In 2016, the Boomerang Alliance, scientists and community groups presented extensive evidence to the Australian Senate’s Inquiry into marine plastic pollution. Our report calculated for the first time the extent of pollution and presented comprehensive solutions. In April the Senate Inquiry, comprised of all the main political parties, released its report appropriately titled Toxic Tide: the Threat of Marine Plastic Pollution in Australia. It presented a consensus of evidence, which showed “the magnitude of marine plastic pollution in Australia and Australian waters ... is a problem that cannot be ignored and is growing year-on-year.”
Describing the devastating impacts of plastic on our sea life and dire predictions of future impacts including concerns about health risks associated with plastic infested seafood, the Report outlines a series of recommendations reflecting our long standing agenda: including the adoption of Container Deposits, banning plastic bags and microbeads, develop innovative alternatives to plastic packaging, reinstating funding for Ghost Nets Australia, a national policy for stormwater management, and active government support for research on marine plastic pollution.
The Senate Committee expressed its disappointment, “with the apparent lack of action on this issue” and stated “there is a need for increased national leadership on marine plastic pollution abatement”.
WOW! After 10 years we’ve won – or so we thought - and with a Federal Election on the horizon the Liberals, The Labor Party and the Greens had outlined a comprehensive agenda to make immediate and deep cuts in the amount of plastic polluting our shores. But in less than 3 months, plastic pollution has faded from the political agenda. As election day loomed, we saw hundreds of announcements but silence on how to tackle marine plastic pollution.
So it’s up to us – again! We’ve made great progress; both the problem and our key solutions are largely accepted – but we have to put pressure on our political leaders to stop talking and act!
We think the best way to seize the moment is by developing our own, community driven, Threat Abatement Plan (TAP) on marine plastic. To do that, we have started a weekly blog canvassing 14 key themes for action. Working with our allies and key news outlets, we will run a media campaign where we will travel across the country from the Gulf of Carpentaria, east to Norfolk Island and into your local community to expose tragic consequences of plastic in our ocean. To ensure our plans are appropriate and evidence based, eminent marine scientist, Dr Jennifer Lavers, will head up a science panel to review each part of our plan and outline what research is necessary.
In November we will bring each aspect of the plan to the wider community together for the first Australian multi-stakeholder conference where we will hash out a program to cut the amount of plastic entering our waterways by at least 70% by 2020. That plan will be presented to every State, Territory and Federal politician in the country and we will demand its implementation. We can’t afford anything less.
It’s a massive task – but absolutely essential. And we need your help to be successful.