Rubbish to ruin reef
WHILE our turtles are a major draw-card for the region, Jodi Salmond fears the reef, and the marine life it houses, may be compromised if littering continues.
Litter Ambassador and Reef Check community engagement manager Jodi Salmond said the major threats are discarded plastics and fishing line.
She said there were at least 77 marine species in Australian waters that were directly impacted by litter in the ocean.
"Marine debris can be ingested, or animals and birds can become entangled, leading directly to their death or the loss of circulation to limbs resulting in amputation,” said Ms Salmond.
"It is unacceptable that a 70 or 100-year-old turtle could survive a generation in the open ocean only to have its life ended by a plastic bag it mistakes for a jellyfish.
"Our volunteers see the amount of debris that ends up on our beaches and in our oceans through community clean ups, and reef health surveys, including tiny bits of broken up plastics.
"This bio-accumulation of chemicals and micro-plastics in the food chain will pose threats to animals and humans long into the future and needs to stop.”
Ms Salmond believes popular fishing spots carry the greatest burden of fishing line and tackle from the 'ones that got away' or from being snagged on the reef itself.
"It is generally not safe to recover line and tackle once the line has snapped, but fishers can reel in as much line as possible when they realise the line is caught,” she said.
"There are biodegradable line options available now and although more expensive than ordinary line is safer for the environment and worthy of consideration.”
Ms Salmond said when fishing off the beach or rocks try to recover as much tackle as possible and never litter or bury bait bags.
Rather than throwing tangled line overboard or on the rocks, tangler bins at boat ramps across the region make it easy to dispose of at the end of a fishing trip.
Ms Salmond is also urging everyone not use straws and to choose glass bottles or aluminium cans instead of plastic bottle as plastic straws, coffee cups and other drink containers also degrade our beaches.
For details on Taking the Lead on Litter project, call Jacinta Jowett 4181 2999.