In 2021, funded through a Queensland Community Sustainability Action Grant, The Butchulla Land and Sea Rangers (BLSR) commenced the Butchulla Country – Marine Debris Clean-Up Project.
The project aims to increase community stewardship and raise awareness of marine debris impacts on Butchulla country; places like World Heritage-listed K’gari (Fraser Island) and Korrawinga (the Great Sandy Strait) Ramsar Wetland and upholds the Butchulla first lore – what’s good for country must come first.
Littering on the Fraser Coast impacts amenity (social), tourism (economic), habitats and wildlife (environmental), and cultural values (Butchulla heritage and cultural connection). Plastics from marine debris and discarded fishing lines, pots and nets impact seabirds, shorebirds, fisheries resources and endangered species, including milbi (turtle), buthu (dolphin) and yuwang’kan (dugong).
The BLSR were already conducting clean-up activities through their ‘Creek for a Week’ program, and following training received through Conservation Volunteers Australia and Tangaroa Blue, started to contribute data to the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI). Rangers also work collaboratively with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to conduct crab-pot clean-ups in the Great Sandy Strait and deliver a Junior Ranger program with a marine debris module to local schools.
Working with schools, community groups and volunteer participants to clean up Butchulla country, a series of events will be coordinated by the newly appointed Project Officer (Marine Debris), Tessa Waia (also one of the BAC’s first Ranger Trainees). Activities will take place on the Fraser Coast mainland, K’gari (Fraser Island) and on the islands and waters of the Great Sandy Strait, including mangroves and tidal wetlands with both land and boat-based activities.
Recent efforts included a series of clean-ups alongside Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service on K’gari’s Eastern Beach following the February-March 2022 flood event. Additional clean-ups are also planned for Rainbow Beach/Inskip and Maryborough (River Heads, Susan River, Mary River and Saltwater Creek).
Article submitted by the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation’s Land and Sea Rangers