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Perth turtle death sparks call for action on plastic pollution

June 10, 2017
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A new coalition of community and environment groups has launched a new campaign calling on Western Australians and the State Government to take action on the rising tide of plastic pollution that is affecting our environment and marine life. The coalition includes the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA), Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Campaign Australia, Plastic Free July, and the Boomerang Alliance.

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The Plastic Free WA campaign calls on the WA Government to ban single use plastic bags, implement a recycling refund scheme for bottles and cans, and take action to tackle microplastic pollution. Members of the community are also being urged to take practical actions in their daily lives that will reduce single use plastic waste.

The issue was highlighted recently when ‘Tina’, a distressed juvenile green sea turtle, was found in the Perth suburb of Shoalwater. Murdoch University Turtle Researcher Dr Erina Young said, “I was shocked and horrified to discover the turtle’s intestines full of rubbish - from plastic bags, plastic packaging, food wrappers to synthetic ropes and twine. The plastic would have caused immense suffering and ultimately contributed to her death.”

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Tina the Turtle and Dr Erina Young. Photo credits: Lisa Jane Hills and Dr Erina Young

CCWA spokesperson Sarah English said, “Tina the Turtle has brought the plastic pollution problem to our doorstep, showing that our unique marine life is being seriously affected.

“The problem with plastics is that they never break down, but persist in our environment to harm and kill our birds and marine life.The solution is to prevent plastic pollution in the first place, by changing our laws and our habits here in WA.

“Plastic hasn’t always been part of our daily lives, and communities all over the world are finding ways to reduce single use plastic. Whether it’s banning single use plastic bags, implementing a recycling refund scheme, or banning microbeads - people and governments are taking action and we are calling for WA to be next.

“After years of inaction on plastic and packaging waste in WA, we are encouraged by recent comments made by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson who has supported a ban on plastic bags, and confirmed a recycling refund scheme will be introduced across the State.” 

Ms English concluded, “The Plastic Free WA campaign will show community support for these positive steps, and encourage people to take simple actions to address the rising tide of plastic waste in WA.”

Dr Erina Young’s PhD project aims to establish the health status of sea turtles in Western Australia and is a collaboration between Murdoch University and the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

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