Beach polluted

BATHERS BEACH has been polluted by hundreds of thousands of plastic nurdles and mysterious blue rods environmentalists suspect may have come from the aquaculture industry.

Nurdles are the raw material used in manufacturing plastic objects and a known menace to marine life, which mistake them for food.

Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris Campaign conducted two clean-ups on Fremantle beaches in the last month and organiser Liza Dicks said they were disheartened by the results.

Ms Dicks said volunteers took about a centimetre of sand from 12 quadrants on Bathers Beach, and at the high tide mark found between 500 and 700 nurdles in each square metre. Given there’s about 400sqm along the high tide mark, that means there’s likely to be more than 250,000 nurdles on the beach.

• Lisa and Georgie Dicks from Sea Shepherd found thousands of plastic nurdles polluting Bathers Beach. Photo by Steve Grant

“People have told us that these have been appearing on Bathers Beach for some time, but we haven’t seen this type on any other beach, they’re a different shape and colour,” Ms Dicks told the Herald.

She says the tiny blue rods were “like confetti” when the clean-up team hit the beach.

“I showed them to someone who’s been involved in beach clean-ups for a long time, and he immediately said ‘oh, those come from aquaculture’,” she said.

When the Herald returned to the beach on Thursday there were still hundreds of them along the shoreline.

Last weekend Sea Shepherd returned to South Beach after doing a clean-up in January.

Ms Dicks said they were shocked to discover 22,000 new pieces of rubbish, including 1000 plastic bags. She says that bolsters Fremantle and East Fremantle councils’ plans to ban them locally.

“I just can’t understand how people can be so disgusting and just throw their rubbish away.”

Ms Dicks says it was disappointing for the volunteers to see that their efforts cleaning the beach were virtually pointless.

Last November the Herald reported that millions of nurdles had polluted the banks of the Swan River in North Fremantle. The Department of Environment Regulation investigated the problem, but the Chook understands no culprit was identified.

by STEVE GRANT

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