ReefClean is a marine debris clean-up and prevention project in the Great Barrier Reef region being delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation (TBF), along with consortium members Conservation Volunteers Australia, Reef Check Australia, Eco Barge Clean Seas, AUSMAP, OceanWatch Australia, Think Spatial, Capricornia Catchments Inc. and South Cape York Catchments. The ReefClean project runs from October 2018 – June 2023 and is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.
ReefClean is designed to deliver actions that:
- reduce the volume of marine debris generated in or entering the Great Barrier Reef that may impact listed threatened and migratory species, such as dugongs and turtles, and ecosystems of the Great Barrier Reef, and
- increase awareness in Reef catchment communities about the issue of marine debris and actions they can undertake to prevent litter from entering Reef waterways. ReefClean activities will be delivered across the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and its catchment covering all 6 NRM regions (Cape York, Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay Whitsundays, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary).
ReefClean activities include community clean-up events, monitoring clean-up events, school engagement activities, community presentations and displays, source reduction workshops and projects and reporting and data analysis. CVA has engaged over 400 volunteers in the project since October 2013, at locations as diverse as urban beaches, offshore islands and popular recreational fishing spots in estuaries, creeks and coasts.
With clean ups and debris analysis occurring at the same locations every 3 months (monitoring activities), project staff say it has been interesting to see how the seasons and tides impact what debris is washing up. Public use of these sites is also showing to be an impact with more use over the warmer months leading to more land-based debris and discarded debris.
CVA’s ability to safely engage a wide variety of volunteers in the monitoring and community clean ups has enabled us to share knowledge and skills in the collection and data analysis of marine debris.
CVA Gladstone Regional Manager Linda Fahle says that is it hugely encouraging to see volunteers go on to do their own clean ups while walking the beach, once they have been introduced to the methodology and the ease of reporting their finds using the Tangaroa Blue app to record and manage marine debris collected.
This type of cultural change, where DIY beach clean ups become the norm, shows the passion and care communities have for their local coastlines and the wider ocean ecosystem, and how programs like ReefClean can enable better outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef and its diverse ecological and human communities.
ReefClean is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Conservation Volunteers Australia.