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Blitz on litter trap escapees

Litter that escapes from floating rubbish traps in the Derwent Estuary is being targeted in an underwater blitz this weekend in the lead up to Clean-Up Australia Day in March.

Divers from the Tas Uni Dive Club will focus on areas around two litter traps – at the Hobart Regatta Grounds and the Montrose Bay Reserve – in a bid to collect and record the type and quantity of refuse that "slips through the net".

The divers are among 60 groups to have registered with Clean-Up Australia Day 2010 in Tasmania to assist the Derwent Estuary Program’s aim to remove 20 tonnes of rubbish from the Derwent foreshore.

EPA Division general manager Warren Jones said the floating litter traps are among measures implemented by the Derwent Estuary Program to reduce the amount of litter entering the Derwent via the stormwater system.

"While the traps are extremely effective in catching medium to large floating items, some litter, especially small items like bottle tops, plastic cutlery and confectionery wrappers, slips through and persists in the environment," Mr Jones said.

"The underwater clean up by the Tas Uni Dive Club will greatly assist with ongoing data collection about the type and amount of litter entering the estuary where the floating litter traps have been installed.

"As well as helping to gauge litter trends, these dives are valuable in raising public awareness of the extent and impacts of littering, especially when the litter is not obvious."

Mr Jones said the any item of litter dropped on a suburban street in Greater Hobart can be carried into the Derwent where it may affect both the water quality and the wildlife that inhabit the estuary. Once in the tidal system, the litter continues to pollute the foreshore.

The dates for Clean-Up Australia Days are: Business, Tuesday 2 March; Schools, Friday 5 March; and Community, Sunday 7 March.

Community groups, schools and businesses can register to join Clean-Up Australia 2010 events at http://www.cleanupaustraliaday.org.au/about/about-the-event .

The public can report littering offences, especially littering from motor vehicles, via the Litter Hotline on 1300 13 55 13 or by visiting www.environment.tas.gov.au/litter to report littering online.