Joint Media Release: 24 tonnes of marine debris cleared from Great Barrier Reef

5 May 2020

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon Warren Entsch MP, Special Envoy for The Great Barrier Reef


Over 24 tonnes of debris including plastics, discarded fishing gear, old cigarette lighters and toothbrushes have been removed from the beaches of the Great Barrier Reef in 2019, thanks to the Australian Government’s partnership with Tangaroa Blue Foundation to deliver the ReefClean project.

A report released today reported that ReefClean, which is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, ran 49 community clean-up activities and regularly monitored 33 beaches for marine debris during its first full year.

“This is just one of the many ways we are working to address the problem of rubbish in our waterways,” Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said.

“The Morrison Government is committed to tackling the problem of waste, from our towns and cities to the sea. That’s why we’re investing $1.9 billion dollars in protecting the Reef and funding a range of activities through the Environment Restoration Fund and the National Waste Policy to combat litter at its source.”

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef and Member for Leichhardt the Hon Warren Entsch MP said that it was fantastic to see communities across the region coming together to preserve this national icon.

“Removing waste from the Reef is something I am passionate about,” Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Warren Entsch said.

“The project is a wonderful initiative that is already delivering a number of great outcomes for the Reef, as well as the industries and regional communities that rely on it.”

Launched in early 2019, ReefClean aims to remove and prevent marine debris along the Great Barrier Reef region through to 2023. The five-year $5 million project is delivering clean-up events, site monitoring, workshops and school engagement activities in order to tackle marine rubbish.

“It has been inspiring to see more than 4,000 volunteers come forward to help us get a better understanding of the scale of the issue and find ways to deal with marine debris,” said Heidi Taylor, CEO of Tangaroa Blue Foundation.

“Through the launch of this report, we not only showcase the amazing contribution of so many individuals and partners, but the data and numbers provide a clearer picture of the problem, which enables us to make a better decision on how to tackle it.”

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is working with several organisations including Conservation Volunteers Australia, Reef Check Australia, Capricornia Catchments, Eco Barge Clean Seas, OceanWatch Australia, South Cape York Catchments, AUSMAP and Think Spatial to deliver this initiative.

A key aspect of ReefClean is counting and recording all debris collected in the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) Database. This provides an opportunity to track items back to the source and identify ways to prevent them from being released in future.

To view the public outcomes report for 2019 visit www.reefclean.org