OceanWatch is increasingly aware of the prevalence of litter in our state’s estuaries. As they serve as the main entrance of litter into the marine environment, they are often plagued with litter issues which can affect the health and productivity of these vital habitats.
Through the Litter Free Estuaries initative OceanWatch has developed a framework for reducing litter in estuaries, targeting a poorly understood subset of litter, benthic litter. This refers to litter that is deposited on the sea floor, and whilst too often out of sight and out of mind, it can cause serious degradation to the biodiversity, recreational, social, or cultural value of an estuarine area. Approximately 70% of all marine debris is eventually deposited in benthic habitats.
The Benthic Litter Prevention Framework provides an overview of the steps to follow to better understand benthic litter in estuaries and inform prevention action against it. Through the program OceanWatch is also investigating methods for surveying and monitoring litter in benthic habitats, exploring the use of ROVs, Scuba Diving, and various camera based methods to record and collect litter.
This project is a NSW Environment Protection Authority, Waste Less Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.