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Australian-first to tackle our marine debris problem

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is seeking citizen scientists who are willing to adopt local sites and commit to regular monitoring and data collection. In an Australian-first for citizen scientists, the Australia Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) has released new protocols for monitoring litter and marine debris, offering a standardised, national approach to collecting data on marine debris and plastic pollution.


Developed in collaboration with experts from University of New South Wales, University of Tasmania, Southern Cross University, Macquarie University and the Tangaroa Blue Foundation data team, the robust scientific protocols will enable citizen scientists to collect the vital data needed to inform source reduction plans and prevention strategies. These prevention plans and strategies will help address the impact of marine debris, which threatens not only wildlife and maritime activities but our environment, health, culture and economy.


“Monitoring programs have traditionally been government-led and undertaken by research entities, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Because of these limitations, there can be gaps in data” said Heidi Tait, CEO of Tangaroa Blue Foundation.


The robust monitoring protocols allow citizen scientists to fill these gaps. Standardised data collection methods are needed to bring data together from across Australia in a transparent and coherent way. This is where the AMDI monitoring methodologies come in.


The most effective way to reduce marine debris is to stop litter at the source. Jordan Gacutan from the University of New South Wales, said “to really address the marine debris problem, we need more robust data to better understand the movement and impact of debris, not only along the coast but also upstream in the communities where many of the issues begin. The AMDI monitoring protocols for litter and marine debris outlines the standardised methods for collecting and recording data, allowing citizen scientists to tailor monitoring activities to their chosen site”.


Tangaroa Blue Foundation is seeking citizen scientists who are willing to adopt local sites and commit to regular monitoring and data collection. By establishing these monitoring sites, citizen scientists, local councils, organisations, businesses and community groups can help with developing the Source Reduction Plans needed to adequately address the growing challenge of marine debris. Monitoring sites may include inland waterways, estuaries, on-ground areas such as parks, built drainage, coastal shorelines and underwater.


“By contributing this data on a continuous basis, you will be able to understand at an itemised and quantifiable level the marine debris signature of your area” says Tait, “and start impactful conversations with stakeholder groups to develop litter and marine debris reduction strategies. The long-term data not only supports the case to set prevention targets, but also to measure success in reaching those targets”.


The Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) was established in 2004 by the not-for-profit Tangaroa Blue Foundation, and brings together a network of communities, schools, industries, government agencies and individuals focused on reducing marine debris washing into our oceans. A key component of this initiative is the AMDI Database, which enables volunteers and organisations to enter data on their findings with a consistent methodology. To date, more than 21 million pieces of data have been inputted into the database, creating a comprehensive overview of the quantity and types of marine debris impacting our environment around the country.


The development of these standardised monitoring protocols was a collaborative effort with input from scientists from the University of New South Wales, University of Tasmania, Southern Cross University and Macquarie University. The project was supported by the Mostyn Family Foundation and the Australian Citizen Science Association.


To learn more about the AMDI Monitoring Protocols for Litter and Marine Debris and how you can get involved go to www.tangaroablue.org.



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