Poster Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Drivers of marine debris composition and abundance across Queensland, Australia (#500)

Jordan Gacutan 1 2 , Heidi Tait 3 , Wally Smith 3 , Graeme F Clark 1
  1. School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia
  2. Global Ocean Accounts Partnership, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  3. Tangaroa Blue Foundation, Port Douglas 4877, Queensland, Australia

Anthropogenic debris within coastal and marine environments poses risks to ecosystems and communities that support them. Growing concern has led to the implementation of legislation, policy, and management action, to curb further entry of debris and reduce the amount already within the environment. Informing such actions and determining their effectiveness, however, requires an understanding of debris sources and the factors that drive dispersion. Debris items vary in material, shape, size, and density, which influences dispersal, whilst winds and currents define the travel and fate of debris from initial deposition. Further, local conditions and geomorphology will influence flux between coastal and marine environments. Here, we determine the human and physical factors that influence debris, using data from quarterly monitoring (2019 – 2022) of 18 sites across Queensland, Australia. Partnering with citizen scientists from the ReefClean project, coordinated by Tangaroa Blue Foundation, we explore priority debris items that are the target of existing policy and legislation within Queensland and further determine the impacts of lockdowns and specific items in response to COVID-19. This study demonstrates the use of a monitoring program to understand trends, to inform policy and management interventions at scale.