Battling microplastics

WASTE: An example of microplastics that can be found on our beaches and oceans.
WASTE: An example of microplastics that can be found on our beaches and oceans.

Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula (NREP) is looking for volunteers to help in the nation-wide battle against microplastics.

As part of Cuttlefest, in June, July and August, NREP is planning to host an AUSMAP microplastics monitoring training day in Whyalla with Dr Michelle Blewitt. Microplastics are small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life.

For the Whyalla training day to go ahead it would need at least 15 people to register as participants. The NREP is calling on teachers, community leaders and interested parties to get involved in microplastic monitoring and raising community awareness.

National Resources Eyre Peninsula will be coordinate local monitoring sites at the foreshore, Eight-Mile Creek and Point Lowly for schools, community groups and individuals to monitor.

Whyalla student and conservation volunteer Lisa Reupana and Barbara Murphy from NREP attended a microplastics workshop in Pt Lincoln recently regarding detecting and monitoring microplastics in our oceans.

These one-day training workshops are run by the Australian Microplastics Assessment Program (AusMAP) for community leaders and interested parties in the hope they that they will go on to train others on how important his issue is.

Dr Michelle Blewitt, the project director of AusMAP is training people in coastal communities across Australia to survey their waterways for the tiny pieces of plastic that have come to concern environmental scientists.

"AusMAP is a citizen science project, designed to empower communities to look for microplastics on their own coasts," Dr Blewitt told the ABC.

"We want to eventually create a map of microplastic pollution in Australia.

"Surveying for microplastics helps us to look for hot spots, analyse the type of microplastics that we find and potentially look for solutions to stop them winding up in our oceans and in our food chains in the first place."

Whyalla high school student Lisa Reupana, 16, travelled to Port Lincoln to attend Dr Blewitt's session.

"Microplastics aren't really something that I've thought about before when I walk on the beach," Lisa told the ABC.

"It will definitely be something I think about now. I am going to tell everyone I know about it. I would like to introduce it at my school for year 11s and 12s.

"As a young generation, we are more aware of it than older generations. We are growing up in it and have to deal with the consequences. It's great that we can be a part of the solution."

For more information on the training day and how to become a volunteer, contact Barbara Murphy at NREP on 0427 188 546 or visit the Australian Microplastic Assessment Projects website at https://www.ausmap.org/