A typical clean-up day at Four Mile Beach with Tangaroa Blue


Jamie Jansen

Feature Writer

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Volunteers show lots of enthusiasm and tend to come along to multiple events.

With an everlasting commitment, the Tangaroa Blue Foundation has been cleaning up trash from Four Mile Beach for twelve years, and continues to do so every month.

Tangaroa Blue is a leading not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris on Australia’s beaches and waterways.

Hannah Kennedy, Project Coordinator in the Port Douglas area, said that on a typical day at Four Mile Beach, they collect between 20 to 40 kilograms of trash. 

“To date, the Tangaroa Blue Foundation and all of our dedicated volunteers have removed over 20 million items, that is over 1,600 tonnes of trash, from Australia’s waterways”, Ms Kennedy said.

“Not only are we removing rubbish and trying to figure out how to stop it, we are providing a space for people to see firsthand the negative effects of marine debris on the environment.

“This can alter one’s perspective and help connect the choices we make in our daily life to the effects those choices might have on the environment.”

Ms Kennedy is fairly new to the Far North Queensland area as she moved up here from Townsville six months ago. Originally from Winsconsin in the States, she studied Marine Biology at JCU in Townsville. “After graduating I decided I needed a change of scenery. I now live in Oaks Beach and I absolutely love it.”

“The Tangaroa Blue Foundation is exactly the place I wanted to work after graduating from my Master's degree. There are so many ways Tangaroa Blue is making a difference, whether it be outreach events at local schools or working alongside indigenous rangers.

“It is nice to work for an organisation that has created a network of people making positive changes in their community and trying their best to tackle one of the many environmental issues facing our planet today.”

Ms Kennedy explains that the monthly clean-ups are not only important because they remove the rubbish from the beach, they also keep track of what they collect.

“This tells us if there are any major changes in the amount, or type of rubbish washing up over time. We can then figure out where this rubbish may be coming from and how to stop it at the source.”

Enthusiastic volunteers

According to Ms Kennedy, volunteers show lots of enthusiasm and tend to come along to multiple events.

“The number of volunteers that attend our Four Mile Beach clean-up varies between 2 to 20 people, depending on the time of year.

“There have been less volunteers in the summer months, so we are really wanting to involve some Port Douglas locals who live here year-round. Especially for this upcoming clean-up on February 11.

“The atmosphere at these clean-ups is always fun and positive. Everyone is friendly and talkative. I always have a lot of fun at the clean-ups and enjoy getting to know everyone and learning about their passion for the marine environment.”

A typical clean-up day

“For a typical clean-up at Four Mile Beach, we meet at Bruno Reidwig Park at 9:00am, do a quick introduction and safety briefing and discuss a game plan for the day. Depending on how many volunteers turn up, we either split into groups and clean different sections or all drive to the northernmost point of Four Mile Beach and walk together back to Bruno Reidwig Park.

“Once everyone is back to the park, we collect data. This involves weighing the bags of rubbish we have collected and sorting the rubbish into different categories by material and item. We then count the items within each category. The data we compile then gets input into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database.

“The AMDI helps communities look after their coastal environment by providing resources and support programs, and collaborates with industry and government to create change on a large scale.”

Other initiatives

Tangaroa Blue holds many events all across Australia. “Queensland, however, conducts the most beach clean-ups each year”, Ms Kennedy said.

“As the year progresses, more and more events will be popping up. Not only do we hold beach clean-ups, we also take full day trips to Cape Kimberley every four months, the next one being in April.

On top of that, we have several multi-day trips to Cape York throughout the months of May to September.

“We also have a few boat trips that will take us to different islands in the region. Volunteers can attend these trips but space fills up fast so the best way to stay informed is through our Facebook page and event calendar on our website.”

Ditch the Flick

The Foundation also conducts various source reduction projects to reduce specific items from becoming litter and marine debris.

“To date we have helped develop and implement over 285 Source Reduction Plans. In Port Douglas, there currently is an ongoing campaign called Ditch the Flick.

“Businesses along Macrossan St and the Crystalbrook Marina are handing out mint tins as a perfect pocket sized place to keep your cigarette butts until you can find a bin.

“To keep this initiative going we are in need of more mint tins. If anyone is interested in helping out, there are three donation drop off areas with the Council.”

They are as follows:

  • Mossman Library: 14 Mill St, Mossman QLD 4873
  • Port Douglas Community Hall: Mowbray Street (Cnr Mowbray & Mudlo Streets), Port Douglas QLD 4873
  • Douglas Shire Council Administration Building: 64-66 Front St, Mossman QLD 4873

Interested in joining the next Four Mile Beach clean-up on February 11 or one of the other clean-ups and events? Have a look on their website calendar or head over to their Facebook Page.

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