Male Sea LionSea Shepherd Marine Debris Campaign volunteers collected over 12,000 cigarette butts in just one hour (Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd).

OVER 90 volunteers collected an alarming 12,549 cigarette butts in just one hour from clean-ups organised by Sea Shepherd Australia’s Marine Debris Campaign at Coogee Beach and Goldstein Reserve in Sydney on the weekend.

This follows 9600 butts picked-up on Bondi Beach in early February.

Around the country, Sea Shepherd volunteers have picked up 425,209 cigarette butts from beaches and waterways since February 2016.

Sydney Marine Debris Campaign Coordinator Sylvia Della Vedova was not surprised by the amount of cigarette butts being found here and around the country.

“Bondi and Coogee Beach are two of Sydney’s most iconic beaches. Sadly, smokers throwing their butts on the ground seems to be the norm in our current society. It’s a bad habit, which needs to be addressed,” Sylvia said.

 “I think there needs to be more education surrounding the damaging impact butts are having on our marine environment,” Sylvia added.

Cigarette filters are predominantly made from cellulose acetate, which is a type of plastic that can take over a decade to decompose.

According to environmental researches cited by the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project, traces of this plastic have been found in approximately 70 per cent of seabirds and 30 percent of turtles.

“Today, smokers make an educated choice to inhale toxins into their body. If they don’t care about looking after their own health then why should the health of seabirds and our precious marine life also suffer?”

Sydney’s Waverly Council has banned smoking at Bronte and Tamarama in 2009 and in Bondi in 2004 but is regularly criticised by local residents for not doing enough to enforce the law.

“Being a local of Bondi for the past 10 years, I spend most of my free time at the beach and I have not once seen a smoker on the beach being asked to stop or receive a fine. Councils need to take more responsibility and enforcing the smoke free ban,” Sylvia added.

Sea Shepherd volunteer Joel Carter says it’s heartening to see so many people contribute to give the next generation a fighting chance of living a full and healthy life on this planet.

“It’s just really unfortunate that a section of the smoking community is able to litter over 12,000 cigarettes on Coogee Beach alone.

Male Sea LionA young volunteer shows us what 12,549 cigarette butts looks like  (Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd).

“It’s destroying our beautiful ecosystem that we have been able to enjoy all our lives and it’s very unsettling to know that we might not be able to share our healthy oceans with our children if this dirty habit continues,” Joel added.

Sea Shepherd Australia’s Marine Debris Campaign would like to thank Boomerang Bags for their generous donation of 45 reusable bags and to Randwick City Council for donating 20 tickets to their upcoming screening of ‘Blue – The film’ at Randwick Ritz Cinema.

To find out more about how to get involved in our Marine Debris Campaign, please visit their Facebook Page.

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