The Australian Government will commit an immediate $60,000 to kick-start urgent research into the best way to reduce plastic pollution in our oceans, reefs and waterways.
The funding, under the National Environmental Science Programme’s (NESP) emerging priorities stream, will investigate the major sources of marine plastic waste around Australia and determine the most cost-effective options to reduce its volume.
Every one of our favourite beaches and fishing spots is open to contamination by plastic waste and research suggests the problem is growing.
Higher than expected levels of plastic contamination have been recorded around Australia, including in iconic spots such as Sydney Harbour.
Researchers have shown that plastic in our marine environment can have a density of up to 40,000 items per square kilometre.
The Australian Government is funding this research to encourage better waste management practices and improve water quality outcomes for Australia’s marine environment.
It is essential that we better understand the impacts and sources of plastic waste and improve our management practices.
Unlocking this knowledge will support our efforts to protect Australia’s unique marine ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
The NESP’s Marine Biodiversity Hub, in collaboration with the Tropical Water Quality Hub and other research partners, will deliver this research to guide a national approach for assessing current waste management practices and will offer support to local, state and territory governments to reduce the amount of plastic waste entering waterways.
The research will look at what the relationship is between debris in the marine environment and litter data from nearby sites and whether there are identifiable pathways through which litter moves into the marine environment.
It will also investigate whether particular investments in facilities, policies, or outreach would be effective in reducing litter on coasts and in oceans.
This research will also provide vital data and information to underpin the Commonwealth’s revised marine debris threat abatement plan, which is currently underway.
The Australian Government is committed to integrating science into decision-making as a key principle of good environmental policy.
The $145 million National Environmental Science Programme focuses on collaborative, practical and applied research that informs on-ground action.