Council partners with USC students to clean up ocean | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Council partners with USC students to clean up ocean

8 Nov 2019

An innovative project by a group of USC students to remove tonnes of marine litter from local waters has secured financial backing from the Fraser Coast Regional Council

This weekend, the student-based Fraser Coast Intrepid Landcare group will oversee the installation of a giant floating Seabin in Hervey Bay’s Great Sandy Strait Marina, which has the capacity to collect more than one tonne of debris each year.

“To have the Council back this project is very exciting and proves our message is starting to resonate,” said second-year Bachelor of Animal Ecology student Jessica Sellke, who helped establish the Landcare group last year.

“Our aim is to not only stop the flow of plastics and other debris from beaches into the ocean but to remove some of the rubbish already in the water.”

Mayor George Seymour said he had been inspired by the work of the USC students and the Seabin initiative after hearing a presentation by Jessica to delegates at the recent International Whale Conference in Hervey Bay.

“The students are using their passion to a great end by investigating the Great Sandy Strait’s environment and looking at ways to reduce pollution and improve environmental outcomes,” Cr Seymour said.

Council will fund the cost of the bin initiative, which has a price tag of $7,000 for the bin and ongoing costs.

“I was very happy for the council to assist as it is really important that we investigate new ways of improving the natural environment around us,” he said.

The bin will act like an oceanic vacuum cleaner, skimming in floating debris, plastics, oil and organic matter, before pumping clean water back into the marina. It will be first of its type to be installed on the east coast of Australia.

As well as cleaning up the ocean, the Fraser Coast Intrepid Landcare group said the Seabin project would have an educational and research focus.

“We plan to record and analyse the rubbish being collected by the bin to provide insights into the sea debris in the Great Sandy Strait,” Jessica said.

“Our group also hopes that once installed, the Seabin can be used by schools and other groups as a tool for educating about pollution and human impacts on the environment.”

Meanwhile, the group is continuing its work to rid the region’s beaches of rubbish with more beach clean-ups planned for next year.

People or businesses wanting to assist with the Seabin project or take part in future beach clean-ups can email or visit the Fraser Coast Intrepid Landcare Facebook page.

— Clare McKay

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