This is a problem which our team are keen on helping deal with. Ben Joshua Knight posted this on Guardians of the Kāpiti Marine Reserve last weekend:
As many of you will be aware, beach and marine litter is a growing threat to marine environments globally and our little slice of marine paradise is not immune to this issue. We are participating in a nationwide beach litter monitoring programme that’s led by Sustainable Coastlines called the Litter Intelligence Programme (see https://litterintelligence.org/data/) which aims to build an accurate picture of the beach litter problem across our beautiful country. To collect the beach litter data long-term, Sustainable Coastlines is working with community groups and volunteers to conduct beach litter surveys at a minimum of 108 beach sites across Aotearoa at least four times per year for the next three years. They are providing the training and tools required for volunteers to take part in this project as Citizen Scientists, conducting regular litter surveys at their chosen local beach sites and loading the litter data into a new, easy to use nationwide beach litter Citizen Science Platform/App that’s been developed specifically for the project. All the litter data collected will be freely available to the groups and individuals involved as well as to the wider public and decision makers.
Members of the Sustainable Coastlines team have spent the last couple of days over on Kāpiti Island setting up survey areas and conducting litter surveys. They carried out litter surveys at 3 sites at the north end including adjacent to the eastern boundary of the western section of the marine reserve at Tokahaki Point as well as on the north and south sides of the boulder bank. A litter survey was also conducted at Paraparaumu beach just south of the Waikanae river mouth in the area of beach that adjoins the eastern section of Kāpiti Marine Reserve.
As expected, a reasonably significant amount of litter was found, including lost fishing gear; e.g. buoys, rope, nets and line as well as aquaculture related items such as Mussel Floats along with polystyrene, plastic bottles, footwear, clothing, processed and treated timber (fence posts, pallets etc), a tyre, a variety of single use plastics such as lighters, shotgun wads, strapping bands and lots of food packaging.
Plenty of wildlife was seen including fur seals, gannets, Seagulls, Shags and of course many native forest birds such as Kaka, Kakariki, Korimako and even some Little Spotted Kiwi. It was interesting to observe on the boulder bank many small blobs of paper (fish and chip paper possibly) and glad wrap/food wrappers and even some hard plastic fragments that the shags and/or seagulls have been consuming and have then regurgitated along with hundreds of chicken bones — which suggests our local seabirds are consuming plastic and other food wrappers as well as a lot of chicken bones on the mainland and are then carrying this stuff back to the island in their stomachs. It wasn’t possible to tell if they are then feeding this to chicks or simply regurgitating it in order to get rid of these inedible items from their digestive system. Tangible evidence of the growing impact that human generated litter is having on seabirds even on a highly protected island sanctuary such as Kāpiti.
Some time was also spent scoping out the logistics for a wider island clean up at some stage in the future as well as doing a wider coastline cleanup — we removed half a cubic meter of litter without really scraping the surface!
You can view the litter data from these surveys at the links below:
Paraparaumu Beach (North) Litter Survey, 21/8/19: https://litterintelligence.org/data/survey?id=223
Tōkahaki Point, Kāpiti Island, 22/8/19: https://litterintelligence.org/data/survey?id=224
Boulder Bank (North Side), Kāpiti Island, 22/8/19: https://litterintelligence.org/data/survey?id=225
Boulder Bank (South Side), Kāpiti Island, 23/8/19: https://litterintelligence.org/data/survey?id=226