Wilderness Coast Weeds Project cleans up Wallaga, Mimosa Rocks beaches

The Protecting the Wilderness Coast Weeds Project has been working at keeping Far South Coast beaches clear of weeds and clean of garbage over the past 10 years.

Recently, members of Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council tallied the garbage they had collected from two beaches in Mimosa Rocks National Park and a second tally from Wallaga Beach North. The data has been submitted to the Tangaroa Blue AMDI database.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is an Australian-wide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris, one of the major environmental issues worldwide.

The foundation created the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI), an on-ground network of volunteers, communities and organisations that contribute data from rubbish collected during beach and river clean-up events to the AMDI Database, and then work on solutions to stop the flow of litter at the source. 

Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council members Loanna Panton and Yuin Kelly together with project officer Stuart Cameron recently counted up the garbage they had collected from the isolated beaches.

“With no vehicle access, all the garbage has been washed in from the sea,” Mr Cameron said.

Over the years of the project, about 5 tonnes of garbage had been collected by the groups working along the coast, he said. And participants had noticed there is even more refuse and garbage where there is easy vehicle access, indicating some people have no respect for local beaches.

"Regrettably some dog walkers have the bizarre, antisocial habit of collecting their dog waste in the bags provided then tossing the parcels up into the dunes, where they become a major and decidedly unpleasant contribution to beach litter,” Mr Cameron said.

The Protecting the Wilderness Coast Weeds Project has been extended into Eurobodalla Shire, so it now covers about 20 per cent of the NSW coastline. Twice a year, members of three Local Aboriginal Land Councils walk the coastline. 

"In the time of the Weeds Project, there has been a tremendous reduction in weed infestations along our beaches," said Karen Joynes, from Bermagui Dune Care, who also helped with the tally.

"It means we can now plant instead of  repeatedly weeding the same stretch of beach, improving the amenity and habitat of our most valuable asset,” she said.

The highest counts for all three beaches were for foam pieces (210), pieces of hard plastic (99), soft plastic pieces (81), plastic drink bottles (47), bottle tops (33)  and balloon remnants (12), indicating plastic pollution is a real threat to the local marine environment.