Marine Litter

Marine litter has become a major environmental concern across the world. The United Nations have estimated that there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish by 2050! To ensure this is not the case for future generations, we all need to consider changing their current behaviours and stop relying on single-use plastic items (such as plastic bags and plastic bottles) and choose to use more sustainable options. We need to take care of our oceans and consider the impacts we, as fishers, can make to help our beloved playground.


Marine litter, also referred to as marine debris, is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and ends up in the marine environment (CSIRO).  Marine litter can include plastic bottles, cans, plastic bags, straws, cigarettes and other manufactured consumer goods including fishing gear. Fishing gear such as fishing lines, ropes, hooks and nets are often found abandoned on coastlines after being lost or discarded at sea.


While discarded fishing gear contributes to the amount of marine debris, plastic is the most common litter found. According to ‘The New Plastics Economy‘, a report by the World Economic Forum, more than 8 million tonnes of plastics ends up in the ocean each year. This is equal to dumping the rubbish from one garbage truck into the ocean per minute. At the current rate of consumption, this will increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050!

Research conducted by the CSIRO has found that debris is highly concentrated near major cities. Approximately three-quarters of the rubbish along Australian coastlines is plastic. The density of plastic ranges from a few thousand pieces to more than 40,000 pieces per square kilometre. With Australian’s using more than 5 billion plastics bags each year and less than four per cent of these plastics bags are recycled, many inadvertently end up in our oceans (Clean Up Australia, 2018). Plastic is very slow to break down in the ocean. When it breaks down into pieces less than 5mm wide, it is called a micro-plastic.

Not only does marine debris impact our marine habitats, it can be harmful to all types of marine life, such as seals, penguins, birds, turtles, fish and other marine animals. It can cause injury and even death as the sea animals can either become entangled in the litter or ingest it as many animals mistake micro-plastics as food.


  • Ensure we take all litter with us after a fishing trip, day at the beach and/or any other outdoor activity. Including all plastic bottles, food packaging and fishing gear.
  • Unwrap any new fishing gear before you go out fishing so you don’t take the packaging out with you.
  • Cut your tackle into smaller pieces before you put it into the bin.
  • Where possible, use Seal the Loop Fishing Line Bins which aim to prevent discarded fishing material from entering the environment.
  • Use reusable options where possible such as reusable shopping bags, coffee cups, drink bottles and straws.
  • For soft plastics which cannot be recycled in your kerbside recycling bins, consider using Redcycle collection bins. Recycle bins accents soft plastics such as bread bags, pasta and bags, confectionary bags and plastic bags. A full list of accepted items is available here.
  • Follow a ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra.
  • If a public bin is overflowing, find another bin or take your rubbish home with you.
  • Participate in ‘Clean Up’ events with organisations such as Clean Up Australia, Keep Australia Beautiful and Tangaroa Blue.


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