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  Seaweek 2004    

Harmful Marine Debris

Seabirds and marine animals are at risk from our rubbish. This rubbish that litters our coasts and oceans is called marine debris There are two main sources of marine debris:

  1. Land sourced eg beach litter and rubbish washed or blown into the sea via run-off and stormwater drains.
  2. Ocean sourced eg fishing gear and rubbish tossed over the sides of boats and ships.

Our plastics become harmful marine debris as they float about the ocean. Plastic bags, bottles, synthetic ropes and nets trap, entangle, choke, starve, drown and are ingested by marine animals. Marine debris is serious hazard for seabirds and animals.

There is a new government initiative that now makes harmful marine debris a 'key threatening process'.

To find out more about this and harmful marine debris download a Harmful Marine Debris fact sheet.

Photograph courtesy GBRMPA

Under international law (MARPOL 73/78 Convention) the dumping of plastic waste at sea is prohibited. This is enforced in Australia with the 'Protection of the Sea, Act 1983':

  • Ports and marinas are required to have waste disposal facilities.
  • Vessels over 400 tons are required to keep a record book and to develop a waste management plan with procedures for collecting, storing, processing and disposal of garbage.
  • All vessels over 12 metres are required to display information about garbage laws.
  • Debris that may identify a ship can be reported to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
  • Fines of over a million dollars for companies and a quarter of million for individuals may be imposed on boat operators illegally dumping garbage at sea.

Find out more at Australian Maritime Safety Authority www.amsa.gov.au

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Seaweek 2004 Home
1 Get started for
Seaweek 2004
2 Harmful Marine Debris
3 The EAC (East Australian Current)
4 Fish Fact File
5 Dugongs
6 Ghost Fishing -
Reducing the impact of fishing on non target species
7 First View - Giant Crab at home on the Slope
8 I live in the sea: Turtles the ancient mariners of the sea
9 I live in the sea: Sharks & Rays - they're more scared of us!
10 Sea stars
11 Marine algae
12 Sea jellies
13 Crustaceans
14 Echinoderms
15 Marine reptiles
16 Fisheries and Aquaculture
17 Whales & Dolphins
18 Protection of precious wetlands - success in New Zealand
19 Seaweek Discoveries in Vic Marine National Parks
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