Tangaroa Blue - a partnership against marine debris

​​The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources​ and the Tangaroa Blue Foundation, a Queensland not-for-profit marine debris clean-up organisation, are working together to minimise the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering and establishing in Australia that could harm our natural environment, food security and economy.

  • One of the objectives of the department is to manage identified risks posed by incoming vessels, aircraft, cargo and passengers across Australia. This includes a surveillance team committed to coastal areas in northern Australia.
  • Tangaroa Blue coordinates the Australian Marine Debris Initiative; an on-ground network of volunteers, communities, organisations and agencies around the country that monitor the impacts of marine debris along their stretch of coastline.

Biosecurity risk material can wash up on our shores through human-assisted activities such as foreign vessel movements or through natural pathways such as bird migrations, air and ocean currents.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the department and Tangaroa Blue signed in early 2014, the department has access to Tangaroa Blue’s comprehensive marine debris database of more than 2.5 million items, as well the benefit of an extra 25 000 pairs of dedicated volunteers looking out for debris that may pose biosecurity risks on beach clean-up days.

Additionally, the department, through the Travellers and Vessels Section, will use the data to inform the shipping industry of the risks posed by discarding biosecurity material overboard.

Tangaroa Blue will now be able to identify, record and report marine debris of a biosecurity nature. Some examples of biosecurity risk material:

  • International ship’s waste, particularly food waste - look for markings or wrapping in foreign languages.
  • Evidence of landings or debris relating to foreign vessel activity e.g. marine timber debris that may contain exotic borers or termites.
  • Mass bird mortalities, which may indicate the presence of exotic disease.
  • Evidence of animals that may have arrived from overseas which are not native or endemic to the local area.

To report marine debris or ask about the Tangaroa partnership, contact the department on See-Secure-Report free call 1800 798 636 or Email See Secure Report.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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