Amputee turtles among six injured by boat strikes

TWO turtles with amputated flippers are among six injured turtles recovering at Sea World as a result of being entangled in marine debris and boat strikes, Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles confirmed today.

Speaking from Sea World on the Gold Coast, Dr Miles said he was concerned marine life continued to be harmed by debris which included common household plastic materials.

"A loggerhead turtle which is an endangered species in Queensland, and a green turtle, have each had one flipper amputated due to marine debris entanglement," Dr Miles said.

"Each turtle rescued is a reminder that marine debris, which includes plastics and fishing gear, harms our most threatened and endangered marine species.  

"As the Environment Minister it is my priority to shine the light on human-created marine debris while our government gets on with leading an east coast approach to banning single-use plastic bags,' he said.

Dr Miles said that in coming weeks, EHP officers would meet with New South Wales and Victoria Government representatives for further discussions on a consistent approach to single-use plastic bags.

"In addition, the Queensland Government is ramping up its research into plastic material making its way through the litter system, as part of investigations into the introduction of a state-based Container Deposit Scheme.

"Plastic bottles and single-use plastic bags are a real concern, for me and the many thousands of Queenslanders who want to reduce litter.

"Soon to be completed audits of rubbish caught up in storm water traps on the Gold Coast will also give the government a better picture of what people are littering, and what potentially is ending up in local waterways,' he said.

Sea World's Trevor Long said the turtles recovering at the park were among the lucky ones as not all marine life victims of marine debris and boat strikes can be saved.

"On average Sea World rescues between 40 and 70 turtles annually with many coming into our care with injuries due to human interaction such as fishing line and netting entanglements, swallowing plastic bags or with hooks in their flippers," Mr Long said.

"To combat the staggering amount of litter and plastics entering South East Queensland's waterways and threatening marine wildlife, Sea World Research & Rescue Foundation has partnered with Healthy Waterways on the Community Marine Debris and Zero Waste grants to support community groups to undertake clean-up activities.

"Last year, the Healthy Waterways Clean Up Program removed over 115,000 items of litter from four rivers in South East Queensland, and almost 45% of this litter was plastic including bottles and bags.

"With many marine animals living around Gold Coast waterways, it is important to educate the community about the importance of caring for the marine environment and how they can minimise their impacts,' Mr Long said.

Dr Miles said the Palaszczuk Government was also participating in a Gold Coast working group exploring solutions to fishing litter in particular bait bags.

"So there is certainly a lot of focus on plastics at the moment, which is one of our priorities.

"If we can work together to limit plastic items from ending up in the environment, we would be helping save turtles, dugongs, dolphins and fish from suffocation and the slow and painful death caused by ingesting plastic,' he said.

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