Marlburians encouraged to be ocean minded and muck in

A beach clean up will be held at Rarangi on Mach 4 as part of Seaweek.
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

A beach clean up will be held at Rarangi on Mach 4 as part of Seaweek.

COLUMN: The ocean is downstream from everywhere.

When we leave rubbish lying around, wind and water carry it out to sea. When it rains, litter on our streets gets washed into drains and flows through to streams, lagoons, estuaries and the sea, littering our coastlines and filling up our oceans with plastic.

Once in our oceans, rubbish can harm and kill sea life. It can look like food to some animals and blocks their stomachs causing them to starve to death.

Plastic has a devastating effect on sea life.
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Plastic has a devastating effect on sea life.

It can also trap, suffocate and drown sea creatures when they get caught in it. Each year 100,000 marine mammals and 1 million seabirds are killed by rubbish at sea.

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Plastic does not biodegrade, not even "biodegradable plastic" -  it just breaks down, over  hundreds of years, into smaller and smaller pieces.

Attending a beach clean up event is very satisfying because those who muck in leave knowing their beach is, for a short while, rubbish free.

But Marlborough has 1200 kilometres of coastline, most inaccessible to the public without a boat. This makes the task of keeping our coastline, and ocean, rubbish free rather daunting.

This year over Seaweek (which runs from February 25 to March 5), we are going to hold the Massive Marlborough Clean Up. This is going to be a multi-group, multi-location approach to cleaning up Marlborough's beaches, and hopefully raising awareness of this ongoing and deteriorating problem.

There will be three official public beach cleans that anyone can get involved with.

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Conservation Kids New Zealand will be hosting a clean up along the Picton foreshore and Shelley Beach, while Marine & Aquaculture Contracting will lead a group to Bob's Bay, both on Sunday from 9.30am to 11.30am. Meet at the playground on the foreshore.

The Marlborough Freshwater Anglers Club, with the help of Hunting and Fishing Marlborough and Driftwood Eco Tours, will be hosting a river clean up along the banks of the Taylor River in Blenheim.

This event will also be on the Sunday, from 10am to 2pm. Meet at the Nelson St car park.

The Rarangi Community Association and some keen Blenheim locals will be hosting a clean up at Rarangi on Saturday, March 4 from 1pm to 4pm. Meet at the Rarangi community centre.

For all events, bring solid footwear, gardening gloves, sunscreen, drinks and snacks.

Divers can also get involved with the Waikawa Dive Centre which will be tackling the rubbish already in the ocean, with a clean-up in the water off the Picton foreshore and Shelley Beach.

Divers and support crew can join them on Sunday, March 5 from 9am to noon. Free air is available for the event, and gear can be hired.

Contact Waikawa Dive Centre on 03 573 5939 to book your place.

It's also fantastic that several companies are encouraging their staff to get involved. New Zealand King Salmon will be tackling various beaches in Queen Charlotte and Pelorus Sound as well as the Waikawa Marina.

Staff from the Marine Farming Association will be assisting with the various public clean ups too. Several resident associations in the Marlborough Sounds are also hosting their own clean ups.

Want to help? Join in one of the organised public clean ups or hold your own.

We're encouraging anyone who participates to measure their rubbish (in council rubbish bags) to add to the total tally. Contact Wendy at wsullivan@doc.govt.nz for guidelines on hosting your own.

To submit a photo of the strangest a piece of rubbish you collect during Seaweek, and your location, visit the Marlborough Conservation Events Facebook page to go in the draw to win one of two Young Oceans Explorer books.

 - The Marlborough Express

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