So far we have completed three, three hour beach clean-ups and the amount of rubbish collected has both amazed and disappointed us. From steel scaffolding, plastic paint, oil drums and respirators found amongst the rock foundations on the south end of the causeway to seven full sacks of plastic bottles, plastic strapping, supermarket bags, old fishing nets, rope and plastic wrapping found along the south east and west shorelines.
Our clean-up around Awarua Bay inspired Millie to present ‘Plastic Rubbish in our Oceans’ as a speech topic for school and her research uncovered some disturbing facts:
- An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic rubbish ends up in the world’s oceans every year
- The most commonly found are plastic bottles, bottle tops, plastic bags, fishing nets and styrofoam cups
- Plastic isn’t biodegradable and instead is worn down by the sun and ocean currents into smaller and smaller plastic beads
- It is estimated that 100 million marine animals are killed each year though ingestion of these beads and plastic bags (being mistaken for jelly fish) or through drowning after being caught in discarded nets or plastic strapping
- The floating plastic beads affect the entire ocean food chain - from restricting light reaching plankton, fish stocks being found with high levels of chemical toxins right through to whales perishing from starvation
- Scientists believe we can’t easily remove the plastic and rubbish from our oceans and estimate it could take 70 specialist ships over 100 years just to clean up current contamination
We’ve found our Awarua Bay clean-up to be a great family experience with the kids exploring the shorelines and also learning about some critical environmental issues. Awarua Bay is a huge place and we certainly haven’t covered it all, so if you have a spare couple of hours one day and a few rubbish bags go for a walk along the shores – you’ll be helping to preserve this special place.
Roger Hackett – Superintendent Asset Optimisation, Assets