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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

6 December 2005

WA marine debris campaign wins Minister's Award


A grassroots volunteer effort to clear marine debris from the wild coastline around Western Australia’s Margaret River has been recognised with the Minister’s Award for Coastal Custodians.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the initiative of local marine conservationist Heidi Palmer and her band of 100 volunteers and corporate supporters deserved national recognition for their Cape to Cape Beach Clean Up.

“Heidi and her volunteers have shown what can be achieved with a well-organised community campaign, clearing more than 8000 individual pieces of debris in a single day from the coastline between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia’s beautiful south-west,” Senator Campbell said.

“Heidi is a true coastal custodian, a steward for our precious coastline and I hope this award will help her and the Tangaroa Blue team to mount another Cape to Cape Beach Clean Up in 2006.

“Marine debris is one of the biggest environmental problems in our oceans and the Cape to Cape Beach Clean Up is a demonstration of how we can turn the tide.

“Debris is adding to the pressure on our coastal and marine environment and is now estimated to kill about one million sea birds and 300,000 marine mammals and turtles each year."

The Cape to Cape Beach Clean Up was held on 1 October and enlisted volunteers from all over Western Australia’s south-west as well as dive clubs, Land Care associations, Rotary clubs, environment centres, progress associations, the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management (CALM), Shire Councils, Bag Smart and a number of businesses.

More than a tonne of rubbish was recovered, 90 per cent of which was lightweight plastic, such as drink bottles, food wrapping, fishing waste and lost gear. Ms Palmer provided training to all volunteers on recording of the waste, which has now been categorised. The waste has been sourced back to the commercial fishing and shipping industries, recreational fishermen, beach users, illegal dumpers and stormwater run-off. Follow-up workshops will analyse the reasons commonly found items become marine debris and then identify changes in design and practice to reduce the problem.

The $5000 Minister’s Award for Coastal Custodians is made annually in Coastcare Week, recognising the efforts of individuals and organisations around Australia for their practical solutions to marine or coastal environmental problems.

In 2005, nominations from each State and the Northern Territory were received for the award. A high standard of entries impressed with examples off innovation in environmental remediation, school and community-based awareness campaigns, campaigns to change environmentally damaging practices and behaviours, monitoring work leading to remediation action and cooperation between organisations, institutions, industry, business and government.

To arrange an interview with Heidi Palmer, please contact Richard Wilson on 03 6221 5020.

Media contact:
Renae Stoikos (Senator Campbell's office) 0418 568 434 - 02 6277 7640

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