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Marine debris

The NZUA is an active advocate for keeping seas clean and, at this time of year, many scuba divers help out with underwater cleanups. The Project AWARE Trust is a worldwide organisation that supports cleanups and is one of the most active in collecting data which is then passed onto the Ocean Conservancy which holds the largest database in the world on marine trash. It is all credit to those young and old that takes part in cleanups all around our beautiful coast.

The NZUA Environmental Section representative, Mike Percy, attended the 5th International Marine Debris Conference last year held in Honolulu. A lot was learnt at the conference and a network has been setup to continue our understanding of the complex issues that are part of an ever increasing worldwide problem. For example –  what to do with an estimated 20 million tonnes of marine trash from last year’s Japanese tsunami heading towards the east coast of America and the Hawaiian group of islands. That’s 20,000 times more marine trash than that produced by the MV Rena grounding on the Astrolabe Reef. Be good advocates for cleaner seas by helping on every dive. If you see a piece of trash while you are diving pick it up. For more information on how you can help visit http://www.projectaware.org/update/dive-against-debris-australia



‘A Sea of Change – Marine Debris’

I don’t need to burden you with a vast amount of science and statistics. We already know that the oceans and, in particular, the Pacific Ocean are under a continuing stress of having vast amounts of rubbish dumped into them daily.  Our attendance at the 5th International Marine Debris Conference 2011held in Honolulu brought home the harsh reality of the present situation. As recreational divers, fishing and boating people we can’t individually do much to solve the huge problems associated with marine waste. We can however support local and international cleanups like those organised by the Project AWARE Trust, Keep New Zealand Beautiful. Sustainable Coastlines, Waitemata Harbour Cleanup Trust and the Sir Peter Blake Trust to name but a few.

For your part I would encourage you to look at ways to promote and eliminate, where practical, the use of waste. For example a recent talk with Paul Oxton (Director of Dive HQ West Auckland) will see future dive tank refills with no plastic tape around the tank valve, opting to promote using a reusable cap instead. Wouldn’t it be great to have a plastic bag free dive, fishing and boating industry?

Some retail outlets are already asking customers if they need a plastic bag – why not go to the next step and ban them altogether like Italy did last year. It was done out of necessity where the average Italian used over 300 plastic bags a year? New Zealand is not that far behind with every Kiwi using 250 plastic bags a year. If you can’t find practical alternatives please encourage recycling through your marketing resources. We also have to mindful of the introduction of bio-plastics which are a good substitute and are made from materials such as vegetable oil, corn and pea starch instead of the usual polyethylene (LDPE, LLDPE etc).

If you have any comments about ‘Sea of Change – Marine Debris’ please don’t hesitate to contact us. You know your organisation, and I’m sure you and your team can and have already come up other ways to reduce, recycle and reuse waste especially plastics. I have attached copy of our ‘Pacific Ocean Poster’ and we are more than happy to send you copies (5 posters maximum). Finally, please send us your success stories as we would love to promote them in our ‘Enews Newsletter’
NZUA Environmental Section

  • The time you have taken to read this page, approximately 5 million plastic drink bottles have been put into landfills in the USA.
  • Remember that trash on land can eventually makes it way to the ocean – no matter how far.
  • Reuse items whenever possible! Choose reusable items over disposable ones!
  • Recycle as much as possible! So many items these days can be recycled.
  • Learn the facts about marine debris and help spread the word!
  • Practice the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
  • Make sure that your rubbish bins have tight fitting lids to prevent rubbish from blowing away.
  • Leave the beach cleaner than when you got there!
  • Recycle your fishing line or place it away in the proper place!
  • Join your friends and family and participate in the International Coastal Cleanup –
  • Reduce the amount of waste you produce.
  • Always disposed of your rubbish properly.
  • Get involved




Permanent link to this article: http://nzu.org.nz/diving-in-nz/environmental/marine-debris/