Waterway clean up group Ocean Crusaders are joining the N4C Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee to host a Paddle Against Plastic event on September 29.
The event will use kayaks to help clear up the Norman Creek waterways on Brisbane’s Southside.
The Paddle Against Plastic initiative is a community-based event where participants can rent kayaks from Ocean Crusaders to spend the morning exploring and cleaning the waterways.
N4C Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee president Stephanie Ford said she was excited to join the Ocean Crusaders for this event.
“Ocean Crusaders have been running a lot of Paddle Against Plastic events and they have made a massive difference in the amount of garbage going out in to the rivers,” Ms Ford said.
“[Our aim is] to get the rubbish out of the creek before it gets out into the rivers and the oceans, in particular the plastic and the Styrofoam, as well as things that might be eaten by animals or might become hazardous to animals,” she said.
“We’ve already run clean-ups ourselves that have been more land-based, where we just walk around with rubbish bags and a pair of garbage grabbers, but Ocean Crusaders has a fleet of kayaks, so that means you can get rubbish from places you can’t reach very easily on the land, particularly in the mangrove sections of the creek,” Ms Ford said.
“Being in a kayak is a wonderful perspective of the creek and you can find a lot of different rubbish,” she said.
“It’s quite interesting and fun to be in the kayaks.”
Ms Ford said the N4C Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee’s mission was to protect and enhance the eco system in the Norman Creek Catchment.
“We have a lot of bush-care groups around the catchment that are trying to improve the vegetation on the creek bank for water quality and also habitat, and as a regular part of that we also remove rubbish from those sites,” she said.
Ms Ford said she had noticed a reduction in plastic bottles that she believed was due to the Queensland state government’s Container for Change scheme.
“When you’re picking up the rubbish, it is a lot smaller volume because the plastic water bottles took up a massive space in your rubbish bag,” she said.
“But, overall, the amount of rubbish going into the ocean is still quite a lot.”
“We’d like to reduce that greatly, and we also want the critters in the creek system themselves to have a cleaner environment to live in, and for people to look at something that’s more natural and more attractive as well,” she said.
This is the first time the N4C Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee has joined Ocean Crusaders for a Paddle Against Plastic event.
Ocean Crusaders founder and managing director Ian Thomson said the partnership with the N4C Norman Creek Catchment Committee would help raise awareness of pollution in the waterways.
“For Paddle Against Plastic, we’ve wanted to be involved with the N4C Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee for quite some time,” Mr Thomson said.
“[Our aim for working with the N4C Norman Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee is] to start forging relationships and supporting what they do, but more importantly get the rubbish out and raise awareness with the paddlers, so they engage with their waterway when they are out paddling and they start to see the rubbish, and they pick it up rather than paddle past it,” he said.
Mr Thomson said he began the organisation after seeing the effect plastic could have on wildlife.
“We are founded on the basis of myself personally finding eight dead turtles in the Whitsundays when I was a skipper up there, and three had died because of plastic ingestion,” he said.
“That made me basically want to change the whole world so that our turtles and our oceans are protected.”
“They don’t have a voice, so we need to give them a voice.”
Ocean Crusaders are focussed on cleaning waterways on a large scale, and use a variety of watercraft to reach difficult to remove rubbish.
“A lot of other groups organise beach clean ups or pick up rubbish from nice and easy-to-reach areas, whereas we actually jump out on paddle crafts and go to the areas people don’t want to go,” Mr Thomson said.
“We go to mangrove systems and up creeks that people very rarely go into to remove rubbish that is right at the source of where our marine life is at risk,” he said.
“We don’t clean for humans, we clean for marine life, because that’s why we exist,” he said.