Curtis Island Clean-up coordinated by Conservation Volunteers Australia October 2019.
Curtis Island Clean-up coordinated by Conservation Volunteers Australia October 2019.

REVEALED: Extent of rubbish found in our reef

A new report has revealed the extent to which rubbish has polluted the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

Tangaroa Blue has released its findings from ReefClean, a five-year project that co-ordinates community clean-up events, education and awareness-raising activities.

In the Fitzroy region, encompassing areas including Wild Cattle Creek, Barney Point, Canoe Point, Lilley's Beach and areas around Yeppoon, there were nine clean-ups where 7071 items were removed weighing 403kg.

The top items removed were plastic bits at 26 per cent followed by cigarettes butts and filters at 23 per cent.

On Quoin Island, Curtis Island, Facing Island and The Keppels there were 10 clean-ups where 23672 items were removed weighing 1291kg.

The top items found were plastic bits making up 65 per cent, followed by lids and tops, pump spray, flow restrictor and similar at 14 per cent.

In the Burnett-Mary region there were two clean-ups, in the Sea Coves of Seventeen Seventy and Inness Park Beach, where 37kg were collected and 2199 plastic bits were found and 839 cigarette butts and filters.

Tangaroa Blue CEO Heidi Tait said that within the Fitzroy region glass had historically made up a larger percentage of debris than other parts of the state, contributing to 6 per cent between 2014-2018.

"Plastic being the number one item is always a massive concern because we know the intact items continually breaking into smaller pieces," Mrs Tait said.

"The number one item being plastic remnants, that's the legacy of the larger plastic items and they're a lot more time consuming and expensive to remove."

Mrs Tait said she hoped the findings from the project would help influence change at all three levels of government to shift away from single-use plastic and ensure policies are monitored efficiently.

"We know marine debris is an issue impacting our environment, economies, fisheries and tourism, we know we need to address it," she said.

"The world's population will keep increasing, we'll create and use more stuff.

"This issue will only get worse unless we turn it off at the tap.

"We know it's an issue but we know there's something we can do about it."