Marine debris have a direct impact on threatened and endangered marine species.
Tackling marine debris
CSIRO is leading a three-year, world-leading survey of marine debris in Australian waters to help protect ecosystems and wildlife.
4 March 2012 | Updated 29 April 2014
Marine debris is what we call the waste that makes its way into our oceans, lakes and rivers. It is a major global threat to marine biodiversity.
By effectively ‘clogging up’ our oceans and water ways, marine debris has a direct impact on fish, amphibians, invertebrates, birds, reptiles, and mammals – including threatened and endangered marine species. And as the rate of rubbish in the ocean grows exponentially, this impact continues to increase.
In 2011 CSIRO partnered with Earthwatch to deliver the largest, most comprehensive marine debris research survey - ever. The three year project is funded by Shell.
The marine debris research survey aims to identify and understand the threat marine debris poses to our wildlife and ecosystems by mapping out where – and how – it is accumulating along Australian coastlines.
CSIRO researchers have visited more than 170 sites around Australia, completing over 575 transects (or 'straigh line surveys'), stopping at 100 kilometre intervals along the Australian coast, investigating:
A research team led by Dr Denise Hardesty of the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship is investigating the threat posed by marine debris to Australian wildlife and ecosystems.
- sources, distribution, and ultimate fate of marine debris
- the effectiveness of government policies and community action in reducing plastic pollution
- exposure of marine wildlife to debris
- the effects of ingestion and entanglement on marine wildlife populations.
The data collected are compiled in a national Marine Debris Database, designed to assist governments and industry in the formulation of waste management policies and practices intended to protect marine ecosystems.
This database is due to be published in mid 2014.
The project is part of TeachWild, a three-year marine debris research and education program, developed by EarthWatch Australia in partnership with CSIRO and Shell.
Learn more about CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship.