Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

A citizen science-driven regional Litter Index for Port Phillip Bay (#112)

Kimberley Macdonald 1 , Regan East 1 , Laura Town-Hopkinson 1
  1. Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, East Melbourne, VICTORIA, Australia

LitterWatch Victoria, launched in July 2020, is a publicly accessibly database capturing consistent state-wide litter data from a range of community groups and organisations. There are currently no programs in place to utilise this database to directly measure the harm of litter on the marine environment in Victoria. In response to this gap, the regional-scale Litter Index for Victoria’s largest embayment, Port Phillip Bay, has been developed.

The Litter Index is adapted from international approaches to litter evaluation. It elevates the available citizen-science data by meaningfully including it in environmental reporting through the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning’s Port Phillip Bay Environmental Management Plan. The Litter Index incorporates multiple indicators in a weighted, normalised hierarchy, allowing for continuous data inclusion, modification and refinement of outputs. The Litter Index is easily scalable due to the magnitude of LitterWatch data, providing avenues for future regional or state-wide applications. The creation of this tool will allow for transparent communication of litter-related threats to biodiversity to the public and land managers, highlighting the importance of citizen science in managing our valuable marine environment.