To celebrate World Oceans Day 2021 we are launched our Arnhem X Sea Shepherd 'Protect The Locals' Charity Tee.
Our precious oceans are in crisis. It is estimated that 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans annually. Plastic is durable and indestructible, taking hundreds of years to break down. Plastic in our oceans break down into micro plastics that enter the food chain, threatening both marine biodiversity and human health. All too frequently are we witnessing sea birds, turtles, whales and other marine life suffering and dying due to plastic ingestion. And not only this, plastics leach chemicals disrupting delicate ocean ecosystems, giving rise to ocean acidification that's a contributing factor to climate change.
Plastic pollution is woven into fast fashion culture. It's estimated that 63% of materials used for clothing are virgin plastic that when washed leech microfibers into our waterways, destined to become microplastics in our oceans. As a sustainable fashion brand this statistic breaks our hearts. We choose to work with sustainable fibres from trees or plants, or to close the loop we use recycled fibres that turn plastic pollution into fabric that we use for our intimates and swim. But even recycled synthetics shed fibres when washed, which is why sell Guppybags that catch microfibres to prevent them from entering our waterways and oceans.
At Arnhem we want to create a new balance for our industry rooted in true understanding of the ocean, our planet and how we as people relate to it. To celebrate World Oceans Day we have chosen to support Sea Shepherd and their ongoing campaigns to defend, conserve and protect our oceans.
We see an affinity between our industry and Sea Shepherd's Marine Debris Campaign. The Marine Debris Campaign is driving change through awareness and community engagement. Defending Australian waterways and coastlines. The nationwide campaign began in 2016. Passionate volunteers have removed over 3 million pieces of waste destined for the ocean. This waste has been painstakingly categorised and documented by citizen scientists. This data is used to identify the source allowing Sea Shepherd to work with local councils, businesses and other stakeholders to find solutions to prevent plastic pollution. Sea shepherd hold monthly community clean up events, empowering communities to take direct action and turn the tide on ocean waste.
Below we introduce you to Marina Hansen, National Marine Debris Campaigner for Sea Shepherd Australia. So join us in going a little deeper into the amazing work that's going on to tackle marine debris...
What does a day in the life of a Marine Debris Campaigner look like?
Every day working at Sea Shepherd presents something new – whether that is being out cleaning beaches, writing government submissions advocating for action to address plastic pollution, hosting a school beach clean-up or talk, writing communications on the plastic crisis to our followers, or supporting one of our amazing volunteer Coordinators who host community clean-ups in their area each month.
Tell us about your journey in becoming a Marine Conservationist and working with Sea Shepherd on this campaign.
I started out as a volunteer with Sea Shepherd in 2007 with the Perth Chapter. I absolutely love whales and at the time whaling was happening in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and I thought to myself I’m going to go and volunteer for Sea Shepherd as they were the only organisation taking direct action in Antarctica to protect the whales.
Fast forward to 2015, fellow Perth volunteers Liza Dicks (who is our Remote Campaign Coordinator, Arnhem Campaign Leader and Cocos Campaign Leader) and her daughter Georgie (veteran Sea Shepherd crew member) and I decided to host a beach clean-up each month for other Sea Shepherd volunteers. It was really only meant to be a new year’s type resolution to do something to help our local environment. After a few months our presence on the beach was attracting lots of interest from the public asking to join in and so mid-year we hosted our first community clean-up.
In February 2016, the Sea Shepherd Australia’s national Marine Debris Campaign was launched – we now have 19 volunteer marine debris teams around Australia and we have also conducted clean-ups in remote areas like in NorthEast Arnhem Land with the Dhimurru Rangers, at the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo, Mulgumpin (Moreton Island), off Brisbane and the Cocos Keeling Islands. The remote clean-ups show hidden places that are impacted by ocean plastics washing ashore.
Sea Shepherd’s Marine Debris Campaign is very grassroots and shows how individual actions can make a big difference.
What is the driving force that inspires your dedication to defend the oceans?
As a young child I remember the pure enjoyment of being at the beach with my family and how amazed I was at seeing whales and dolphins and all the little fish, rays, crabs and sea stars – I want my children and future generations to experience that same joy and to have clean, healthy oceans brimming with marine life.
We can’t stand still and do nothing, that’s not an option. The oceans are the lungs of the planet and are key to our survival so we must all be motivated to protect the planet.
What impact does marine debris and specifically plastic waste have on marine life and ocean ecosystems?
I can’t sugar coat this - the ecological consequences of marine plastic pollution are heartbreaking.
Plastic pollution is devastating coral reefs and coastlines globally, it affects the air we breathe and the water we drink. plastic on beaches is even increasing temperatures and there is no doubt plastic pollution it is killing marine life – we’ve sadly seen that first-hand.
Plastic pollution is a threat to all marine life including seabirds, sea turtles, whales, dolphins and seals (the list goes on), causing injury or death through entanglement, drowning or starvation following ingestion.
Life began in the ocean and our future depends on the ocean. It is in all our interests to protect it from increasing threats such as plastic pollution.
What does the future of the oceans look like if there isn't a change in behaviour and reduction in ocean waste?
There are some frightening projections out there such as “By 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish (by weight)”.
There is a growing body of evidence from researchers studying marine plastic pollution that says our coastlines, the ocean, marine life and even human are being impacted at an alarming rate.
Along with this research, escalating rates of plastic production and the pollution we see on the beaches, acting with urgency to address the plastic crisis in our ocean is critically important.
Can you share some examples of how the marine debris data sheet has been directly applied to industry and councils to reduce ocean waste?
At all our clean-ups we don’t just collect the trash we sort and count it as well – people can see the scale of the problem when it is laid out in front of them. It’s not unusual to record 7,000 items at a single clean-up and at one of our clean-ups at Cottesloe Beach in Perth we sorted and counted just over 26,000 items – which was really shocking.
We’ve used this evidence with councils to address problematic items – from beachside cafes using polystyrene (clamshell) food packaging, to the plastic barriers used to protect plants during coastal dune rehabilitation. As such we’ve seen environmentally friendly alternatives adopted and councils introducing single-use plastic policies, which is a great outcome for the ocean and marine wildlife.
What government legislation and policy can be implemented to ensure industry best practice to help prevent marine debris? What do you think the solution is?
Using our data as evidence Sea Shepherd has advocated hard for mandatory product stewardship with a range of stakeholders to show that Australia’s beaches are being impacted by plastic pollution and we need urgent and consistent legislation. A range of policy actions are slowly being introduced including some States bringing in legislation to address single-use plastics, but there is still so much more that needs to be done. NSW hasn’t even banned single-use plastic bags!
With marine plastic pollution being a global issue, it’s not just domestically where we need the Australian Government to take action. Intergovernmental policy action and agreement is required with urgency to tackle the massive challenges that lie ahead for our environment and our health if we don’t come together.
The narrative that has been drilled into us for decades is that waste and pollution is a consumer driven problem. Sure, we all have a part to play but we really need to stop the plastic at the source. A report in May revealed that just 20 companies produce more than half of the world’s single-use plastic waste – if we could stop plastic at the source and design out pollution this would have a monumental impact.
How can our customers get involved in beach cleans and citizen science to help reduce and document marine debris?
There are many ways you can be part of the movement to protect our oceans. From attending one of our monthly community beach clean-ups, to reducing your plastic footprint by investing in reusables such as stainless steel water bottles, KeepCups, saying no to straws, buying clothing made from sustainable fabrics, remembering to take your shopping bags or being a local eco hero by using your voice to be part of the solution – every action makes a difference.
If you can’t make it to a Sea Shepherd clean-up you can do your own mini beach or street clean-up (just remember to wear gloves and enclosed footwear!) and upload what you find to the Australian Marine Debris Initiative database which is a national marine pollution database accessible via an App.
With 80% of pollution originating from land-based sources, it makes local clean-ups, which remove trash before it enters the environment, vitally important for life in our ocean.
“Unless we stop the degradation of our oceans, marine ecological systems will begin collapsing and when enough of them fail, the oceans will die. And if the oceans die, then civilization collapses and we all die.” – Paul Watson founder of Sea Shepherd
If you want to know more, watch the Sea Shepherd films on our blog here.
And if you're feeling inspired to take the next step on your zero-waste journey, get ready for Plastic Free July as we've got something exciting coming for you!