Marine debris

Why is marine debris a problem?

Rubbish and marine debris is a serious threat to marine life and endangered bird species residing along the coastal waters of the Great Australian Bight. So serious is this threat that ‘injury and fatality to vertebrate marine life caused by ingestion of, or entanglement in, harmful marine debris' has been listed as a key threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).  

What's being done?

In response to this threat, in June 2009 the Australian Government made the Threat Abatement Plan for the Impacts of Marine Debris on Vertebrate Marine Life (the Plan) under the EPBC Act following consultation with stakeholders including industry, conservation groups, state, territory and local governments. Since 2010 Natural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara (AW) has worked in partnership with the Yalata Community to remove marine debris from 3 sites within the region, extending from Fowlers Bay to the Western Australian border.

In 2013, youth from the Yalata community designed and implemented a pilot program targeting marine debris at the community’s most utilised beach, Yalata Beach. The Youth collected over twenty kilograms of marine debris, mostly ropes and plastics, from the Yalata beach, reef and campsite areas, increasing their awareness of the issue as well as their ability to design implement and undertake projects within the region. Natural Resources AW staff  also surveyed and cleared an additional three sites in 2013, with a total of 331.88kg of marine debris removed. As part of this project, surveys were conducted to provide insight into the origin of the marine debris to inform management strategies aimed at minimising the amount of marine debris washing up, with the majority of debris occurring along the coast being from marine based sources.

The data collected from these surveys undertaken by Natural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara contribute to both state and national plans for targeting marine debris. In May 2013, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Natural Resource Management Boards hosted a “tackling marine debris state-wide” event which facilitated Natural Resource Management Boards from across the state coming together to present data and ideas on how to tackle this issue statewide.

Lead agency

Natural Resources Alinytjara Wilurara


Yalata Community