Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Warren Entsch today launched a $5 million federal-government initiative to remove and reduce marine debris from Australia’s greatest natural asset.
The month-long initiative funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust is targeting the removal of more than 20 tonnes of debris from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to protect its rich ecosystems and resilience.
It underlines the Morrison Government’s commitment to reducing waste along our coastal waters and across the wider pacific region.
Mr Entsch, who launched ‘ReefClean’ at Townsville’s Reef HQ, said the initiative would see clean-up events take place in towns and communities all along the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
He said Tangaroa Blue Foundation, working in partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia, was coordinating this year’s ‘ReefClean’ events.
“Since this initiative commenced last year ‘ReefClean’ has engaged more than 1702 volunteers who have removed more than 11 tonnes of debris from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,” Mr Entsch said.
“The 2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report identified marine debris as a high threat to the health and resilience of the Reef and its inhabitants.
“Debris such as plastic bags, bottles and discarded fishing nets pose a significant risk to the Reef’s ecosystems.
“In particular, wildlife such as turtles, dugongs, corals and seabirds can suffer injury or death through entanglement and ingestion.
“There is absolutely no doubt the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most treasured natural ecosystems and that Australian’s are the best Reef managers in the world – something as a nation we should be extremely proud of.
“We now need to start striving to become world leaders in removing plastic pollution from our oceans, especially from the Great Barrier Reef.
“The Reef contributes $6.4 billion to the Queensland and Australian economies, so it is absolutely vital we keep it healthy and free of litter both for the marine environment itself and for the 64,000 jobs that rely upon it.”
Mr Entsch said ‘ReefClean’ builds on an earlier Reef Trust investment that saw 5,872 volunteers remove a staggering 32 tonnes of litter from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
“This project will combine with existing efforts currently underway to clean up our beaches and our waterways and work with the broader community to help prevent the flow of litter from its source,” he said.
“I would encourage everyone who loves our beautiful Great Barrier Reef to get involved in efforts to protect it from marine debris by participating ‘ReefClean.’
For further information or to volunteer at an existing event or register your own community event visit www.reefclean.org