How AFD is tackling ocean plastic

Sep 13, 2019 by afdadmin
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Ocean plastic pollution 

The amount of plastic in our oceans is at an all time high, with 8 million pieces finding their way into water every year. In 2018, a shocking study estimated more than half of the world’s sea turtles have plastic in their stomach. 

The problem with plastic is it takes a long time to break down – estimates push the end of life date up to 1,000 years. Even when it’s broken down into smaller pieces, micro-plastics still do a lot of damage to marine animals and coral. 

Marine animals can become entangled in ocean plastic and abandoned fishing gear, or swallow items which cause deadly health ramifications. Plastic also seriously affects Australian corals, with a recent study reporting tangled coral is about 90 percent more likely to get a disease. 

We are dumping more and more pollution into our oceans, and it’s marine life that suffers. Every few weeks we see another report of a cetacean dying from ingesting plastic, and the trend only seems to be increasing. In March this year, a whale died off the Daveo Gulf of the Phillipines with 40 kg of plastic in its stomach.

Researchers were shocked with the amount of plastic found in the whale. Credit: Darrell Blatchley

What we’ve been doing to combat ocean plastic

Over the past year, AFD has directed efforts towards combating marine debris. We’ve started hosting beach cleans, removing a collective 160 kg of rubbish from Melbourne beaches. 

Earlier this year, we hosted the Frankston Seaside Scavenge where over 180 people joined us. The “trash for treasure” festival brought together numerous not-for-profits, local businesses and people from all over Melbourne to combat ocean pollution. 

Photo credit: Coastcare

Can you help keep these events going?

AFD continues to raise awareness about the effects of plastic pollution via our events and social media. We also encourage ethical and environmentally friendly alternatives by partnering with companies dedicated to providing products to phase out single-use plastic.

Humans generate 300 million tonnes of plastic waste, and this number is set to double by 2030. With the worst of plastic pollution hitting our oceans, it’s more important than ever to keep our beaches and waterways clean. 

How you can help 

On the 5th of October AFD is holding a worldwide beach clean up day. With multiple communities coming onboard, we can really make a dent in marine debris.

Click here to find out about the Melbourne event.

Click here to find out about the UK event.

If neither of these events are near you, consider hosting your own or joining another local clean up crew. We hope to see you there! 

Photo credit: Coastcare