coffs Creek. Ian Shaw

Next month SURG will be involved in the NSW assessment of the impact of the soon to be implemented Container Deposit Scheme in coastal environments, by removing plastic containers and other litter along Coffs Creek. The clean-up will be held on September 17 at the Edgar St boat ramp starting at 8.30am.

For more, visit www.surg.org.au.



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