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Eco Barge Tackles On-Shore Rubbish At Airlie Beach Foreshore

By Mark Beale

Eco Barge volunteers ramped up the fight against marine debris this morning at the Airlie Beach foreshore.

More than 50 people took part in a land-based clean up, focusing on black plastic drinking straws and cigarette butts.

Founder of the Eco Barge group Libby Edge said the organisation was a community based not-for-profit group whose aim was to implement a constant and on-going marine debris removal program.

Eco Barge has identified south east facing bays and beaches in the Whitsunday Island group as problem areas.

“The rubbish enters the water from storm water drains further south, gets into the currents and the south east trade winds blow it into the south facing bays,” she said.

Ms Edge said many tourists don’t see the scale of the marine debris problem because most resorts are positioned on north facing island bays.

Since July 2009 Eco Barge has removed over 147,000 kgs of marine rubbish from the water ways of the Whitsundays.

Great Barrier Marine Park Authority and the Australian Government Reef Trust have come together to support Eco Barge in their marine debris removal plan until June this year.

“It’s estimated that 60 to 80% of marine debris is coming from storm water drains and land based sources.”

“Today you will see there is a wind and plastic bags and straws will be blown into the water and swept out to sea.”

Ms Edge said if the rubbish can be collected onshore it will prevent plastic entering the ocean.

“Today is all about prevention.”

Ms Edge said that Eco Barge volunteers see the devastating effect of plastic on the wildlife population and provides strong motivation to dispose of litter responsibility.

SOURCE: WHITSUNDAY TIMES

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