Gladstone Councillor Col Chapman thinks there should be stricter rules for the use of plastic bags.
Gladstone Councillor Col Chapman thinks there should be stricter rules for the use of plastic bags. Tegan Annett

Wildlife in danger as amount of harbour rubbish increases

A UNIVERSITY study has revealed the amount of rubbish washing into our harbour has increased, and plastic continues to cause the most problems for wildlife.

CQUniversity researcher Scott Wilson said findings from this year's quarterly report into rubbish found in the Gladstone Harbour showed plastic was, as usual, the most frequent rubbish found.

"What we found in the latest quarterly is that the levels of debris on our coastal beaches seem to have increased from the previous sample," Mr Wilson said.

"What we're finding is more of the oceanic-based rubbish, so not necessarily from stormwater, but more from being blown in from out at sea."

He said more than 90% of the rubbish found was plastic. "The common risk from this is related to ingestion," he said. "As the plastic breaks up into smaller pieces it becomes more readily ingested to a whole range of animals."

He said researchers had seen a high proportion of plastics in the stomachs of fish and sea birds.

"The chemicals that attach to the plastics can also potentially cause a toxic risk."

This is the third year the university has conducted the study, and he said the results have been fairly consistent.

"It is showing that we are getting considerable amounts of rubbish on our beaches."

Volunteers from the Conservation Council Gladstone are responsible for collecting the survey data from our coastlines and the project is funded by QGC.

Mr Wilson said everyone could play a part in implementing strategies to reduce the harm rubbish caused on our beaches.

Despite this issue with plastic, the Newman Government is against charging shoppers for the use of biodegradable plastic bags.

Environment Minister Andrew Powell has ruled out a ban, and said the governments was consulting waste generators and industry groups to find the best ways to reduce the amount of waste in Queensland.

"A number of local governments have established their own bylaws on the use of plastic bags and I encourage members of the public to always consider our environment when disposing of litter and waste," Mr Powell said.

Strange items found in our harbour:

  • Sex toys
  • USB sticks
  • Industry-related products - boots, hard hats, gloves.
  • Hair brushes
  • Cameras

Councillor supports banning plastic bags

PLASTIC bags can be found in shops, homes and our harbour.

Gladstone Councillor Col Chapman said there was certainly an issue with hard and soft plastics being found along our coastlines and in our harbour.

He said there needed to be a better understanding of the real environmental issues this caused.

He pointed out the data gathered by CQUniversity's most recent survey of waste in the harbour was far worse than what was known.

"What we collect on top of the water is only a small percentage of how much waste there actually is," Cr Chapman said.

"There is a lot more than what we can actually see."

Following the government's discussions of charging shoppers for plastic bags, Cr Chapman said he would support a plastic ban.

"In my personal opinion, I believe many shopping bags should actually be banned," he said.

"Many of them blow around and into the water and are consequently being ingested by turtles, causing a fatal result."

Strategies and motions by the council are in place to attempt to reduce this issue.

He said a stormwater strategy was in place to prevent anything entering waterways and drains.

But he said a little bit of consideration from the community would make a difference.

"Even if you live out in the suburbs, if you litter it will eventually go into the drains or a creek and end up in the ocean."

How do you feel about a possible ban on plastic shopping bags?

This poll ended on 12 August 2013.

Current Results

It needs to happen - just do it

33%

It works elsewhere, so it should work here

12%

Sounds like a bit of a nuisance to me

16%

Bah ... more greeny claptrap

37%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.