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Byron Shire
May 9, 2021

A positive change for river life

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Positive Change for Marine Life volunteers sorting through rubbish pulled from the Bruns. Photo Facebook.

One of the major tourist drawcards of the Northern Rivers is the Brunswick River but this wonderful asset is threatened by garbage and local marine conservation charity Positive Change for Marine Life (PCFML) is aiming to clean it up.

In 2017 PCFML organised their first kayak-based survey of the Brunswick River.

With just 34 volunteers they collected over 1.5 tonnes of rubbish. This prompted the River Warriors initiative throughout NSW and QLD, a project to see waterways cleaned up.

Volunteers collected rubbish weighing in at 300kg

Positive Change CEO Karl Goodsell says coming off the back of the ongoing River Warriors project on the Gold Coast, PCFML launched the campaign on the Bruns last month. ‘Our team and volunteers collected an astounding 2,033 pieces of rubbish, weighing in at 300kg across just a 2.4km stretch of the River.’

Goodsell says most people aren’t aware of the huge amounts of recreational, household, industrial and irresponsibly disposed of rubbish that ends up in our waterways. ‘A report that was released last year in Scientific American highlighted that just 10 rivers contributed over 93% of marine debris into the world’s oceans.’

Ongoing monthly surveys of the river

Supported by Patagonia, Southern Cross Credit Union and The Byron Bay Brewery, the group is running ongoing monthly public-facing surveys of the waterway, collecting information on types and quantities of debris across the length of the River.

Once their baseline surveys are complete, they’ll produce a report card on the waterway, giving it a rating between A and F based on key variables, as well as mapping marine debris hotspots. Phase two of the project will then work with a variety of stakeholders to address the issue at its source through education programs and the implementation of practical, source-based mitigation measures.

‘While the situation here in Australia isn’t as severe as rivers like the Yangtze or the Ganges, our waterways still act as the dumping ground for millions of pieces of discarded human rubbish every year,’ says Goodsell. ‘We believe that we have a responsibility to act and preserve these vital habitats, which provide critical nursery grounds for a multitude of species, whilst playing a crucial role in the cultural, recreational and economic value of our region,’

River Warriors, Brunswick River is proud to be partnering with Byron Bay Eco Cruises and Kayaks, Brunswick Valley Landcare and Mullum Cares to be delivering this ongoing project. The Brunswick River River Warriors initiative takes place on the last Sunday of every month.

If you’d like to be a part of it check out www.pcfml.org.au or their Facebook page.

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  1. Good on and Karl and the team. Is is possible to have it dumped outside Scott Morrison home since he is so keen to solve this problem. It might encourage him to talk seriously to the voters and their children of Australia about taking responsibility for their actions?


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