BIG PROBLEM: Seabird Rescue general manager Kathrina Southwell and volunteer Corey Ward pick up rubbish at the Richmond River nature reserve, South Ballina. Southwell is also pictured (below) with a Gould’s petrel in Seabird Rescue’s care.
BIG PROBLEM: Seabird Rescue general manager Kathrina Southwell and volunteer Corey Ward pick up rubbish at the Richmond River nature reserve, South Ballina. Southwell is also pictured (below) with a Gould’s petrel in Seabird Rescue’s care. The Northern Star

Aussie rubbish washing up on Aussie beaches

THERE'S no one else to blame but ourselves for the washed-up rubbish on our beaches, a new report has found.

CSIRO scientist Denise Hardesty's team surveyed sites about every 100km along the Australian coastline and found most of the marine debris was from Australian sources.

The study found the Northern Rivers coastline had between 10,000 and 20,000 pieces of marine debris per square kilometre.

The report also found that this marine debris was ingested by almost half of all seabirds, with 43% found to have plastic in their gut.

That number is predicted to skyrocket to 95% by 2050.

Australian Seabird Rescue North Coast general manager Kathrina Southwell said her team was already finding that close to 90% of some seabird species had plastic in their gut.

Ms Southwell said 88% of the Shearwater migratory birds that died on Northern Rivers beaches last year were found to have ingested plastic.

"It's huge and it obviously is a massive problem as we see in the wildlife we rehabilitate here at Seabird Rescue," she said.

"You only have to go to the beach after we've had some rain and you'll see that it's all local rubbish that's come from stormwater drains and creeks and rivers."

Ms Southwell said the marine debris was most likely the result of people not using rubbish bins or letting them overflow.

"I think we still need to be doing a lot of education and change in people's behaviour," she said.

Ms Southwell said more signage and ranger patrols along the beaches about the fines and penalties for littering could help.

She said the Ballina Shire Council had agreed to meet with Seabird Rescue to discuss their ideas.

Seabird Rescue Tours

Australian Seabird Rescue at Ballina will hold daily tours Monday to Friday from September 22 to October 3. The tours start at 10am and go for an hour.

They will cover the history of Seabird Rescue, how birds are caught, animal nesting on beaches and the turtle hospital. Entry is $5 and open to all ages. No bookings are required.



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