$700k allocated to clean up marine litter along reef

THE Federal Government will allocate $700,000 to clean up marine debris across the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will team with community groups along the Queensland coast to conduct reef clean-up events.

The first annual clean-up will be held in October next year.

Waterways, beaches and the reef catchment will be cleared of litter to prevent wet season rains washing it in to the ocean.

Reef Guardian councils, fishers, farmers and schools, along with traditional owners, community groups and tourism operators, will be able to get involved in the clean-ups and organise their own activities.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the reef was a great natural treasure, and it was important to keep it free of litter.

"For the marine environment itself and communities and industries that depend on a healthy reef," Mr Hunt said.

"This initiative will coordinate efforts using strong local networks to tackle a problem requiring local solutions."

Identifying marine debris hotspots through the development of a smartphone app is part of the new initiative, being delivered under the $5 million Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan.

According to the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014, marine debris affects inshore habitats, species, and the reef's aesthetic values.

Between 2008 and 2014, about 683,000 individual items of marine debris, weighing in total over 42 tonnes, were collected from beaches in the reef region by volunteers.

Plastic is the main offender. Plastic bags, micro-plastics, bottles, ropes and nets come from land and sea.

Plastic bags and nets can injure and kill dugong, turtles and sea birds.

Marine debris can also pose a navigational hazard and smother corals.

Topics:  beaches environment great barrier reef greg hunt marine debris

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