THE Turnbull government must lobby its South-East Asian neighbours to stop their rubbish floating south, says the Tangaroa Blue Foundation.
Backing up the research of Fremantle citizen scientists Jamie and Base Van Jones, Tangaroa’s managing director Heidi Taylor says she was already aware of a “trap” around Dirk Hartog Island that’s picking up international rubbish, but says it’s by no means an isolated pocket.
“We do clean-ups around the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York Peninsula, and 90 per cent of the debris comes from international sources,” Ms Taylor told the Herald.
Last month Tangaroa and Keep Australia Beautiful held a clean-up on the Cocos and Christmas Islands, and the findings were sobering.
“Christmas Island is rocky and you get these small coves, and the rubbish appears to wash across the rocks until it collects in them,” Ms Taylor said.
“We picked up 350kg from Greta Beach, and that is only 70 metres long.
“The polystyrene was like snow, and it’s mainly coming from the floats from fishing vessels.
“The thing about that beach is it’s a turtle nesting site. You could see where the turtles had been digging and you could see the bottom of the holes and they’d been digging through layers and layers of plastic.”
Tangaroa volunteer Patricia Swallow reported similar scenes on the Cocos Islands atoll.
Ms Swallow says the volunteers spent a fun day snorkelling on Direction Island’s famous rip, which takes tourists across a reef and out to a lagoon, and being on the protected side of the beach was beautiful and clean.
“After our run we headed through the bush to the ocean side of the island. And what a shock,” Ms Swallow said.
“Washed up on the rocks was a veritable mountain of marine debris.”
The team collected 200 thongs alone.
“Not counting all those plastic bottles, which had come from places such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia and The Maldives,” Ms Swallow said.
Ms Taylor says Tangaroa have collected bottles from Indonesia at the southern tip of Western Australia.