New Zealand is renowned for its scenic coastline but it’s not always as pretty as we may wish.  Various types of rubbish can be found washed up on our coasts, which is both unsightly and can create problems for the environment and wildlife.

A committed group of local residents, council staff and fishermen have braved wild weather to gather up 20 tonnes of rubbish from remote western beaches on Stewart Island, which was responsibly disposed of or recycled where possible at the local refuse.

The list of items found on the beaches included fishing equipment, rope, domestic rubbish and more.

The seafood industry is aware of their contribution to this issue and was keen to support the clean-up effort. Matt Harvey, an ex-fisherman and now vessel manager at Sanford, generously volunteered his time and the deepwater industry sponsored around $10,000, along with fuel supplier BP also providing 2,000 litres of fuel for the vessel carrying the rubbish collected. Other organisations and firms from the seafood industry and a range of other sectors made major contributions in terms of money and effort. It was a huge operational task and we would like to offer a special thank you to the folks at Wairaurahiri Jet for their organisation and the number of volunteers who made this all possible.

Ali Timms, Environment Southland Chairman, notes “we need to stop the rubbish at its source”.  The seafood industry are looking at how the fishing sector can do more in achieving this by improving on-board practices to minimise and manage rubbish and gear that is lost overboard. It has been six years since the last clean up and the objective is to reduce the amount of rubbish finding its way into the sea so that these clean-ups can be even less frequent.