Plastic, ropes litter beaches

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times

Fresh figures from the latest Capes Beach Clean-Up again show small pieces of plastic debris and abandoned plastic shopping bags are ruining WA’s coastline.

The Tangaroa Blue 2016 annual report lists almost 2200 individual pieces of plastic film and 619 plastic bags were collected by volunteers in October.

These findings are on top of more than 13,000 pieces of plastic debris and 2.4km in junked nylon fishing line retrieved from local beaches.

And the report also lists similar lengths of abandoned ropes and fishing net scraps among the 90kg unearthed between Ellensbrook and Margaret River, 58kg of rubbish at Wilyabrup, 18kg at Conto’s Beach, and 25.5kg of waste collected in Augusta.

More than 1800 volunteers Statewide contributed to the clean-ups which netted more than five tons of waste.

The Capes clean-up also made headlines last year for finding and reporting illegal oil containers and dangerous plastic resin pellets, which are potentially deadly if ingested by wildlife.

“Some of the more interesting finds made around the State include half a canoe found near the Margaret River mouth, a couch found in the dunes at Leighton Beach, a brand-new selfie stick picked up on remote Deepdene Beach, black plastic resin pellets found along the North Fremantle foreshore of the Swan River, and over 500 straws found during a clean-up on the Jindalee foreshore,” the report said.

“Big sections of rope have been found washed up along the more remote sections of coastline in the South West, and many rope fragments and microplastics have been found littering the beaches.”

In October, co-ordinator Renee Mouritz said some sections of the coast around Kilcarnup were difficult for volunteers to access and yielded more rubbish than expected.

The report found recreational fishers were a significant contributor to beach waste and the Leeuwin current dispersed fishing waste as well as plastic remnants and garbage from passing freighters.

The Capes clean-up collected more than 1200 plastic drink bottles and juice containers and 1555 pieces of disposable food packaging.

Tangaroa Blue has pushed for a State-based container deposit scheme to encourage recycling, with the report arguing such a scheme would reduce the amount of waste finding its way to South West beaches. The WA Government has pledged to introduce the scheme by mid-2018.

“Introduction of the scheme will bring WA into line with New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, which have already announced their intention to implement a container deposit scheme, and South Australia and the Northern Territory which have existing schemes,” the report said.

“We recommend everyone supports this scheme through public comment opportunities as they arise.”

Similar clean-ups on the south coast found plastic waste accounted for 56 per cent of the rubbish collected.

Tangaroa Blue again called on the WA Government to act on single-use disposable shopping bags, action on which the report said was supported by 22 local governments.

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