Community organisations have joined forces to protect the north’s most iconic attraction – the Great Barrier Reef – from litter pollution.

Townsville City Council in a joint venture with the Port of Townsville, the Townsville Local Marine Advisory Committee and Tangaroa Blue Foundation have installed 18 stormwater litter traps across the CBD – bringing the total amount of traps in the city to 40.

The traps – funded by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s partnership with the Australian Government’s Reef Trust – prevent litter from making their way through the stormwater systems into the city’s waterways. 

Townsville Water and Waste Committee chairperson Russ Cook said since the install of the first 22 litter traps, over 200kg of litter had been stopped from making it into Townsville’s waterways.

“The litter traps have been cleaned out twice since they were installed mid last year, and almost 11,000 pieces of litter were prevented from reaching our waterways, with the most littered items being cigarette butts and filters,” Cr Cook said.

“With another 18 litter traps, and the funding for another two rounds of servicing and sorting, we can begin to stop even more litter from making it into our water courses and use the data to inform strategies to prevent littering.”

Port of Townsville General Manager Infrastructure & Environment Marissa Wise said that the Port was extremely pleased to be involved in this community effort to reduce litter being carried into the Great Barrier Reef.  

“The Port has been undertaking environmental monitoring of Cleveland Bay for more than two decades and being part of the installation and monitoring of litter traps is an extension of the work we have undertaken to keep the Bay healthy,’’ she said.

“This is a great example of council, business and community organisations working together to improve the environment.’’

Chief Executive Officer of the Tangaroa Blue Foundation Heidi Tait said that projects like this are crucial for informing policy and anti-littering initiatives.

“Volunteers across the country invest their time participating in clean-up events, but projects like the Strain the Drains Litter Traps Audits are a vital step in understanding where the marine debris on our beaches originates from,” Ms Tait said.

“Data collected during this project is submitted into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database which is used at local, state and federal levels to stop the flow of litter into our oceans.”

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said every Australian has a role to play in saving this irreplaceable ecosystem.

“Through these grants we’re bringing together people and science with practical local actions to save our Reef and its marine life,” Ms Marsden said.

“These grants deliver practical, on-ground actions, including everything from promoting sustainable fishing to improving creek habitats and reducing litter and marine debris entering the Reef catchments.

“These projects will add to the more than 60 Reef-saving projects the Foundation is delivering right now with more than 65 partners.”

The next sorting event is being hosted by the Port of Townsville on 18 February at the Maritime Museum and anyone interested in volunteering on the day can email heidi@tangaroablue.org.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s Local Action projects are funded by the partnership with the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.