With the toxic tide of marine plastic pollution devastating oceans and marine wildlife worldwide, Sea Shepherd Australia’s Marine Debris Campaign is getting behind the Plastic Free July initiative in a major way. Plastic Free July is an annual global campaign which aims to create awareness of the environmental problems associated with plastics, in particular single-use plastic products.
During the month of July, Sea Shepherd Australia’s Marine Debris Teams are hosting a range of community events across Australia in support of Plastic Free July.
- 3 July, 2016:Hobart Beach Clean-up (Kingston Beach, TAS)
- 8 July, 2016:Plastic Paradise Film Screening (Peppermint Grove, WA)
- 9 July, 2016:Exmouth Beach Clean-up (Bundegi, WA)
- 10 July, 2016:Sydney Beach Clean-up (Kurnell Beach, NSW)
- 30 July 2016:Fremantle Beach & Coastal Reserve Clean-up (Coogee, WA)
- 31 July 2016:Brisbane Beach Clean-up (Redcliffe Jetty, QLD)
More than 75 percent of all marine debris collected at Sea Shepherd clean-ups in 2016, has been made of plastic, much of which is single-use. The top items removed are cigarette butts, plastic food packaging, plastic bags, disposable cups, water bottles and straws.
“We have been shocked at the volume of marine debris removed at our clean-ups. Our efforts are just the tip of the iceberg and initiatives like Plastic Free July play an important role in creating awareness and inspiring change in addressing the increasing issue of plastic in our environment,” said Marina Hansen, Sea Shepherd Australia Marine Debris Campaign Coordinator.
Plastics in the marine environment have significant ecological impacts causing welfare and conservation concerns including ingestion, entanglement and strangulation to marine wildlife, impacts to sensitive and at-risk habitats like coral reefs and threats to endangered species.
Plastic debris is ever-present in the world’s oceans and waterways: occurring at remote or populated shorelines, at coastal waters or in deep oceans, can be found on the seabed or floating on the surface of the sea. Over 80% of marine life and up to 90% seabirds now contain plastic, and the toxic metals absorbed by microplastics. These concerns are at the core of Sea Shepherd Australia’s Marine Debris Campaign.
Sea Shepherd Australia’s Marine Debris Campaign was launched in February 2016 and has already hosted 56 river and coastal clean-ups, removing over 172,000 items of marine debris weighing over four (4) tonnes. The campaign involves volunteers from Sea Shepherd and members of the community joining forces as one solution to the growing problem of marine debris. To date Sea Shepherd’s clean-up events have involved over 1,200 volunteers from seven states.
“We are delighted that Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris Program is growing around the country to not only clean our beaches but raise awareness of the problem and encouraging people to participate,” said Rebeca Prince-Ruiz, Founder of Plastic Free July.
“They are great champions of the Plastic Free July challenge which has grown to over 36,000 people, organisations and schools from 85 countries refusing single-use plastic and together making a difference.”
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