Waging war on rubbish
For the last three years, volunteers from the Waimea Tramping Club have given up their time to pick up rubbish around the Waimea Estuary as part of the Big Beach Clean-up.
Last Saturday 19 club members picked up rubbish that littered the shores between Champion Rd and Beach Rd.
They were joined by 48 different groups, from the Gainsborough Club to Nelson Girl Guides to the Nelson Labour Party, who collected 5.5 tonnes of rubbish from 295 kilometres of coastline between Abel Tasman National Park and Cable Bay.
Although that is less than the 10.4 tonnes of rubbish collected in 2010 and the 6 tonnes collected in last year's clean-up, tramping club members were dismayed that careless and irresponsible people still continued to litter the environment.
"We are out in pristine environments like national parks a lot and it's so upsetting to see all this rubbish in our own backyard," Katie Greer said.
"People need to take more care."
Katie said they picked up a bewildering array of items although the "same old culprits" - plastic bags, "dozens and dozens of bottles", polystyrene and fast food wrappers and containers - always made up the bulk of their rubbish.
Jill Dickinson said she was disappointed that such a sensitive piece of coastline had been spoiled by litter.
"We don't like seeing all this desecration - it's so sad."
Tasman District Council environmental education officer Rob Francis agreed it was disappointing that the "rubbish still keeps coming" after three years of the Big Beach Clean-up.
However, Rob said it was pleasing that the quantity was declining and he hoped that was an indication that the don't litter message was getting through.
Rob was also delighted that volunteer groups continued to support the Big Beach Clean-up.
"It was good that people gave up their Saturday to get out there and help clean things up. It's inspiring that we had so many volunteers out there."
Some groups went above and beyond, cleaning areas that were not even on the list.
Zane Mirfin from Strike Adventure Fishing, who as well as cleaning Pearl Creek and Saxton Island, took on Pig Island, Sand Island and a couple of islands off Mapua's Grossi Point.
The Big Beach Clean-up was organised by the Department of Conservation, Nelmac and Tasman district and Nelson city councils.
COASTAL LITTER DIRTY DETAILS
It was estimated that 6.4 million tonnes of marine litter are disposed in the oceans and seas around the world each year.
Globally, 58 per cent of the marine litter found can be attributed to shoreline and recreational activities, such as beach-picnicking and general littering.
Marine litter kills and injures marine wildlife mostly through entanglement and ingestion as well as smothering the seabed and polluting the marine environment with toxic chemicals.
In 2002, more than 390,000 volunteers in 100 countries cleaned up marine litter from 21,000 kilometres of coastline and waterways collecting more than 6.2 million pieces of litter, weighing over 4000 tonnes.
■ Source: United Nations Environment Programme report