Tasman sea floor gives up some of its rubbish

00:46, Aug 26 2014
Craig Smith
NO TREASURE TROVE: Clean-up volunteers with the rubbish that they and other divers retrieved from the sea floor in the Abel Tasman National Park.

A wood chip burner, oil filters, smashed apart starter batteries, a homemade bong and almost 600 glass bottles were among the rubbish 11 divers retrieved from the supposedly pristine waters of Anchorage and Adele Island.

Saturday's clean-up organised by Stew Robertson, the owner of Golden Future Conservation Tours, revealed that some boaties were taking an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to rubbish disposal.

Robertson said some of the items the divers found could have been blown off boats but others, such as the oil filters, "were just blatant biffing over-board".

He said heavy metals released from batteries would "bioaccumulate and get into the food chain" and although people might justify tossing bottles overboard on the grounds that they would break down to sand, it would only take a one big storm to wash broken glass on to the popular beaches nearby.

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"I think boaties need to be thoughtful about taking their rubbish home.


"Just because the rubbish has vanished overboard does not mean it has disappeared. Divers are the people who see this stuff and I've dived all around New Zealand and seen this everywhere," said Robertson. "We appreciate that most people respect the environment, but it is spoilt by the ignorant few."

The operation involved five boats, 11 divers and nine top-side crew, and between them they retrieved 770kg of rubbish from mooring points at Anchorage and Adele Island, which they hauled to the surface and took to the Mariri transfer station, where the Tasman District Council waived their disposal charges.

Diver Rod Stuart from Abel Tasman Charters estimated that the team covered about the area of a football field. He said the pollution was particularly disappointing because it was in a national park and on a clear day the visibility at the mooring spots was so good that the debris on the sea floor could be seen from the surface.

Robertson believed that the last time a similar clean-up had happened was three years ago at Anchorage, and he was planning to repeat it next year.

He thanked all the businesses and organisations who had contributed staff and gear, as well as sponsors who helped feed and supply the operation.

They included: Abel Tasman Aquapackers, Abel Tasman Charters, Abel Tasman Dive, Big Blue Fish and Dive, Abel Tasman Paddleboarding, Experiencing Marine Reserves, the Department of Conservation, Nelson College, Tomash Cernick Photography, Rolling Pin Bakery, Sublime Coffee from Kelly's Coffee Cart, Hop Federation, Farmlands, and Image Creators.