Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

April 20th 2012
Support for plastic bag ban applauded

Plastic from an albatross chick's stomach Following our report that mayoral candidate, Dale Last, is "happy to support" a single use plastic shopping bag ban across Townsville we received the following letter from marine turtle expert, JCU's Dr Mark Hamann

Dear Editor,
I absolutely applaud a move to ban plastic bags in Townsville.

Plastic pollution and the fragmentation of plastic items at sea is one of the most ubiquitous coastal and marine issues facing society .Plastics are created to last, plastic products are often made for a single use, then disposed often with a working life of minutes. Research is slowly telling us that the proliferation of plastics looms as one of the greatest threats to marine turtles and probably other marine critters. Even the most hardened souls could not help be concerned when seeing footage of seabirds feeding plastic products like bottle caps and cigarette lighters to their hatchlings believing the products to be fish. I am saddened to think of our oceans so broken the even the birds find it easier to find plastics than fish?

Plastic products contain chemicals, some are known carcinogens, some endocrine disruptors and many in which even cutting edge science cannot reassure us will be safe. For decades we have filled our houses, and feed ourselves with chemical bound plastics, yet we as a society have virtually no idea what plastic chemicals are doing to our health and the health of the environment.

Unfortunately plastics have become a pervasive and too convenient part of our modern lives. Reducing the local and global plastic footprint is our responsibility. It is a large somewhat audacious task to rid the beaches and oceans of plastic, but there are many trying and many succeeding. On a local front banning plastic bags in Townsville and making strong concerted efforts to reduce the use of single use plastics by Townsville people should be at the forefront of our efforts. Banning plastic bags is a great step forward, as is providing water bubblers to reduce the sale of bottled water. My home is certainly not plastic free but as a scientist, lover of the ocean and parent I strive to minimize the impact plastic pollution has on our environment. It is time to not only Reduce, Reuse & Recycle, we need to Rethink and Refuse our use of plastic.

Dr Mark Hamann
James Cook University

Photo of stomach contents taken from an albatross chick; marine conservation centre display, Hilo, Hawaii

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

Support for plastic bag ban applauded
Kelly Grech
April 19th 2012
It was so heartbreaking when I was in Bali swimming at Kuta beach after a night of heavy rain. The ocean was literally swarming with plastic and I filled two shopping bags with plastic packets in my 20 min swim, everything from nappy bags to noodle bags, absolutely anything that floats. It sickened me and although it would be somewhat helpful to phase out plastic bags at the supermarkets here, it seems like a drop in the ocean when it comes to this worldwide problem. What about plastic bottle lids, can't we ban those? This problem is so huge and it breaks my heart to see the planet's population destroying its wildlife with plastic.
Barb Gibbs
April 19th 2012
As I stated in the last post...the supermarkets need to reduce the amount of products containing plastic they order onto the island...we are not like the mainland, and even the mainland should do the same. We as island residents, need to collect as much of the broken down pieces of plastic to help our marine fauna if we are to be serious about our future. It has gone beyond a joke, now is even too late, but we need to reduce the hazard as much as possible...we on an island have the perfect opportunity to make a mark in this domain.
April 22nd 2012
I too had a similar experience when snorkeling in Bali. I dove down and looked up to see the water surface covered in debris. I agree it seems a huge problem but if we address one thing at a time (such as not using single use plastic items) then thats better than burying our heads in the proverbial plastic sand!
April 22nd 2012
Kelly I agree that we will not solve the global plastic problem by banning single use plastic bags from MI. We may however start to change attitudes which will certainly help to solve the problem. In the words of another Kelly "from little things big things grow".

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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