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Insights from the 2023 Waterways Report Card: Litter

Litter grades across the Dry Tropics reporting region are defined by ‘pressure’ levels: how much pressure the local environment may be under from the amount of litter present.

Litter was collected at 21 sites in our region.

1. All seven island sites within the Palm Islands are under either ‘very high pressure’ or ‘high pressure’, with over 80% of litter being marine debris – washed onto land from the sea.

The data used to calculate the litter grades comes from Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database and is collected by volunteers and partners through the ReefClean program, funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.

2. Horseshoe Bay on Magnetic Island and Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville are under ‘high pressure’.

“Litter in our waterways is a cumulative evil,” says Kara-Mae Coulter-Atkins, Executive Officer, Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters.

“From daily bags of dog poo to illegally dumped domestic and industrial waste, it accumulates and travels like everything in our waterways system.

“The wicked problem of growing marine debris and plastics in our oceans is not news, but our awareness of how litter reaches the ocean — using our waterways as highways — is something that is not enough in our collective consciousness.

“Our Partners are actively and frequently working to clean litter from our beaches and waterways and there is a groundswell of people in this town who help these efforts every day — and we celebrate those who are making noise in our community to keep it Tidy. See our Champions of the Bohle to read about one group driving action against illegal dumping.

3. The majority of remaining sites in our reporting region are under ‘low pressure’ or ‘very low pressure’, with the exception of Ross Creek in Townsville which is under ‘moderate pressure’. 

“We have spectacular, world-class islands on our doorstep in Townsville, but given their position and exposure to the marine litter that washes onto their shores, they are also red flags being raised by our oceans.

“Our Report Card litter grades show the comparative status of the few monitored sites in our region, and the story they tell is simple: we need to keep litter away from our waters.”

Keen to get involved with litter monitoring or clean-ups in Townsville and the Dry Tropics region? Subscribe to our newsletter or follow our social media to receive updates and opportunities from our many Partnership organisations.

Download the 2023 Townsville Dry Tropics Waterways Report Card here.
Access the Technical Report behind the Report Card here.

2023 Report Card Home

2023 Insights: Water Quality

2023 Insights: Habitat

2023 Insights: Litter

2023 Insights: Climate

2023 Insights: Urban Water Stewardship