Volunteers and Hunter Local Land Services clear marine debris from Hunter Estuary

Alissa and the team collecting debris from the estuary. Photos supplied by Hunter Local Land Services.


HARDWORKING volunteers are continuing to clear marine debris from the north channel area of the Hunter Estuary near Tomago.

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Hunter Local Land Services volunteers have turned out in numbers to don their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and wade out into the mangroves in search of rubbish.

The group is assisted by not-for-profit contractor Clean 4 Shore, who provide a barge and safely dispose of the collected waste at the end of the day.

“Volunteers arrive and get dressed up in PPE. Wetsuit, wetsuit boots, life jacket, high vis, hats and glasses. We board the barge and motor up the river to places we have pre-surveyed and we know there will be rubbish,” said Alissa Rogers, Land Services Officer, Volunteer Program.

“We unload and head into the mangroves. Usually within about 50 metres from the shoreline, there is floating debris.

It is either glass or plastic bottles, polystyrene boxes, and some odd bits and pieces from industry, tyres, and all sorts of weird and wonderful treasures.”

The first three debris collection events collected more than nine tonnes of waste from just a 3.5km stretch of mangroves.

One event alone in August saw 18 volunteers remove 3780 plastic bottles, 2970 glass bottles included in 135 very full bags weighing 2.08 tonne.

Ms Rogers said that the mangroves were vital to the overall health of the estuary.

“The mangroves are a keystone species as they provide a habitat for fish breeding and act as a natural filter.

“Everything that is running down the Hunter about to go into the sea can be collected in these mangroves. That includes sediment but of course this rubbish as well.

“The mangroves are doing an amazing job doing what they do naturally but if we continue to remove the plastics and glasses out of the filter system it will help greatly.”

Ms Rogers said the events were part of a much bigger project to maintain the region’s waterways.

“It all started on the first Clean Up Australia Day over 30 years ago, the volunteers have been trudging through the mangroves picking up rubbish ever since.

“There is also some source reduction happening. We work with the Australian Marine Debris Initiative and we add our data to their database. This is aimed at reducing the source of the litter and hopefully down where we are there will be less to pick up in the future.”

Further debris removal events are planned for Thursday 10 and Thursday 24 September, to get involved contact Alissa Rogers on 0400 995 360.




The team of volunteers with the bags of rubbish collected.


The volunteers on the barge supplied by Clean 4 Shore.

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